Local EDC's are Strong,Willing, and Ready

Local EDCs are Strong, Willing, and Ready
- staff reports, KPC News online
At the recent 2011 Northeast Indiana Regional Economic Development Forum in Angola, a nationally-known economist spoke about the need for quality economic development agencies on the local level.  Jerry Szatan of the site selection firm Szatan & Associates, Chicago, and a former economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, talked about the importance of strong economic development offices locally.  One only needed to look around the room at Glendarin Hills Golf Club for evidence of our four-county area filling the need for quality economic development agencies.  All of the economic development directors were there, including Ken McCrory of DeKalb County, Keith Gillenwater of LaGrange County, Rick Sherck of Noble County and Susan Miller of Steuben County.  Even Miller’s successor who will be joining the Steuben EDC when she leaves next month, Dave Koenig, was on hand.  Szatan stressed that local EDC staff need to be knowledgeable of their communities. Check.  He said they need to be responsive to the needs of site selectors and other economic development professionals who come calling. Check.  The people staffing these offices need to be professional and know what incentives might be available, from the Indiana Economic Development Corp. down to the little things that cities and towns have in their arsenal.  Check.
Szatan also offered advice on some of the fine points that make a quality EDC website.  He talked about ways to make communities easy to find and therefore attractive to site selectors.  One interesting point Szatan made was when a site selector comes calling, he or she has already waded through a host of possible sites for a particular client. By the time the site selector comes knocking on the door in northeast Indiana it’s because a certain county, city or town is a finalist.And that’s when we need to be at our best. That’s when we need to be able talk about our quality of education, our workforce, tax structure, quality of life and so on.  When a community is a finalist for a particular company, “That’s when quality of life can make a difference,” Szatan said.  So, our economic development agencies need to be ready.  We need to have all of what Szatan outlined and more.Do we meet all of the criteria Szatan laid out in the economic development forum? Perhaps. Can we get better?  Most likely.  The good thing is we have a great starting point with quality EDC offices staffed with qualified professionals.  We might not always win the competition for a new company, but at least we’re well positioned to give it our best shot.

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