What is the East Central Indiana  Talent Collaborative?

Spearheaded by the Ball State University’s Office of Community Engagement, the East Central Indiana Talent Collaborative is made up of key stakeholders from nine ECI counties – Blackford, Delaware, Fayette, Grant, Henry, Jay, Randolph, Rush and Wayne. We convene our region’s diverse leaders, businesses, training and education providers, and nonprofits to pursue shared prosperity through equitable and dynamic talent attraction, talent development, and talent connection.   

The East Central Indiana Talent Collaborative was created after the region was awarded with the State of Indiana’s 21st Century Talent Regions designation on January 22, 2021. Created by the Office of Career Connections and Talent, with support from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation and CivicLab, the designation encouraged local governments, businesses, educational institutions, nonprofits, and economic and workforce development partners to take a comprehensive, regional approach to creating better quality of place, developing and skilling up workforce, and connecting talent Hoosiers with businesses seeking to fill high-demand, high-wage jobs.  

Why does the Talent Collaborative exist?

The population projections for East Central Indiana are startling. According to industry experts, the majority of ECI counties will lose more than 10% of their population by 2050. This has a direct impact on our ability to fund public schools and attract industry.  

Despite the presence of multiple post-secondary education options, ECI counties lag behind state and national averages for education attainment.  As a result, many of our residents do not have access to better and higher paying jobs. Additionally, many of our region’s companies struggle to find employees for increasingly complex positions.   

What does the Talent Collaborative hope to achieve?

Regional stakeholders selected three high priorities for our region:   

  • Boost population trends by 11% resulting to result in a net 0% population change by 2030.   
  • Mobilize our learning system to increase the educational attainment of 9,000 Hoosiers by 2025.  
  • Build upon equitable economic opportunities to increase median household income and earnings by 7.5% by 2025. 

What are the Talent Collaborative’s goals and objectives?

By 2025, the ECI Talent Collaborative will achieve the following goals and objectives highlighted in the strategic plan:   

Equitable Child Development and Education


  1. Equitable access to emotional, social, mental, and physical foundations for all children.
  2. Sufficient high-quality childcare employees to meet regional needs.
  3. Birth-to-five development and support is widely recognized as key to the overall developmental success of an adult.


  1. All children are prepared for kindergarten.
  2. Reduction in preschool and childcare deserts.
  3. Clear definition of “quality childcare.”
  4. Improved quality of childcare providers across the region.
  5. Childcare provider positions elevated to professional status (e.g., reduce turnover and/or burnout among employees).
  6. More public schools offering preschool options.
  7. Increased demand from parents for high-quality childcare programs.
  8. Greater investment from industry, community, schools, and parent partners.

Equipped Adults


  1. ECI adults are motivated to pursue fulfilling work.
  2. Barriers to fulfilling work in ECI are addressed.
  3. ECI is prepared for the economy of the future.
  4. Baseline health and wellbeing needs are met for ECI residents.


  1. Achievement of sustainable increases in labor participation rates.
  2. Increased average wages.
  3. Adults believe there is dignity in all kinds of work and understand the impact of their work.
  4. The region understands the narratives around work and why they exist.
  5. Families understand how education is connected to fulfilling work.
  6. Industry partners are involved and invested in education to ensure their future.
  7. Future employment needs and educational offerings are aligned to meet future demand.
  8. Generate new businesses through entrepreneurship.
  9. Adults and their dependents have equitable access to affordable healthcare (physical/mental/emotional).
  10. Adults and their dependents have access to affordable and quality housing.
  11. Adults have equitable access to safety-net services.
  12. Adults have supportive relationships and social networks.

Employers of Choice


  1. ECI employers are supported and empowered to become and/or remain employers of choice.
  2. ECI stakeholders prioritize recruitment of employers of choice.


  1. 50% of ECI employers are recognized as employers of choice.
  2. Increased % of new employers in ECI are recognized as employers of choice.

Elevate Forge Your Path


  1. Forge Your Path (FYP) is widely regarded and utilized as the premier resource for talent attraction and retention for ECI.


  1. Increased adoption and utilization rates of FYP through integration into business operations of regional employers.
  2. Increased demand to advertise with FYP.
  3. FYP is featured in publications/advertisements outside of ECI.
  4. FYP is regularly assessed to update features and content in alignment with regional needs



  1. ECI stakeholders unite against shared challenges and to forge a new era of regional trust and support.


  1. All counties in ECI actively identify with, support, and participate in the ECITC.
  2. Stakeholders in the region seek out support and partnership from the ECITC.
  3. Regional coalitions and industry networks are implementing truly regional initiatives.
  4. Partners across the region make financial investments to support ongoing ECITC initiatives.
  5. ECI counties continue to partner on emerging large-scale collaborative initiatives.

To tackle these significant challenges, we must move from disconnected thinking to interconnectedness, from silos to emergence, from isolation to relationships. We must become systems thinkers.  

This process is not simple, nor fast. It will take dedication to think differently about the whole. But systems change is vital to our collective economic future. 

Interested in learning more about how your county or organization can join our collective effort to attract, develop, and connect our region’s talent?  Send us a message.