Statement issued Tuesday:
FORT WAYNE, Ind., Dec.21, 2010 – In an unprecedented gift to the Northeast Indiana region, the Lincoln Financial Foundation approved over half a million dollars in grant money for the Northeast Indiana Fund (NIF) this month.
The three-year grant to be paid $200,000 per year will be the first multi-year grant the NIF has received from Lincoln Financial Foundation, and places the foundation as one of the largest supporters of community and economic development efforts in the ten-county region.
“The Lincoln Financial Foundation focuses our giving to benefit quality of life, whether that’s arts, education, human service or workforce and economic development,” Sandi Kemmish, director of Lincoln Financial Foundation, said. “The NIF’s work to strengthen the capacity and economic competitiveness of Northeast Indiana, through work such as Vision 2020, uniquely positions the organization as one body doing a great amount of work across all of our focus areas. We are pleased to support them as they make Northeast Indiana a better community.”
Lincoln Financial Foundation’s funding will be directed at continuing the research and support work for the Northeast Indiana industry clusters of advanced manufacturing, defense, financial services, food processing, transportation and logistics, and medical device. The cluster work provides proof of economic success in the region; just this month, Iotron Industries – a medical device sterilization company – announced an expansion to Northeast Indiana. The company’s decision to locate in Whitley County was helped by the significant research and data that existed to show the prominence of the medical device industry in this area.
The gift of the Lincoln Financial Foundation will also be used to support staffing and communications for the implementation of Vision 2020. Vision 2020 is a community and economic development project, aimed at aligning the work and resources within the five pillars of 21st century talent, entrepreneurship, infrastructure, quality of life and competitive business climate. The visioning work of Vision 2020 took place from January to June of 2010, and the NIF’s full-time responsibility for supporting implementation of Vision 2020 will begin to occur as staffing resources, such as the Lincoln gift, are obtained.
“We are thrilled with Lincoln Financial Foundation’s generosity and willingness to support these initiatives,” Mark Becker, executive director of the Northeast Indiana Fund, said. “With this incredible gift, we’ll be able to advance recommendations from the six industry cluster strategic action plans and strengthen collaborations with companies in our six industry clusters.”
Becker said that with the gift, the NIF is also close to being able to adequately staff the work of Vision 2020, as measured in benchmarking other communities who have successfully implemented visioning projects.
“Lincoln is our partner in showing that the visioning project is definitely a work in progress and is not sitting on a shelf collecting dust,” he said. “This gift demonstrates the importance, and necessity, of the Vision 2020 work to the community.”
Lincoln’s previous gifts to the NIF helped to develop the strategic economic development plan, “Building a Twenty-First Century Economy in Northeast Indiana,” which resulted in the industry cluster strategic plan, as well as the Vision 2020 process.
About the Northeast Indiana Fund: The Northeast Indiana Fund’s mission is to support the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership and its ten member counties through the funding and coordination of charitable activities which directly contribute to increasing the region’s capacity to support new business investment and the creation of high quality jobs for the region. The Northeast Indiana Fund has received support from the Harold P. Arnold Foundation, the Olive B. Cole Foundation, the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne, the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne/SDI Fund, The Dekko Foundation, the English Bonter Mitchell Foundation, the Foellinger Foundation, the Robert Goldstine Foundation, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, Indiana Michigan Power, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Lincoln Financial Foundation, the NiSource Foundation, NIPSCO, the Regional Chamber of Northeast Indiana, the Steel Dynamics Foundation and the Verizon Foundation.