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Economic Development Partners

MIDCOR is now EDP in effort to
better define its mission

Consultant Ticknor outlines a new strategy
to pursue development

 

 
(August 2008)
Read previous Don Ward columns!
Don Ward

What’s in a name? Plenty, if you decide to change it.
That’s 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 organization’s 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 presence.”

Jefferson County, Ind.,
economic statistics
• 2007 unemployment: 4.9%
• 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%
• Bachelor’s 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 organization’s 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 community’s 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 EDP’s 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 community’s 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 area’s 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 Indiana.
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 county’s 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.

 

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