By MAX SHOWALTER
Nine counties in west central Indiana have formed a regional economic development organization that will coordinate marketing efforts that highlight the region's assets.
Formation of MidWest Indiana Economic Development was announced by Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman this morning at Ivy Tech Community College in Lafayette.
Benton, Carroll, Cass, Fountain, Montgomery, Pulaski, Tippecanoe, Warren and White counties will participate in the organization.
"As Indiana ramps up its emphasis on regional economic development, this group of nine counties is positioned to be a leader," said Skillman. "MidWest Indiana will help these counties pool their resources to better sell the region to growing companies."
Assets the counties will tout include a trained work force, tourism attractions, higher education institutions, the growth of wind farms and agriculture opportunities.
"With more than 330,000 residents in 2008, MidWest Indiana has a large population base," said Fountain County Commissioner Janet Shoaf. "There are 20 cities and towns in our region with a population of over 1,000 - three of them in Fountain County. Lafayette and West Lafayette are the two largest communities in the region, but the smaller communities are just as important to our economic growth."
Each participating counties' economic development organization will support the effort with $1,000 annual payments.
"That is subject to change, depending on what we see as our priorities," said Connie Neininger, director of White County Economic Development.
A Web site that extols the assets on the nine-county region - www.midwestindiana.com - has been established to provide potential employers, tourists and others with information.