What is the NewAllen Alliance?
The NewAllen Alliance was officially formed in 1991 by a collection of rural communities in East Allen County, Indiana including the cities of New Haven and Woodburn, towns of Grabill, Leo-Cedarville, and Monroeville, and Census Designated Places of Harlan and Hoagland. Allen County is part of the Fort Wayne MSA. While the City of Fort Wayne is urban, there is a significant portion of the county that is extremely rural, much of which is located on the eastern part of the county.
This diversity of place is both an asset and a challenge for the county. In the past, there has been a disconnect between the rural areas and county community and economic development agencies located in Fort Wayne. The NewAllen Alliance formed to help support the rural areas.
The mission of the NewAllen Alliance is to create a unified voice for the communities in East Allen County to foster a coordinated effort in community and economic development, resulting in new investment, job creation, and improved quality of life.
Member communities of the NewAllen Alliance each have board seat representation for the organization. Board members are not elected officials, but rather typically have some connection to local business in their communities such as the Chamber or Main Street Organization. Community collaborations have always been important to the NewAllen Alliance and the regular monthly meetings also include representatives from the following organizations: Allen County Commissioners, Allen County Council, East Allen County Schools, Greater Fort Wayne, Inc., NIPSCO, Indiana Michigan Power, Paulding Putnam Electrical Co-Op, Upstate Alliance of Realtors.
What are the boundaries and characteristics of the East Allen County region?
The coverage area served by the NewAllen Alliance includes the East Allen County School District boundaries, excluding areas within Fort Wayne’s city limits. The area is next to the City of Fort Wayne. Allen County is in the eleven-county, Northeast Indiana Region which has a population of approximately 700,000 that is within a three hour drive from the major Midwest cities of Chicago, Columbus, Detroit, Indianapolis and Toledo. The population of the East Allen County Region is 56,491 which is approximately 16% of Allen County’s population of 360,250 according to ESRI Community Analyst data for 2013. This population is larger than that of 65 of Indiana’s counties. The East Allen County Region also has 20,124 households and 21,495 housing units. Top industries by employee are Manufacturing, Wholesale and Retail, and Education & Health Services.
Opportunities for renewal within the East Allen Region exist within each individual community near their downtowns and adjacent neighborhoods as well as along the SR 930 Corridor in between Fort Wayne and New Haven. New industrial growth opportunities are being focused along the US 24 and US 30 Corridors.
How did the East Allen Rural Revival Initiative develop?
In 2014, the NewAllen Alliance conducted an organizational assessment. A recommendation from this assessment was to conduct a strategic plan for the communities and bring on resources to help make connections to implement the plan. In 2015, a grant was received from the Allen County-Fort Wayne Capital Improvement Board to fund the NewAllen Strategic Investment Plan development. Sturtz Public Management Group, LLC was hired to facilitate the process and in 2016, this plan was completed. Over 800 residents were engaged with through surveys, community
workshops and planning committees.
The word cloud below visually demonstrates the dominance of word choice within the plan.
The final product resulted in individual plans with strategic actions outlined for each community. As a collective group, the communities found alignment around the core values of Leadership, Empowerment, Collaboration, Individuality, and Business Diversity. Shared priorities were also established. (
Read more about Priorities)
The success of this endeavor led to the NewAllen Alliance receiving the 2017 John Keller Award for Outstanding Planning Initiative by the American Planning Association, Small Town and Rural Communities Division. Since that time, NewAllen Alliance communities and Allen County have shared in a continued contract with Sturtz Public Management Group to serve as the Rural Liaison for the organization. The work of this position focuses on oversight of plan implementation activities. The East Allen Rural Revival Initiative is a collective action of all seven communities with one bold vision – to connect communities through improved quality of place. This initiative is in alignment with each of the priorities, but predominantly Priority #2.
What is the Indiana Regional Stellar Communities opportunity?
NewAllen Alliance, in cooperation with the Allen County Board of Commissioners, submitted a concept proposal of the Revival to the Indiana Regional Stellar Communities Program in April of 2018 and was notified shortly thereafter that they were shortlisted as one of six finalists to complete to be a Stellar Communities Designee. Two of the six regions will be chosen.
