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Brookings and LISC partner with Warsaw on 12-month Learning Lab, a project focused on expanding equitable economic opportunity in small cities and rural regions

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Source: Indiana Economic Development Corporation

WARSAW, Ind. (November 29, 2022) – Aimed at closing geographic and racial gaps in economic opportunity, the Brookings Institution’s Bass Center for Transformative Placemaking and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) will together work with three Indiana towns—Michigan City, Seymour and Warsaw—over the next year to co-create “community-centered economic inclusion” (CCEI) agendas. The effort is supported by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), and focused on small cities located in the state of Indiana’s READI program regions.

Through this 12-month Learning Lab, Brookings and LISC will offer research, technical assistance, and structured opportunities for the three local teams (“the cohort”) to come together to discuss specific challenges and best practice strategies for advancing community-centered economic inclusion. The individual CCEI agendas created through the Lab will position each Indiana town to effectively engage in the growing sectors of their regional economy to expand local economic opportunity. Importantly, the agendas will also outline strategies to address persistent economic stagnation and inequity by coordinating and concentrating workforce, small business, real estate development, and placemaking efforts.

Following the completion of the Lab, Brookings and LISC will synthesize the learnings from Indiana in a “playbook” for a national audience that highlights how rural and small cities can work with regional leaders and their states to foster greater equity and prosperity.

The lead convening organizations representing each Indiana town in the cohort are: Economic Development Corporation of Michigan City; Jackson County Industrial Development Corp (Seymour); and Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation (KEDCO) (Warsaw). These organizations will be working closely with other city, community, and regional stakeholders to co-create and implement the CCEI agendas in each city.

Through READI, 17 regions across the state that represent all 92 counties are moving forward with projects and programs designed to enhance Indiana’s regions for current and future generations of Hoosiers. Collectively, the state’s $500 million investment is expected to yield an additional $9.86 billion public, private and nonprofit dollars invested (19.72:1 investment leverage ratio) in enhancing Indiana’s quality of life, quality of place and quality of opportunity.

“This is an amazing opportunity for smaller communities to become the focus of inclusive economic development in the state,” said Vincent Ash, Vice President of Development at the IEDC. “While well-intentioned, many economic development strategies miss integral needs because they’re developed from the top-down. Sourcing from the community will go a long way toward ensuring greater economic growth and equity in communities that need it. Further, I’m looking forward to sharing

these community-centered agendas with a national audience to help position Indiana as a leader in inclusive economic development.”

“We are excited to work with local leaders in Indiana in their efforts to develop strategies for connecting people and businesses in disinvested communities to regional economic opportunity,” said Jennifer S. Vey, Senior Fellow and Director of Brookings’s Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Center for Transformative Placemaking. “We hope the learnings from this work will be helpful to other small cities and rural towns who want to advance equity and economic inclusion through a community-centered approach.”

“After implementing economic inclusion strategies in twelve larger cities, we are eager to launch this Learning Lab with local leaders in Michigan City, Seymour and Warsaw to accelerate investment and opportunity in each community,” shared Bill Taft, Senior Vice President of Economic Development at LISC. “As a native Hoosier, I’m excited that Indiana’s smaller cities will be co-developing inclusive growth strategies with Brookings and LISC that will be used across the country.”

Brookings’s Bass Center and LISC believe that the CCEI process can help smaller and more rural towns to advance economic opportunity and improve quality of life for their residents. This work is particularly timely to ensure that local investment decisions regarding federal and state pandemic recovery funds have as great an impact as possible.

“We are extremely excited to be selected as a part of this program,” said Jim Plump, Executive Director of Jackson County Industrial Development Corporation. “The value that this study can have on our future efforts is tremendous, and we can’t wait to get into the actual process in the coming months.”

“Our team at Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation and our partners throughout Warsaw and Kosciusko County are honored to participate in this program, which highlights the potential for new growth strategies in smaller communities,” said KEDCO CEO Alan Tio, “This program will provide a shot in the arm as we work to develop a strategic vision for the “Orthopedics Capital” and build our local capacity to pursue transformative, locally inclusive placemaking.”

“Michigan City considers this opportunity both an honor and privilege to be able to explore and investigate resources and solutions to improve our community across all sectors,” said Clarence Hulse, Executive Director of Michigan City Economic Development Corporation. “This fits in perfectly with our current strategic plan and will assist in moving the needle significantly in economic inclusion for our residents.”

About Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation
Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation (KEDCO) was formed in 1984 as Kosciusko Development, Inc. to promote economic and community development throughout Kosciusko County. KEDCO is the economic development corporation serving Kosciusko County and all the municipalities therein.  Our mission is to convene, build, and show Kosciusko County’s talent, ideas, and capital. Learn more at

About IEDC
The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) is charged with growing the State economy, driving economic development, helping businesses launch, grow and locate in the state. Led by Secretary of Commerce Brad Chambers, 
@SecChambersIN, and governed by a 15-member board chaired by Governor Eric J. Holcomb, @GovHolcomb, the IEDC manages many initiatives, including performance-based tax credits, workforce training grants, innovation and entrepreneurship resources, public infrastructure assistance, and talent attraction and retention efforts. For more information about the IEDC, visit

About LISC
LISC is one the country’s largest community development organizations, helping forge vibrant, resilient communities across America. We work with residents and partners to close systemic gaps in health, wealth and opportunity and advance racial equity so that people and local economies can thrive. Since our founding, LISC has invested $24 billion to create more than 436,320 affordable homes and apartments and develop 74.4 million square feet of retail, community and educational space. For more, visit

About Brookings Metro
The Brookings Institution is committed to quality, independence, and impact. Brookings Metro collaborates with local leaders to transform original research insights into policy and practical solutions that scale nationally. To learn more, please visit Follow us on Twitter at

Media Contacts:
Alan Tio (KEDCO) – 574.221.0367 or