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CEO Letter

A message from CEO, Tara Barney

1 Year Strong — E-REP Celebrates With a Year Full of Wins

One year. April 1 marked the one-year anniversary of E-REP. One year since three legacy organizations came together to form the Evansville Regional Economic Partnership (E-REP).

While many pursue a merger or organizational realignment in response to challenges, we did so in recognition of, and pursuit of, heightened opportunity. We’re still a work in progress. But we do have a lot to be proud of in our first year.

Much of our first year was invested in responding successfully to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s May 2021 announcement to commit $500 million in strategic regional investments in quality of place and talent attraction. Leading the charge, the Evansville Region responded to the READI announcement by organizing a steering committee to guide the structure of a regional plan to achieve our vision to be the talent and economic region of choice in the Midwest. The steering committee met first in June to discuss and prioritize hundreds of perspectives and ideas to clarify our plan. In addition to the steering committee, community visioning sessions, public input, and participation from business and educational leaders also played a crucial role in developing the region’s shared vision to accelerate both economic and population growth.

In partnership with the Southwest Indiana Regional Development Authority (SWIRDA), E-REP submitted its regional development plan in September and celebrated a $50 million win for the Region in December.

But that’s not all we accomplished…
In September E-REP launched a highly requested and much-needed Newcomers’ Guide; a tool to help our region compete and win in the war for talent. Available digitally and as a printable version, the guide covers living, learning, dining, arts and culture, experiences and more, all found in the Evansville Region.

In October E-REP, alongside community partners, published a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Toolkit for employers, available on our website. If you’ve followed our initiatives this year, you know we placed an intentional emphasis on DEI through a series of events where best practices on how to implement and improve DEI in the workplace were shared. The DEI Toolkit rounds out our shared journey of advancing economic inclusion and encourages businesses of all sizes to take the first steps in implementing a DEI strategy for their organization or advance an existing one.

And as the standard-bearer for the region’s business community, E-REP launched a new monthly event in February of this year called A.M. Connect. The event intentionally brings awareness to the often behind-the-scenes work happening in our region. It’s your opportunity to know more about the greatest economic producers, the big work of our public and private partners to make our community an excellent place to live, and a look at what’s on the horizon for the Evansville Region.

For the second year in a row, the Southwest Indiana Small Business Development Center (SW Indiana SBDC), hosted by E-REP, was recognized as the highest performing center in the state. The SW Indiana SBDC assisted 494 clients last year, including 45 new business starts.

Our team continues to work to advance the region’s strategic vision (Talent 2025) with lead roles in achieving the plan’s population growth, wage growth and employment growth goals. We are the voice to market our region’s strengths to businesses and talent looking for a great location to operate a business, to live, and to thrive.

Leadership changes, blending teams and cultures, developing new communication tools such as our website and operating systems is the usual work of a newly created organization. We’re pretty proud of our team — your professional partners. These accomplishments were completed all while continuing to support the interests of our members and investors as well as the economic growth and prosperity goals of the Evansville Region.