Rural regional residents encouraged to complete survey by Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership

A farmer works in a field between Bluffton and Ossian in 2014. The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership wants to know what residents of rural communities see as the highlights of living there. ( file photo)

Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership wants to find out what residents living in the region’s rural communities have to say in a survey about what it’s like to live and work in the region’s rural areas.

Rural northeast Indiana counties helped with the survey, which aims to collect perceptions and data about life and work in the region’s rural communities, according to a partnership news release. The goal is to use the survey results along with “out-migration data” to make the area attractive to those who might want to live and work there.

Each year northeast Indiana loses about 1,000 residents to other U.S. communities, according to American Community Survey data compiled by the University of Wisconsin, the release says.

The partnership is undergoing an effort to grow the region’s population from 789,015 to 1 million by 2031. It has recommended 38 projects in the next two years, with a total investment of over $400 million, to make the region’s communities – including Fort Wayne, Auburn, Columbia City and Huntington – more attractive to live in. The plan is to highlight the “diverse quality of life options from lakeside living to rural charm,” according to the partnership’s website.

“As we continue on our regional Road to One Million plan, rural areas, small towns and larger metropolitan areas all need to grow,” said Michael Galbraith, director of the Road to One Million, in the release. “One of our long-term challenges is increasing the vitality of small towns and rural areas to stem out-migration. We need all 11 counties to grow and prosper in order for our region to compete for talent globally.”

The partnership encompasses Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells and Whitley counties.

Sami Jacobs, marketing coordinator at the Noble County Economic Development Corp. said in the release, “We are asking for input from residents, employees, employers and young people who spend significant time in the region’s rural communities. Residents have a voice and they can provide a true, authentic representation of how they view their community.”

The survey is only available online through Dec. 15. To fill out the survey, click here.

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