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Angola, Steuben honored for permitting excellence

KPC News Service

Feb 27, 2019

FORT WAYNE — Angola and Steuben County were honored at a permitting recognition reception Feb. 20 hosted by the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership and HPG Network, a news release said.

“The City of Angola has been a proud participant of the Permitting Excellence Coalition since its inception in 2013. We have worked hard to update, streamline and simplify our permitting processes to ensure a more efficient and transparent experience for our residents, developers and contractors. As our community continues to grow, the number of permits issued continues to increase and in turn, we continue to find ways to improve our efforts,” said Retha Hicks, Angola planning assistant.

Clinton Knauer, director of building and planning in Steuben County, said communities in northeast Indiana are experiencing tremendous growth. This growth leads to increased demand for permits.

“In the PEC, we know we must meet the increased demands for permits. It’s a very busy time. For us to succeed, the process must be efficient, affordable and straightforward,” Knauer said.

Streamlined business permitting is a top priority in the region’s business attraction efforts through the Vision 2030 initiative, spearheaded by the Regional Partnership. HPG Network, a non-profit organization dedicated to cultivating thriving communities, manages the permitting program on behalf of the Regional Partnership.

The collaborative effort aims to increase northeast Indiana’s business-friendly environment by making it easier and faster for companies to obtain appropriate permits to build and expand in the region, encouraging economic growth.

The 12 participating jurisdictions in the Permitting Excellence Coalition (PEC) include:

Allen County and city of Fort Wayne, Angola, Decatur, DeKalb County, Huntington County, Huntington, New Haven, Rome City, Steuben County, Wabash, Wells County and Whitley County and Columbia City.

Permitting Excellence representatives met throughout 2018 to focus on process and communication improvements that align with the core customer values of consistency, transparency and easy access.

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Notable accomplishments last year included:

• Collection of data from each jurisdiction to compile regional data and understand the collective regional impact of the work of the coalition;

• Communication with stakeholders and potential investors through a marketing flier and webpage; and

• Ongoing collaboration between jurisdictions.

The coalition achieved these results by administering a customer service survey region-wide, creating a uniform communication piece for potential investors, tracking annual metrics, standardizing websites, creating a membership badge and comparing fees for various types of projects.

“Our goal is to make the permitting process easier for businesses. By streamlining the permitting process, we can help businesses obtain appropriate permits so they can build faster and quickly expand in the region,” Mandy Woods, executive director of community development in Huntington County.

After more than four years of collaboration, the Permitting Excellence Coalition has a strong foundation to continue work on its three core values of consistency, transparency and easy access, the news release said. The group’s efforts in 2019 will allow it to better measure and communicate the effectiveness of the permitting process in order to meet customer needs.

John Sampson, president and CEO of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, said planning and building departments are critical local infrastructure that support the development of businesses and homes that will accompany the region’s population growth.

“No other region in the country has shown the tenacity to pursue streamlined permitting processes the way we have in northeast Indiana,” he said. “The PEC’s determination to streamline their permitting processes gives northeast Indiana a competitive advantage in attracting new businesses and encouraging growth in the region’s existing businesses.”

To learn more, visit the website at neindiana.com/permitting.

The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership’s mission is to build, market and sell Northeast Indiana to increase business investment. Founded in 2006, the public-private partnership strives to build a globally competitive region. The Partnership’s Vision 2030 framework supports collaborative regional efforts to increase per capita income, population growth and educational attainment by focusing on business attraction, talent attraction and talent development. The Partnership represents 11-member counties: Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells and Whitley counties. For more information, visit neindiana.com.