Cornerstone Alliance joins regional business recruiting initiative

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

BENTON HARBOR — Cornerstone Alliance is teaming up with a regional, two-state business recruiting initiative to attract new businesses and create jobs.

The Benton Harbor-based economic development organization has joined with Berrien County Community Development and Southwest Michigan Economic Growth Alliance in teaming up with Michiana Partnership Inc.

Rob Cleveland, Cornerstone Alliance’s president and CEO, said the partnership will be focused on strengthening business attraction for Berrien County.

Michiana Partnership Inc., known as MPI, is a collection of local economic development organizations from Elkhart, Marshall and St. Joseph counties in Indiana.

“They are a marketing firm. Their job is to get out around the country and the globe to talk about our regional work force and assets,” Cleveland said. “This is a great example of another avenue for Berrien County to be recognized at trade shows and other events.”

Cleveland said in recent years, SWMEGA has joined the initiative while Cornerstone paid a contract for the services.

The partnership evolved through what Cleveland said was “kind of an organic discussion.”

“In our business we have to be out traveling and telling the Berrien County story,” Cleveland said. “This is the best way of doing that. I thought it made sense for Berrien County to be an officially recognized member.”

Cleveland said the move will not be temporary, as he doesn’t see an end for the partnership.

Regional business attraction efforts for states that share borders are happening more throughout the country, Cleveland said. Economic development has moved in the direction of regional cooperation, rather than by county.

MPI will now market the northern Indiana and Southwest Michigan region at industry-specific trade shows and other events across the country.

“We also think it’s about maximizing resources,” Cleveland said. “Companies invest their dollars with Cornerstone and this partnership is a way to be resourceful with their investment.”

The attraction efforts are focused on site selectors and advisers representing industries that are considering an expansion or relocating their business. When MPI gets wind of these opportunities, they present them to members.

“We are delighted with this partnership,” said Regina Emberton, president and CEO of MPI, in a news release. “…Whether Berrien County or one of our Indiana counties is successful in luring a new business to their community, it positively impacts the entire region.”

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@TheHP.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on March 13, 2016)

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