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* Purdue Center for Regional Development

April 4, 2007

Forum focuses on economic future of north central Indiana

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Cities and counties can no longer go it alone economically - they have to reach out and work together to remain competitive. A forum will show civic leaders within 14 north central Indiana counties and those that they serve an innovative strategy for doing just that.

The Indiana WIRED Regional Forum will take place from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. April 12 at the Honeywell Center, 275 W. Market St., Wabash, Ind. There is no cost to register, and lunch will be provided.

WIRED, which stands for Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development, is a federal initiative designed to energize the nation's economy through regional economic development partnerships and work force education and training. In 2006 the U.S. Department of Labor awarded $15 million each to 13 regions in the United States, including a grant to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development (IDWD). The grant covers a region comprising Benton, Carroll, Cass, Clinton, Fountain, Fulton, Howard, Montgomery, Miami, Tippecanoe, Tipton, Wabash, Warren and White counties.

The IDWD selected Purdue University to oversee the Indiana WIRED project.

"The Honeywell Center in Wabash provides a unique and flexible setting where forum participants will network, enjoy one another's company and complete tasks that are important to the region," said Mark C. Smith, Indiana WIRED project administrator. "We encourage attendance by the general public, educators, local economic development organizations, elected officials and business leaders."

During the forum, those attending will be asked to complete a network mapping questionnaire and generate ideas for addressing regional economic development challenges. Group discussions and exercises will follow, culminating in a regional action plan and proposed solutions.

A wrap-up session will focus on what participants do next. Indiana WIRED project leaders also will be on hand to answer questions and describe the Opportunity Fund, which invests resources in initiatives that further Indiana WIRED's strategic goals.

"We expect the April WIRED forum to build on existing relationships among regional stakeholders in new and innovative ways," said Craig Lamb, executive director of work force and economic development for Ivy Tech Community College, Lafayette, and an Indiana WIRED Core Team member. "These partnerships will focus on issues and needs that go beyond traditional boundaries and will actively seek resources and collaboration to develop effective solutions."

Advance forum registration can be made by contacting Peggy Hosea of Indiana WIRED at phosea@purdue.edu. On-site registration at Honeywell Center takes place from 9-9:30 a.m. the day of the forum.

For maps and directions to Honeywell Center, log onto the Center's Web site at http://www.honeywellcenter.org. Additional information about Indiana WIRED is available at the project Web site at http://www.indiana-wired.net.

Writer: Steve Leer, (765) 494-8415, sleer@purdue.edu

Source: Mark C. Smith, (765) 479-6058, smith96@purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Beth Forbes, forbes@purdue.edu
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