IEDC Economic Development Seminar

I attended a seminar put on by IEDC (Indiana Economic Development Corporation) in Indianapolis last week.  I was fortunate that it was in the morning before an ABC State Board meeting in the afternoon, allowing me to combine the trip to Indy.  It still made a ridiculously long day since I had to hit the road before 6:00 to be at the seminar at 9:00, driving between the two in lieu of eating lunch and then leaving the ABC meeting I didn’t get home until about 7:30. 

I attended as Chairman of MCEDC (Marshall County Economic Development Corporation) along with MCEDC staff, Jennifer Laurent and Derek Spier.  I was pleased that Grant Munroe, Ralph Winters and and Rick Tompos attended on behalf of the Culver Redevelopment Commission and that Mayor Mark Senter and City Attorney Sean Surrisi attended on behalf of the City of Plymouth.  It was unfortunate that there weren’t others from Marshall County able to attend.

The program centered around creative ways communities and economic development corporations were encouraging growth through the use of TIF Districts, shell buildings and virtual computer presentations.   Several different EDC’s presented on their use of these tools to attract development.

Both Culver and Plymouth have TIF Districts in Marshall County and both have used them successfully.  Plymouth has been more creative than Culver, but nowhere near as creative as some of the presentations that were made last week!  In a nutshell, money taken in by the TIF Districts must be spent on capital projects to benefit the TIF District, which allows quite a bit of leeway in interpretation.  One interesting use involved the coordination of a single county wide TIF District coordinating two City Redevelopment Commissions in conjunction with a County Redevelopment Commission.  Can you imagine if Marshall County communities could foster that kind of cooperation!?!  I think it generated quite a few new ideas in the attendees.

The use of shell buildings was discussed.  Plymouth had been considering contracting for a shell building on  PIDCO property on the northwest side of the City.  I’m sure hearing the success of other communities with these ventures helped spur the signing of a letter of intent with Garmong Construction this past Tuesday night.  (WTCA story here.)  This will result in a new, 45,000 sf (expandable to 135,000 sf) tilt-up concrete building being constructed west of Pioneer Seed on Commerce Drive.  In our just-in-time delivery society, it’s common that we’re passed over by site selectors when we don’t have a building that fits their needs ready to go.  The anecdotal evidence presented suggested that having the building there got prospects to the community.  Even when the building didn’t fit their exact requirements, it often got them there to consider other available sites.

During MCEDC’s discussions with Ady-Voltedge, our marketing consultant, we often heard the benefits of virtual site build-outs.  It was presented that by showing what a building looked like on the site, a prospect would find it easier to make the jump to visualizing THEIR building on the site.  An example of this was shown where an existing, dilapidated, empty building was shown with a virtual facelift, new landscaping and cars in the parking lot.  They were able to sell the client on this vision before ever taking them to see the existing building.

I hope the other attendees came back with the new enthusiasm I gained from these presentations.  Indiana should be poised for a leap forward in economic prosperity.  Indiana is a business tax friendly, Right-To-Work State at the crossroads of America.  Marshall County needs to take every opportunity to be part of the leap in renewed growth Indiana is about to experience.

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