Industrial, academic, and community leaders along with a federal military base have joined forces to develop a plan to leverage Southwest Central Indiana’s assets in order to drive economic growth and build quality of life for residents of the area.

Lilly Endowment has given a 650 thousand dollar grant in order for regional leaders to identify assets, resources, and opportunities in the region that can be better coordinated and used to give economic opportunities to communities all across the area.

Radius Indiana President and CEO Becky Skillman says this grant is important to the region and what is done with the grant money will have an impact in many different ways:

The planning efforts will initially focus on 11 counties: Brown, Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Orange, Owen, and Washington counties. These counties are those served by Radius Indiana plus the Indiana Department of Workforce Development’s Economic Growth Region 8.

The planning efforts will be led by a steering committee. The committee will include:

* Brian Blackwell, director, Office of Engagement, NSWC Crane;
* Duane Embree, national director of Military and Defense Initiatives, Ivy Tech Community College;
* Paul Mitchell, president and CEO, Energy Systems Network (ESN);
* Dan Peterson, vice president of Industry and Government Affairs, Cook Group; Steering Committee Chair;
* Tina Peterson, president and CEO, Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County
* Becky Skillman, president and CEO, Radius¦Indiana;
* William Stephan, vice president for Engagement, Indiana University;

The region is home to Crane Naval Base as well as Indiana University-Bloomington which collectively employ more than 10 thousand people. Life sciences, which employs 4,400 people, is a growing industry across the region and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) jobs are in high concentration.

Regular meetings will be held by the steering committee to develop recommendations for the region. Opinions and recommendations will be solicited throughout the process from community foundations, economic and workforce development experts, and local and regional leaders among others.

Meetings with the steering committee have already begun and public listening sessions will be coordinated later this year. The plan is expected to be completed by the middle of next year.