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Economic development requires cooperation, support

By KEVIN GREEN - kgreen@thecouriertimes.com

Successful economic development is dependent on several factors, but almost always requires a team approach.

That was, in part, the message delivered Thursday morning by Indiana Economic Development Corporation Business Development Project Manager Jessica Tower, who was the featured speaker at this month’s meeting of the Henry County Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors.

Tower said Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb’s approach to making Indiana “a state that works” includes five pillars. They are: Cultivate a strong and diverse economy, fund a long-term road and bridge program, develop workforce, attack the drug epidemic, and provide great government services.

She also shared a lengthy list of statistics about the Hoosier state including the fact Indiana’s most recent unemployment rate was 3.4 percent, lower than any of its neighboring states and the national average of 4.1 percent, and that Indiana is among the top 10 fastest growing state’s with respect to its technology community.

Tower said she works closely with the 11 counties in her district and is always accessible to local officials, economic development leaders and anyone interested in information about or assistance regarding efforts to grow existing businesses and/or to attract new ones to the area.

She also shared her thoughts regarding Henry County’s efforts on that front.

“I think Henry County is doing well,” she said. “We have seen an abnormal uptick in requests for information [from companies interested in locating in Indiana] and what the Henry County is doing is helping them get those submissions.”

She added that communication is one of the most important aspects of the business-attraction process, and said she and New Castle-Henry County Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Corey Murphy touch base frequently.

“It [economic development] really is a team effort,” she said. “It’s not just one individual. It’s not just one organization. We have to do it together, as a whole.”

In support of the approach Tower advocated, Murphy shared an excerpt from a recent magazine article regarding the importance of community-wide support of any given economic development project.

“There is one more issue that determines if your area grows or declines, and that’s local-community attitude,” he read. “In order to do all the things necessary to build an economy, the support of the people and all local governments is necessary. Local laws need to encourage economic growth, not stifle it. Funding from the private and public sector needs to be available to pay for an aggressive economic development program ... . Existing companies need to be encouraged, not berated, and new companies need to be welcomed, not protested.”

Murphy noted Henry County has been fortunate that local elected officials at both the city and county level are willing to work together to advance efforts to retain and attract businesses and jobs here.

The county EDC board meets at 7:30 a.m. the second Thursday of each month in the Community Room at Henry County REMC, 3400 S. Ind. 3, New Castle. The meetings are open to all interested persons.