Whats in a name? Plenty,
if you decide to change it.
Thats what the former Madison-Jefferson County Economic Development
Corp. (MIDCOR) has done in an effort to better define its mission to the
public. In a three-hour economic summit held July 23 at Ivy Tech Community
College, MIDCOR leaders announced that the organization would from now
on be known as Economic Development Partners, or EDP for short.
Executive Director Corey Murphy and board president Tony Waltz presided
over the business portion of the event, then introduced two speakers,
consultant Tom Ticknor of Chicago and Boomtown USA book author
Jack Schultz of Illinois.
The name MIDCOR did not fully state our purpose, so we felt like
we needed to change it, explained Waltz.
The move comes 25 years of the organizations founding in 1983.
Ever since I got here (a year ago), the No. 1 question I kept hearing
was, What's a MIDCOR? Murphy told the group. The
former name has served us well. But in our strategic planning process,
we decided this new name will carry us forward in a more defining way.
From a website prospective, outside Jefferson County, our name had no
Jefferson County population: 32,704
City of Madison population: 12,579
Town of Hanover population: 3,988
Local workforce: 17,130
High school or higher education: 81%
Bachelors or higher: 16.4%
2006 per capita income: $27,612
Per capita income growth (1996-2006): 14.9%
2005 median household income: $39,527
|Source: EDP website
The name will go on the organizations letterhead
and website, he said.
In a second bold move, the organization hired Ticknor as a consultant
to help define and create a strategic plan. Ticknor, who co-directs economic
development education at Northwestern University, presented his plan to
the more than 100 people in attendance.
Primary to the plan is to build on the communitys strengths and
to recognize and improve in areas of weakness.
You want to help your existing companies prosper and also attract
outside businesses and personal investment, Ticknor said, citing
EDPs mission statement. You want to increase the non-residential
share of the tax base; to be a steady force for public and private collaboration;
and to stimulate quality economic growth.
Using several group exercises, Ticknor had the audience contribute to
listing the communitys benefits and weaknesses. He also shared several
of his own.
In sum, Jefferson County was described as a great place to raise children
and live or retire. It offers a good quality of life, natural beauty,
educational resources, superb health care, low cost of living, low crime
rate, a historic legacy and close proximity to large cities and airports.
Weaknesses cited include poor access to an interstate highway (especially
for trucking), low wages, a small size local workforce for recruiting
employees, a poorly funded economic development effort and poorly funded
marketing of the areas strengths to prospective business and industry.
The area also suffers from a low college graduation percentage and an
antiquated bridge that places a burden on commuters and on transporting
raw materials or finished products.
Compared to neighboring counties, Jefferson ranks well below them in the
amount of money from the private sector to help fund economic development
activities. In fact, Ticknor said it is the poorest funded county in southeastern
Ticknor then listed several economic threats that the community must face
as it goes forward: outsourcing to other companies and and foreign competitors,
rising energy costs, an aging workforce, the need for better educated
workers, manufacturing and automotive industry dependence, too little
technology and entrepreneurship, and finding skilled employees and executives.
He cited statistics showing that 20.5 percent of the countys jobs
are in manufacturing. They also tend to be the highest paying.
Armed with these facts, Ticknor then presented four strategies for the
community to consider: 1. Improve efforts in industrial marketing; 2.
broaden development marketing; 3. accelerate the business park and develop
more amenities; 4. build organization leadership within EDP and collaborate
with key partners in the community.
The highlights of his presentation on these four strategies focused on
taking advantage of active retirees and finding ways to increase private
funding of marketing efforts. He said building and operating an outdoor
live theater would be something to consider, given the close proximity
to large cities. It would be a breakthrough strategy something
different, he said.
Murphy said the entire strategic plan would be made available soon on
the EDP website, which is www.LocateInMadison.com. The local cable TV
Channel 15 also filmed the presentation for airing on a delayed basis.
EDP is a nonprofit organization based at the Venture Out Business Center,
975 Industrial Dr., Madison. It is led by a board of volunteers. For more
information, call Murphy at (812) 265-4769.
Don Ward is the editor, publisher and owner of RoundAbout.
Call him at (812) 273-2259 or email him at: Don@RoundAboutMadison.com.