Who We Are
Existing development initiatives, programs, and services—including those in the economic development arena— nearly all focus on individual communities, firms, and governmental jurisdictions. At the same time, the scholarly literature and real world observations make it abundantly clear that today's problems and tomorrow's opportunities transcend this narrow, compartmentalized approach.
Evidence shows that sustainable prosperity, wages, and productivity in advanced economies are determined by regional factors and characteristics. Networks of companies, input suppliers, service providers, and public institutions all contribute to innovation capacity on a regional basis. In knowledge-driven economies it is this regional ability to create, develop, and commercialize new technology that drives economic activity. These regional capacities often overshadow attributes and features of individual firms, communities and governmental jurisdictions.
Regional approaches cannot be successfully mandated. Some federal and state agencies have established regional commissions and districts and these approaches have worked to regionalize provision of services. However, these approaches have often fallen short in creating a fundamental shift in thinking among local public and private sector leaders. A successful approach must build on the power of information, dialogue, networking and high-level collaboration to form partnerships across and within both the public and private sectors. The Purdue University Center for Regional Development will be the catalyst that supports this sort of transformational thinking and leadership.
This is no small task. It is not easy for businesses that have always thought of themselves as competitors to also think of themselves as collaborators. It is not easy for communities that have been fierce rivals for decades to develop the trust and find the common ground necessary to identify and capitalize on win-win regional situations. It is not easy for public institutions/agencies and units of local government to go beyond sharing newsletter information to achieve higher levels of cooperation such as integrated plans of work and service delivery, pooling and sharing of resources and staff, and collaborative decision-making across agencies and organizations. However, if effective regional cooperation can be achieved, Indiana can be a national model, and the dream of Indiana leading the nation in economic growth can become a reality.