Regional Benchmarking & Tour
In 2017, One Region received a grant from ArcelorMittal to learn from other places in the country with a turnaround story in attracting people. One Region worked with economists from Valparaiso University, Indiana University Northwest, Purdue University Northwest, and the Center for Workforce Innovations to assess places across the country where there has been growth in the millennial demographic. We selected the millennial demographic as they are the largest segment in terms of population and they are the demographic starting families, which is a means to grow a region’s population.
One Region and economists selected nine places and then narrowed it down to three places for an in-depth study and visit to three places.
Based on research, we selected the following regions:
- New Jersey because of its bi-state relationship with New York City (Hoboken and Jersey City have one of the highest concentrations of millennials in the country),
- Pittsburgh because of its history in steel manufacturing (Pittsburgh’s millennial population grew by 7% over the last five years), and
- Denver because of its investments in infrastructure and redevelopment (Denver attracts an average of 12,000 millennials per year over the last five years).
A delegation of nearly 30 leaders from NWI toured Newark, Jersey City, Hoboken, Asbury Park and Trenton, visiting downtown developments, repurposed industrial sites and transformed buildings designed with an eye toward “quality of place.” New Jersey has many parallels with Northwest Indiana from beach communities like Asbury Park where there has been a revitalization through a grassroots effort and arts community. Another similarity was the urban corridors such as Jersey City, Newark and Trenton where the cities are working on investment strategy to attract residents.
Pittsburgh is a place where the past, present and future collide. The city is an example of how industrial heritage can be incorporated into a diversified future. A delegation of over 40 public officials, business people and non-profit NWI leaders examined first-hand how Pittsburgh reversed decades of declining population to emerge in recent years as a magnet for new businesses and residents. Pittsburgh has been successful due to its anchor institutions (philanthropic and higher education), investments in real estate, public-private partnerships and a willingness to think big and take on risks.
Denver is a story of revitalizing underperforming assets, leveraging transit and trails and thinking regionally. One Region led a delegation of over 40 NWI leaders to learn about creating an anchor project like Union Station, which now serves as Denver’s living room. Union Station is about vision, collaboration, and implementation. Lakewood, CO offered lessons on transit oriented development as well as repurposing a mall into a walkable downtown. We also learned about economic development, regional collaboration, and recreational assets.