Mike Pence

Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., speaks as he kicks off his campaign for the Republican nomination for Governor of Indiana during an gathering of supporters in Columbus, Ind., Saturday, June 11, 2011.

Michael Conroy

FORT WAYNE, Ind. — An early study shows that an Indiana initiative aimed at making areas more attractive to talented young workers is having a noticeable difference.

Ball State University conducted an initial study on the Regional Cities Initiative, which is aimed at improving quality of life to attract new residents, The Journal Gazette reported. Under the initiative, three regions centered around South Bend, Fort Wayne and Evansville were chosen to each receive a $42 million grant.

Ball State reviewed the state's investment in 64 projects in the state's northeast, north central and southwest regions. The Metro Chamber Alliance, which comprises the chambers of commerce of Indiana's largest cities and various regions, commissioned the study.

Greater Fort Wayne Inc.'s CEO, Eric Doden, said the study shows "progress and momentum" in the regions chosen to receive grants.

"We are all creating the conditions to attract talent and capital to build our community into a nationally recognized economy," Doden said.

But Morton Marcus, a retired Indiana University economist, said he has mixed feelings about the initiative. He's not sure the program is supporting the right projects.

Marcus said he believes the separate cities and counties that make up a region need to be connected to act as one entity.

"If I were going to have a Regional Cities program, I would look at how to connect these regions together," he said.

Former Gov. Mike Pence and the Indiana Economic Development Corp. created the state's Regional Cities Initiative in 2014, and the Legislature agreed to fund it the next year.

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Information from: The Journal Gazette, http://www.journalgazette.net

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