The Indiana Regional Stellar Communities Program is a competition offered by a collaboration of state agencies including the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, Indiana Department of Transportation, Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, and the Indiana State Office of Rural Health, amongst other state offices in a supportive role. The program has been in place since 2011, but this year has been modified to have a regional focus. Goals of the program are to foster regional collaborative behaviors and investment, stem the tide of non-metropolitan population loss through talent attraction and retention, build sustainability, build capacity with municipal governance, and leverage quality of places through comprehensive and transformative planning processes building on
current assets. Regions can be comprised of 2 to ten communities.
Since April, NewAllen Alliance communities have been fine-tuning preliminary project designs for quality of life investments into downtowns, parks, sidewalks, trails and senior housing. This portfolio consists of projects that, if the region is designated as an Indiana Regional Stellar Community, would receive a funding set aside. Set aside funding for designees includes $4.5 million in Community Development Block Grants, $2 million in rural transportation funds, $800,000 in annual housing tax credits, $250,000 in Owner-Occupied Housing Rehabilitation dollars, and $35,000 from the Office of Rural Health. There are also several other projects as part of the proposed portfolio that may be ineligible for state funding, but would be paid for as a complementary projects through other partnerships.
A complete Revival Regional Development Plan application is due to the State of Indiana on September 21st and designations will be made December 6th. If selected, the region would have four years to complete projects (2019 – 2022).
What are you ultimately hoping to accomplish through the Revival initiative?
Capacity Building: Through the investment of shared resources of various types (financial contributions, volunteer time, and staff time from numerous governmental, non-profit, and business groups), the region can move from strategic planning to strategic doing. This iterative process of doing leads to a change in culture led through increased knowledge, skills, and empowerment which ultimately leads to increased capacity, or ability, to do more.
Civic Engagement: We are working to make a difference in the civic life of our region through advocacy of shared values and priorities.
Community Empowerment: Through this region building effort, we are creating a community of communities…a grassroots support network that empowers community members to advance their desired goals.
Connectedness: We are actively working to create connected communities comprised of walkable attributes such as sidewalks bike lanes, trails, street trees, street lights and bike racks. They also provide accessible places such as parks, shops, schools and libraries where people can connect with one another.
Livability: We are building a region where existing and future residents want to live, a region of quality public spaces that bring people together, build community, and enhance overall livability. Our region will also have a range of housing options, transportation alternatives, employment opportunities, adequate infrastructure, and access to goods and services as well as health and recreation amenities.
Population Growth: Workforce shortages are a current issue and are projected to be so well into the future due to demographic changes in our population across the nation. Compounding that issue, rural areas are growing at a lesser rate than urban areas and in many cases declining. Through the proposed quality of place investments and community cultivation, we are creating places where people want to live, work, and play. We are creating an atmosphere for health, wellness, and prosperity that is important to employers seeking to retain and attract a talented workforce.
Sustainability: We are building a region that is economically, environmentally, and socially healthy and resilient - A region that meets challenges through integrated solutions rather than through fragmented approaches that meet one of the goals at the expense of others.
Socio-Economic Integration: Our efforts are inclusionary in that all residents and businesses, large and small, are valued and given opportunities to succeed. Focusing on economic development is different than focusing on economic growth. In line with the current movement of inclusive economic development, we will focus our efforts on not just growth, but also the development of our citizens, neighborhoods, and communities so that all can benefit from the prosperity of the region.
What is the proposed distribution of investment by regional stakeholders for the portfolio of projects?
9% Allen County Commissioners
8% Allen County Capital Improvement Board
6% Allen County Council
11% State of Indiana – Stellar Grants
16% Private Senior Investment – Stellar Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Project
16% Other Private (Housing and Façade Improvements)
21% Northeastern Indiana Regional Coordinating Council – State of Indiana Transportation Funds
2% Additional Grant and Fundraising Support Total investment projections to date are $54,221,058. The return on investment local government investment to state, federal and private investment is 192%.
What type of planning has there been toward the proposed portfolio of projects so far?
The region’s communities have been through several planning processes preparing to implement projects. Below is a listing of several of these plans.
