As he looked into the audience, Corey Murphy said he saw more than just a group of people.
“A group is a bunch of people in an elevator. A team is a bunch of people in an elevator but the elevator is broken. A team works together,” Murphy said. “Whatever role you have in this community, I appreciate you because it takes a team.”
With that quote from Bonnie Edelstein, a consultant in organizational development, the New Castle-Henry County Economic Development Corp. President began his annual-meeting remarks Thursday, praising what public officials, community leaders and volunteers had accomplished as a “team” in 2018. By all accounts, it was a winning season.
Murphy offered some impressive statistics on how the local EDC has made a difference in Henry County.
In 2018 EDC support of the private sector resulted in a $7.8 million investment, 35 retained jobs and 69 announced new jobs. Since 2014, EDC support of private investment has helped generate $103 million in private investment and at least 750 actually created new jobs. A $500,000 Environmental Protection Agency brownfield grant received three years to conduct Phase 1-2 Environmental Reviews will be out of funds sometime this summer. Murphy said the grant has helped assess 20 local properties. “This money cannot be used to clean up, only to assess but we’ve leveraged $126,000 in clean-up funds. The beautiful part is that we assisted in taking some properties that had environmental issues or the perception of environmental issues and were able to get those properties in a position so the private sector could invest. And so we’ve leveraged over a million dollars in private investment. We’re preparing to apply for more money. It has been a very good tool in our toolbox. We hope to continue to have that available. Penny York is our primary manager of that program.” Since 2012, the EDC’s revolving loan fund program has provided more than $350,000 to 13 different small businesses. “Ten of those businesses are still in operation,” Murphy said. “So we’re not just about attracting the large. We’re also here to help the small and the start-ups. If it’s a really good business plan and people have their act together so to speak, but it’s not bankable, we take a hard look at it.” Murphy credited Christy Ragle owner of Wholeheart Communications for her work in highlighting people in the community who have moved away but returned and are successful in their field. “It’s to tell a story that there is opportunity here,” Murphy said.
Realtor Cara Taylor, Middletown Fab-A-Cab owner Josh Anderson, Cory Bennett, manager of Boar’s Head, Jennifer Barnett of Barnett Co., the Weimers veterinary clinic in Knightstown are all examples of those who have come home again.
Murphy also thanked the Henry County Community Foundation for grants. A $15,000 grant for workforce development. That money helped the EDC leverage neighboring counties and led to over a million in workforce training and companies here were invited to participate in that. “Just a few days ago, we were awarded a grant from the community foundation to start working on tourism capacity and partner with the CVB to maximize that very important sector of our local economy.
Murphy cautioned that economic development is not an exact science. Some things will always be out of control.
“We could do everything right and still not be selected,” Murphy said. “You can’t force somebody to invest in your community. Our work is really about creating a place people want to be, where you want to raise your family.”
Murphy knows first-hand about that. He spoke of his oldest son who is one of many benefiting from education opportunities at the New Castle Career Center. The EDC is in its first year of partnership with career center, helping them purchase a CNC machine for training.
“It is a gem,” Murphy said. “I say that as a parent. My oldest son is enrolled in the New Castle Career Center. It’s an awesome program. It’s also a great pipeline of talent for our workforce.”
In other business at the annual meeting:
New EDC officers approved Shannon Thom as chair, Cathy Hamilton as vice chair, Darren Jacobs as treasurer and John Greene as secretary. Those approved for an EDC board seat included John Greene, Cara Taylor, Jerry Libby, Susan Falck-Neal, Nate LaMar and Forrest Plank for terms that extend through 2022. Presented out-going board president Jon Madison with a gift in recognition of his four-year tenure in that role and thanked Maurie Goodwin for his many years of service not only for the EDC, but many other local organizations. Thanked the New Castle Breakfast Optimist Club for preparing the meal and New Castle High School students for serving at the dinner. The $25 dinner cost will go for Optimist youth programs and maintenance of the huge American flag at Your Park near the intersection of Ind. 3 and 38. A clean-shaven Corey Murphy joked his four-year-old son Maxwell offered “to go back to the beard store and get dad a new beard.” It was the first time the youngster had seen his dad without one.
– Story by Darrel Radford of The Courier-Times. Read more local stories at www.thecouriertimes.com.