Over the past year, we have come to know Jasper and Newton counties as treasures of the Midwest, hidden gems nestled in the heart of Americana. We’ve come to know yours as a second home-an extended family. More than that, though, we’ve come to know you all. Certainly not each and every one of you, but many. We’ve sat, broken bread, sipped coffee, and listened as you all described these counties. You’ve told us about the lived experience of rural Indiana-one we as fellow rural Hoosiers know well-and you’ve told us of the experience you want for your future.
In these past 12 months, we’ve put the microscope on that very chasm: the distance between where you are and where you want to be. We’ve studied it intently, looked at models of success elsewhere in the country, and carefully considered how to deliver new ideas that are the right fit for the unique DNA of your communities.
In that same time, we have, in equal measure, listened, and focused our microscope on those things that make your communities unique, interesting, and warm. It will undoubtedly be no surprise to you that they are many in number. Jasper and Newton counties are both individual and uniquely positioned for success for the coming generations. This plan is your shared vision of how to get there together.
It is easy for any consultant to do what is, by name, the same work we do: strategic planning. They sit back from afar; they study the numbers, the colorful line graphs, the Wikipedia entries, and the census data, then proclaim to know you… what ails you… and how to fix it. To the outsiders, it’s easy to think one rural community is the same as the next and that a visit on Google Maps tells the story of your lives. We know differently. We grew up in rural Indiana. We’re steeped in the lifestyle, the culture, and the challenges. Indeed, I recall many a weekend spent in Roselawn, tending to my grandfather’s Christmas tree farm. Most importantly, we understand that each community is wholly unique.
If you’ve been bored enough to torture yourself with the reading of other strategic plans, you’ll note quickly that this plan is different. It isn’t ours. It isn’t an outsider’s vision of your future. It isn’t full of trendy buzzwords, empty rhetoric, and purposefully vague promises of a generically better tomorrow. It has none of those things. You won’t find little icons and confusing flowcharts talking about “pillars” of a plan for growth. You’re our sort of people. You see through that in a heartbeat.
Instead, what we offer you is simple: a story.
The following narrative plan is your words, your ideas, your vision for the future, to build a more welcoming community; to highlight a unique culture; to deliver on the promises of education and health, and to build up into a sustainable economically-prosperous area. We’ve simply drawn the composite sketch of your vision, put words to it, and created a plan to bring it to life.
This process has delivered unique insight and an actionable plan for several others in the past. But, we have not yet seen a story as vibrant as this. We look forward to, together, breathing life into this story and highlighting the strengths of your communities.
Thank you for an opportunity to share with you in progress and build something extraordinary.
-Marc Oestreich, Director of Strategy at Crane + Grey