EcO Network key piece of state’s talent initiative

The State of Indiana is in the midst of an initiative that is focused on communities working together to increase their region’s population, educational attainment and household incomes.

That’s a noble goal. Communities should want residents to have more education and earning power, as it benefits residents, and the community.

And, it’s good to know that the state has a great example to turn to in this effort.

The EcO Network of Southeast Indiana, which is an initiative of the Columbus-based Community Education Coalition, has been working toward the same goals for more than a decade.

The EcO Network, which represents communities such as Columbus, Seymour, North Vernon, Greensburg, Batesville and Rising Sun, started in 2007 as Economic Opportunities through Education by 2015, or EcO15. Its purpose was to create a regional learning system that would create economic opportunities through education, resulting in increased educational attainment, well-paying jobs and a greater quality of life for residents in the region.

It’s apparent that the local efforts have resonated at the state level. The 21st Century Talent Region initiative already receives technical assistance from Columbus-based CivicLab, a program of the Community Education Coalition that teaches collaboration among community stakeholders.

Now the office of Gov. Eric Holcomb has designated the EcONetwork of Southeast Indiana as a 21st Century Talent Region — making it the second region in the state to receive the designation.

Communities within the EcO Network have agreed to collaborate on goals and strategies for talent attraction in the region.

The state designation should help make the EcO Network of Southeast Indiana even more of a recognized, go-to source of information, assistance and partnerships in the ongoing effort to increase educational attainment so that employers and residents benefit through a pipeline of talent to support industry sectors.

Holcomb’s office was wise to tap into local educational attainment efforts to support the state initiative, and the talent region designation is a worthy tribute to the efforts of the EcO Network.