State recognizes South Bend-Elkhart as 21st Century Talent Region

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Business, government and community leaders gathered Friday to celebrate a special designation from the state for the South Bend-Elkhart region.

"Do hereby designate the South Bend-Elkhart region as a 21st Century Talent Region and invite all citizens to duly note this occasion. Signed, Gov. Eric J. Holcomb," Blair Milo announced at Aloft in downtown South Bend.

Milo is the secretary of career connections and talent for the state of Indiana

It’s a big designation for a region looking to grow business and talent in the future.

"Earning this designation requires the region to come together to build and implement for attracting, developing and connecting talent,” Milo said.

By talent, they mean workers, and it’s the long-term vision for Elkhart and South Bend that earned the region recognition Friday.

"Growing the population, by increasing postsecondary education attainment levels and raising median household income,” Milo said, describing what needs to be done to propel the region into a successful future.

Being a 21st Century Talent Region is about taking communities to the next level.

"We're really focusing on developing that entrepreneurial ecosystem, helping our industries grow and thrive, and what you're hearing today is that talent is at the core of that,” said Regina Emberton, president and CEO of the South Bend-Elkhart Regional Partnership.

Building a higher quality of life is also a priority.

"You'll see us over the next five years and decades, really, into the future focusing on that quality of life implementation at attracting the talent here to support our industries, help grow our economy overall,” Emberton said.

Emberton says they have a goal to increase income for everyone in the region by 2025 and to increase postsecondary education in the population.

"We know that one of the ways that we can attract people to this part of the state is if they have a quality work-based experience when they are in high school and when they're in postsecondary education. So, creating more internships and work-based experiences,” said Teresa Lubbers, commissioner for the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.

And for the continued success for the area, collaboration is key.

"When we talk about trying to acquire, trying to attract talent, when we talk about trying to make sure our businesses are populated by that talent, our communities have to come along with that,” Elkhart Mayor Rod Roberson said. "To have the collective effort of South Bend-Elkhart working together, it’s something we should aspire towards in most things."