ECI recognized at 21st Century Talent Region

Indiana Secretary of Career Connections and Talent Blair Milo virtually joined state and local officials recently to announce the East Central Indiana (ECI) Region as Indiana’s tenth 21st Century Talent Region, a statewide designation awarded to Indiana communities focused on working collaboratively to attract, develop and connect talent.

“Over 70 individuals across the East Central Indiana Region have dedicated their focus to establishing East Central Indiana as a place where people want to live, work, play and stay,” Secretary Milo said at the Jan. 22 event in Muncie. “Through the outstanding collaboration of these leaders and the Forge Your Path initiative, East Central Indiana is growing access to lifelong learning and opportunity for all current and future Hoosiers.”

The Office of Career Connections and Talent, with support from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation and technical assistance from CivicLab, launched the 21st Century Talent Region initiative to encourage local governments, businesses, educational institutions, nonprofits, and economic and workforce development partners to create and implement plans to increase educational attainment, raise household income and grow the population in a region. By taking a comprehensive, systems approach, participating regions will identify strategic priorities and projects aimed at helping its communities create a better quality of place, develop and skill up its workforce, and connect talented Hoosiers with businesses seeking to fill high-demand, high-wage jobs.

Corey Murphy, director and CEO of the New Castle-Henry County Economic Development Corp., said the regional collaboration could impact Henry County residents from birth to adulthood.

“We live, work and play in a region. Commuting data supports this fact,” Murphy said. “This regional collaboration seeks to impact community prosperity through aligning employers and education resources.”

Murphy also thanked the New Castle-Henry County Chamber of Commerce and Chamber Director Shonda Kane for working to get the “21st Century Talent Region” designation.

Spearheaded by the George and Frances Ball Foundation with support from Ball State University’s Office of Community Engagement, key stakeholders from seven ECI counties – Henry, Delaware, Grant, Jay, Randolph, Rush and Wayne – worked together to identify four key priorities:

Increasing integration of East Central Indiana’s Forge Your Path lifestyle marketing initiative across stakeholder marketing and talent attraction efforts by December 2021;

Establishing regional coalitions to develop plans to increase achievement in early childhood, K-8, high school, and adult/higher education by December 2021;

Laying the groundwork for industry-specific networks to participate in regional implementation plans and develop talent pipelines in manufacturing, trades, education, healthcare, and technology by early 2022, and;

Defining and prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion in all talent attraction, development, and connection efforts through and beyond 2022.

The East Central Indiana Talent Collaborative, a new backbone organization anchored by Ball State’s Office of Community Engagement, will oversee regional progress in these priority areas.

Currently, 81 Indiana counties are actively engaged in regional planning through the 21st Century Talent Region initiative. The addition of East Central Indiana brings designations to 58 of Indiana’s 92 counties, covering a population of nearly 4 million Hoosiers. Previously designated 21st Century Talent Regions include Northwest Indiana, West Central Indiana, Eastside Economic Recovery and Mobility District, South Bend-Elkhart, Hamilton County, Indiana Uplands, EcO Network of Southeast Indiana, Northeast Indiana and Southwest Indiana.

– Story by Travis Weik (Editor@TheCourierTimes.comof The Courier-Times. Read more local stories at

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