Now, that vision is coming to life through One Dearborn, a public-private initiative that’s being hailed as a “one-stop shop” for local economic development and a powerful incentivizing message for REDI to deliver nationally and internationally.
Leading the One Dearborn charge is former county administrator Terri Randall, who left that position to focus solely on elevating the community development and local economic development initiative.
“At the heart of what we’re doing is straight-up passion,” said Randall. “Communities change, and new ideas and actions can make a huge difference. We now have a vision of what’s best for our community, and we’re taking ownership of that.”
Randall quickly set up shop at the southeast Indiana facility of Ivy Tech Community College and began mapping out a four-pillar action plan with a singular mission: To become one of the highest-quality and most sought-after counties in the Greater Cincinnati region.
Starting at home
“When I arrived in southeast Indiana 12 years ago, the local economic development initiative at the time had a lot of involvement, but not a lot of local businesses,” said Browner. “[Randall] and I began reaching out and asking people what a strong economic development organization should have. The answer was nonpartisan support from the private sector.”
The two began working to revive relationships in Indianapolis, Cincinnati and northern Kentucky, while tapping into state and regional programs to create a fertile climate for Dearborn’s existing businesses to grow.
Welcoming new faces
As it turned out, this was another story best told by the businesses already existing — and flourishing — in Dearborn.
“The private sector is the group that gets things done,” said Browner. “We’re always shamelessly looking to copy other successful organizations, and in that same way we’re studying the things that other economic development groups are doing to attract attention. We looked to organizations like REDI Cincinnati to learn how to get the political powers in Indianapolis to recognize southeast Indiana as the prominent gateway that it is.”
REDI president and CEO Johnna Reeder commended the team’s efforts, saying, “The work they are doing is vital not just to Dearborn County, but to the entire region. As the first point-of-contact for businesses looking to locate in Greater Cincinnati, we know they are looking at the region as a whole.”
Tackling modern workforce challenges
“We moved into the Ivy Tech facility because they’re a huge education partner that can literally customize programs to suit workforce needs,” Randall said. “But also, housed here is Work One — the workforce engine in Indiana. Now, we have the opportunity to be right next to each other at an advanced manufacturing lab, right next to instructors who are teaching these programs. We’re excited about how that’s going to affect our workforce.”
A place to call home
Currently taking shape is a project that will bring landscaping, public art and a walking bridge to the Lawrenceburg entrance ramp off I-275 at U.S. Route 50.
With housing representing another major quality-of-place indicator, Randall says her group is also working on ensuring Dearborn offers the right mix to accommodate both existing residents and the anticipated influx.
“There’s a big to-do list, but we have a handle on it and everybody’s moving in the same direction,” she said. “We’re ready to make some major capital investments in these plans.”