Bicentennial Visioning Report Released

Last Updated on September 9, 2016 by cassnetwork

INDIANAPOLIS – Congressman Lee Hamilton and Ivy Tech President Dr. Sue Ellspermann today officially presented the Bicentennial Visioning report to Becky Skillman, former Lt. Governor and co-chair of the Bicentennial Commission, in ceremonies at the State Capitol. The report documents the recommendations from over 150 statewide thought leaders who attended visioning sessions encompassing the eleven broad subject areas of life in Indiana.

Congressman Hamilton, who co-chairs the Bicentennial Commission, shared the visioning concept his fellow commissioners affirmed almost two years ago.  He explained, “In the celebration of our first 200 years as a state, we would miss an opportunity if we did not also use this time to consider Indiana’s next century.”  Based on that premise, the Bicentennial Visioning Project was designed to elicit “big ideas” for the next 25 to 50 years from a wide-ranging group of Hoosier thought leaders with the intent that these ideas would serve as catalysts for public and private sector policies in the years to come.

President Ellspermann served as a director of the Bicentennial Visioning Project and facilitated each of the thirteen visioning sessions.  She noted, “Each session was a lively and productive discussion of the subject area with as many as 100 ideas emerging from this intense interaction. For the purposes of this report, each group was asked to recommend no more than five ‘Big Ideas that would have the most positive impact on our state’. These ideas were further fleshed out by editor Norm Heikens, with the help of thought leaders, to comprise the Visioning Report.”

Ellspermann also announced that the Sagamore Institute will advance the Bicentennial Visioning Report ideas through its new Third Century Project. Jay Hein, President and CEO of the
Sagamore Institute, noted, “We at Sagamore are extremely impressed with the work of the
Bicentennial Visioning Project and believe that the report must not remain just another book on the shelf. As an element of our emphasis on citizenship, we see this report as a citizen agenda for the future of Indiana and are eager to promote these ‘big ideas’ through our programming in the months and years ahead.”

The Bicentennial Visioning Report was drafted by Norm Heikens, a veteran Indianapolis journalist, who served as editor and project manager.  Background research for each session was conducted by the IU Public Policy Institute. Funding for the project was provided by Old National Bank.

The full report is available online at

About the Indiana Bicentennial Commission
Indiana’s 2016 Bicentennial celebration aims to honor our state’s 200 years of history, but to do so in a way that engages all 6.5 million Hoosiers and leaves a lasting legacy for future generations. The Commission has endorsed more than 1,300 Legacy Projects in all 92 counties that focus on the four Bicentennial pillars: youth and education, historical celebration, community involvement and nature conservation. A large emphasis throughout this year is on the health and well being of Indiana children, as they are the true legacy of the Bicentennial. More information is available at

Bicentennial Visioning Report Background

“Observing the Indiana Bicentennial is a time to celebrate our history and all of the past contributions that have made us the state and the people that we are today. However, I believe that we miss an opportunity as we focus on our state if we do not also look ahead to our future. I see this Visioning Project as a way to capture the best ideas for Indiana’s future from today’s big thinkers across a wide range of economic social, and cultural issues.”

-Indiana Bicentennial Commission Co-Chair Lee H. Hamilton


Indiana is celebrating its 200th birthday energetically. The anniversary has inspired nearly 1,400 Legacy Projects endorsed by the Bicentennial Commission as of July 8, 2016, and more projects continue to be submitted daily.

While virtually all of the observances recognize the state’s substantial and colorful history, the Commission also wished to inspire Hoosiers to reach for an even brighter future. Thus the commission requested a report setting ambitious goals for the state to achieve within the next fifty years. The process and the report were to soar above legislative sessions and partisan politics to gather thoughts and dreams of some of the state’s most forward-thinking citizens.

The vision was caught by then-Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann, who with Commission members determined to address 11 topics ranging from agriculture to religion, and hired a project manager and editor, long-time Indianapolis newspaper reporter and editor Norm Heikens, to lead the endeavor.

More than 600 visionaries and experts were located from throughout the state, and 114 attended the Visioning Session focus groups in cities around the state. The participants were selected for diversity of perspectives in addition to their expertise.

Prior to each session Indiana University researcher Dr. Breanca Merritt presented statistical overviews of the status of each topic area. Governor Ellspermann then facilitated the sessions. Each group generated approximately 100 ideas, and Martha Steckler, who also scribed the conversations, guided the groups to a consensus handful of recommendations.

Each session was characterized by a palpable, energetic spirit of optimism.

Heikens followed up with major proponents of each recommendation to refine and clarify the ideas, and compiled the thoughts into the Visioning Report.

The Visioning Report will be printed and posted online. Many of the 50 recommendations are based on such themes as capitalizing on technology and globalization, improving quality of life, emphasizing education, and improving Indiana’s brand as an attractive place to live, work, and play.

The Visioning Report will be carried into an expanded second phase by The Sagamore Institute through a new initiative called the Third Century Project. Hoosiers who have received the Sagamore of the Wabash Award along with others who wish to help implement the recommendations will be encouraged to choose a recommendation and throw their collective efforts behind it. The Third Century Project will commence on September 8 at the Indiana Conference on Citizenship, to be held the day after the report is unveiled.

SOURCE: News release from State of Indiana