Visit with IEDC

September 15, 2011



Last month I had some interesting interactions due to my position with Marshall County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC). First, Charlie Sparks, Vice President, and Kim Rodner, Manager of Operations, from Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) came to visit Marshall County.  They were here ostensibly to review sites. Jennifer Laurent, MCEDC Executive Director, and I met with them as representatives of Marshall County Economic Development Corp. They were being shown around our region by Dave Behr, Director of the North Central Region of Indiana Economic Development.  We spent about a half hour in the MCEDC office, about 45 minutes touring some sites around Plymouth and then about another half hour over lunch.  After that they were visiting other counties in our region.

PIDCO Land For Sale

I found it interesting that while they knew of us, they were not familiar with the sites we had to offer. This is despite various interactions Jennifer (and Tom Turner before her) had with them and despite the various sites we have listed on their website. They were aware of Plymouth Industrial Development Corporation (PIDCO) and some of the work they had done in the past, but they were not aware of the PIDCO property northwest of the U.S. 30/Pioneer Drive intersection.  Of the sites we showed them, they found that one the most intriguing and marketable.

As an example of challenges we face, we had a fairly extensive discussion on how we could change the interstate highway criteria that is often included in site locator requests. Apparently requesting sites within 10 miles of an interstate highway is often an eliminator that removes us from consideration. We discussed modifying the way sites are listed to include limited access highways such as U.S. 30 (and as U.S. 31 soon will soon be) in the descriptions.

This is apparently the first time they have done this kind of tour.  They are rarely out of the office despite the fact that site selectors often ask them if they have actually seen the site they are considering.  They were spending several weeks touring all 94 counties to see what is available.  I thought the personal interaction with Jennifer should pay dividends in the future, but only time will tell.

One discouraging note was their discussion of how they pursued projects.  They told of a project they recently landed in “The Region” where they received little or no help from the locals, but still managed to locate a project there.   This description was frustrating to me considering the amount of effort that Marshall County puts into attracting businesses and working with IEDC.  In the end, it comes down to what the business wants and unless you’re selling that, you’re out of luck.   IEDC will be our friend and help, but they are tasked with making the sale too, so they will do what they have to so that new business ends up here in lieu of Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, etc.

Overall, I think this was productive and a good connection to make.  It was disappointing that there wasn’t time to show them the rest of the county.  Hopefully if we have a few sites (or even one!) that stands out in their mind to generate a call, it will get Jennifer’s foot in the door to let them know what else we have when they call.  

Check back for a future entry on my day with Bob Ady, a site selector who I showed around Marshall County.

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