Journal of the Indiana Academy of the Social Sciences

Document Type



Today, one of the key challenges facing community leaders across the country is to build an innovative, prosperous economy to provide jobs and a quality of life for those within their communities. Leaders in each city work hard to attract new businesses and to help those existing businesses successfully compete. Unfortunately, many of these leaders have come to learn that today’s economy is too complex for a single city to master. They have begun to move beyond their local communities and to think of themselves as a part of regional efforts because regions are more competitive in scale and assets than are cities. Regions are the right size to balance speed of response with a critical mass of assets to compete successfully. Vibrant regions have a strong self-identity rooted in shared experience, a regional mindset, regional action, and a real network of collaborating leaders and programs.

What many communities have found when addressing their economic challenges is that creating a regional culture takes a new kind of leadership. Political boundaries, institutional turf, school athletic rivalries, and other local issues can get in the way of pursuing collaborations. They know the value of a regional mindset yet understand how difficult it is to get others to see the need to think and act regionally. Several communities in north-central Indiana were facing such a challenge. As a result of a two- year initiative, a model emerged that provides insight into the process of developing a regional mindset.