Transforming Cluster Strategies: The Central Indiana Corporate Partnership

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Formed in 1999, the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (CICP) convenes the region’s corporate, nonprofit, and education leaders to increase prosperity and ensure the area’s continued growth. While the greater Indianapolis economy had gained momentum from major sports-related investments in the 1980s and 1990s, regional leaders realized new economic development strategies were necessary for continued success in the next millennium. The CICP sought to prepare Central Indiana for the future while leveraging its historic strengths in agriculture and manufacturing. In 2001, CICP and Battelle Memorial Institute published a strategic plan to foster economic expansion centered around industry clusters, entrepreneurship, and public-private partnerships. The plan identified life sciences, technology, and advanced manufacturing and logistics as top priorities, with CICP later expanding its focus to include agrobiosciences and workforce development initiatives.

The key to CICP’s approach has been to comprehensively define clusters by the connections between industries and their shared need of technologies and talent. In other words, CICP acknowledges the interrelated needs of Central Indiana’s priority industries and has grown them simultaneously, maximizing efficiencies. Three core values guide development: conducting exhaustive research, delivering value to its members and local industries, and rallying public and private institutions around shared successes.

Organized as a 501(c)(6), CICP serves as an umbrella organization for five independent talent and industry sector initiatives that exemplify the organization’s core values. Each initiative (BioCrossroads, TechPoint, Conexus Indiana, AgriNovus Indiana, and Ascend Indiana), corresponds to one of the region’s strategic priorities. Additionally, CICP manages three projects that augment all cluster efforts through a placemaking strategy (16 Tech), data-driven economic and workforce analyses (Indiana GPS Project), and equity efforts (Business Equity for Indy) conducted in tandem with the Indy Chamber and the Indianapolis Urban League. An essential element of CICP’s success is the strategic direction and access to resources provided by the CICP Board of Directors which engages more than 50 top-level executives from local companies, universities, and philanthropic entities.

In 2021, CICP began providing market information on key sectors and lead generation assistance through an expanded partnership with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. The Partnership’s expertise and counsel contributed to more than 300 companies locating or expanding in the state that year, surpassing previous records. CICP’s cluster strategy is effective because it is holistic and leverages the synchronicities between industries. This approach encourages collaboration and maximizes the efficiency of funding and support for the benefit of its members, business, and the region. CICP has always taken the long view of ecosystem building and has been deliberate since its inception, laying the foundation for continued economic growth for years to come.

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