Plan-it Allen Comprehensive Plan
New Haven Comprehensive Plan
Leo-Cedarville Comprehensive Plan
NewAllen Alliance Strategic Investment Plan
NIRCC 2035 Transportation Plan
Northeast Indiana Regional Cities Road to One Million Plan
Grabill Economic Development Master Plan
Leo-Cedarville Park and Rec Master Plan
New Haven-Adams Twp. Park and Rec Master Plan
New Haven Utility Study
Monroeville Park and Rec Master Plan
Woodburn Strategic Plan
Woodburn Downtown Revitalization Plan
Maumee Twp. (Woodburn) Parks and Rec Master Plan Allen County Parks Master Plan
ADA Compliance Plans
How do we keep informed about the initiative?
Information about this initiative will be made available on the NewAllen Alliance website at www.newallenallinace.net. Check back regularly as information will be updated on a regular basis. Regular communication will also be shared out on the NewAllen Alliance Facebook page. Go to the page and hit like to see the posts.
What type of public engagement will there be as part of this initiative?
Receiving the designation as a Regional Stellar Community will enable us to work cooperatively with the state on our proposed Stellar projects for funding that is set aside for this purpose. Each project will still need to go through a complete application process. All designs that have been presented are preliminary at this time. Additional opportunities for public input into design development through public meetings will be provided throughout the 2019 – 2022 implementation timeframe
How does this initiative relate to other community and economic development efforts occurring within Fort Wayne/Allen County and Northeast Indiana?
This initiative, aligned with others throughout Allen County and Northeast Indiana will solidify our ability to create a best-in-class economy and community. Building off of a decade of investment into our regional business climate, the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership has recently released Vision 2030. This vision established three goals focused around business attraction, talent attraction, and talent development by which businesses, communities and individuals will collaborate. By 2030, Northeast Indiana must:
Recent investment within Allen County and Fort Wayne has been a lead driver in Northeast Indiana’s regional economic advancement of visionary goals. Of note is the “Fort to Port” project completed in 2012. This project was a collaboration to improve safety and enhance connectivity between Fort Wayne and Toledo, Ohio along US 24. Since project completion, the East Allen County region has experience industrial growth along the corridor, with the opportunity for more expansion.
Over the last ten years, more than $520 million dollars has also been invested into Fort Wayne’s downtown, including the $35 million Grand Wayne Convention Center expansion and the recent $98 million Skyline Plaza consisting of Ash Financial world headquarters. This investment is having a catalytic effect to the vibrancy and prosperity throughout the Northeast Indiana region. Over the next five years, additional planned improvements to Fort Wayne’s downtown will be implemented. This investment includes $110 million in riverfront development-transforming the riverfront into a regional landmark, $35 million into The Landing - bringing boutique shopping and fine dining to Columbia Street, Fort Wayne’s original commercial district, and $440 million into Electric Works – reinvention of the former General Electric campus into a hub of entrepreneurship and innovation.
As the largest (by area) and third most populous county in the State of Indiana, one of Allen County’s greatest assets and challenges is its diversity of place. As Fort Wayne advances as the economic engine of the region, it is important to recognize that a significant portion of Allen County remains rural. Small towns and villages are sprinkled across the Eastern Allen County landscape providing places with a friendly small-town vibe sought out by individuals and families looking to be connected to a small community, but yet also be in close proximity to the jobs and amenities that Fort Wayne has to offer. In short, our rural communities offer great places to live. Due to the limited budgets of our rural areas, they often lack the resources beyond what is used to maintain existing infrastructure to make quality of life enhancements to their communities. That is where the East Allen County Rural Revival Initiative comes into play. Through this initiative, various partners have come together. This initiative supports the regional vision to grow our population by enhancing the livability our rural areas thereby increasing their ability to retain and attract a talented workforce that benefits all of Allen County and Northeast, Indiana.
It is important to recognize that the opportunities to build upon both the rural and urban assets of Allen County are interrelated and equally important. As resources are allocated for initiatives, a both/and verses an either/or operating attitude will bring the highest and best benefit to the county as a whole.
Increase per person per capita income annually compared to the national average
Increase the population of Northeast Indiana to 1 million residents
Increase post-secondary educational attainment to more than 60%
What happens if we don’t receive Indiana Regional Stellar Designation?
If designation is not received, communities will still work to implement the regional development plan. The difference is that because funds are not set aside, plan implementation will take longer (likely 10 years rather than 4), and the region would not benefit from receiving the honor of the Indiana Regional Stellar Community Status which can be a significant enticement for private investors to join in on the excitement and activity spurred by the designation.