EDC Christmas Breakfast Sparkles with Optimism

New Castle, Knightstown and Henry County didn’t get the Stellar designation hoped for, but they were winners just the same. 

That was the spirited holiday message Thursday morning during the New Castle-Henry County Economic Development Corp.’s year-end Christmas breakfast. EDC President Corey Murphy said the county had a lot to be proud of – and even more to build upon in 2020.

“While we weren’t the designee, I’m not too unhappy about that,” Murphy said. “If we choose to continue to collaborate and if we choose to implement the regional development plan that was created, we’ve already won. We’ve already won.”

In fact, officials who put together the “Safe & Welcome” entry didn’t come away from the Stellar competition empty-handed.

“Discussions in the future will focus on whether we reapply and how we utilize the consolation prize of $330,000 from a community development block grant,” Murphy said. “That’s phenomenal leverage.”

Maintaining the Stellar momentum is one of Murphy’s goals for the EDC in 2020.

“We absolutely have to keep it up,” Murphy said, emphasizing and praising the “true authentic collaboration” that came from the Stellar process.

The 7-minute video produced for the Safe At Home entry was “phenomenal,” according to Murphy and he encouraged the EDC board members to watch it if they haven’t already. The video will be used by Murphy’s office to promote the county on the EDC website.

“Kenon Gray and others led the creation of that video and it is phenomenal,” Murphy said.

“Kevin Richey of Knightstown put his heart and soul into that video,” Gray added.

Murphy said other EDC goals in 2020 include:

• Implementing and re-energizing the EDC’s business retention and expansion program. “You’ve heard me say the business attraction part is the sexy part,” Murphy said. “And we’re going to continue to pursue the attraction part. But statistically the bread and butter of our community are the local companies that are already here. And so I’ve committed to doing a better job of getting out and meeting with them on a systematic basis.”

Murphy said he and Special Projects Coordinator Penny York recently had a productive visit with Western Products. “The amount of product that comes out of that facility – barn door tracks and a lot of things for ag buildings – is impressive,” Murphy said. “We were going through the shipping area. Montana, Kansas, Idaho and Oregon are places where those products go as well as Indiana.”

• Breaking ground on a new shell building. But Murphy said there is one existing building drawing lots of interest – the former Pan American Bridge facility on New York Avenue. “That building is fantastic in terms of size, ceiling height and cranes,” Murphy said. “It is getting all kinds of interest. We hosted a client yesterday looking at that facility. It is listed with a commercial broker out of Indianapolis, the FC Tucker network. We don’t see all the interest on that building because often times they just go through the broker. I don’t think that building is going to be available very long.”

• Celebrating groundbreaking on a market rate housing project in New Castle;

• Celebrating groundbreaking on a new hotel at Exit 123 – the New Castle exit off of I-70; 

• Confirming a water, sewer and engineering plan including easements for the Hyssadar property at Ind. 103 and Road 300S. “I want to be able to tell a prospect ‘we’re ready to put pipe in the ground, we’ve already secured the easements and we’ll be waiting on you,” Murphy said in terms of getting water and sewer to that 100-acre site;

• Concluding the EDC-CVB discussion with a plan that enhances county tourism marketing support;

• Receiving another EPA grant “We had $500,000. We invested $486,000. We left $14,000 on the table and our consultants tell us that is phenomenal,” Murphy said the money that helped former brownfield areas determine if contaminated soil still existed. “That leveraged well over $1 million in private investment to get properties sold,” Murphy said. “Reinvestment and job creation occurred because we could remove the barrier of an environmental contamination. So we’ve applied for another grant.”

– Story by Darrel Radford (DRadford@TheCourierTimes.comof The Courier-Times. Read more local stories at www.TheCourierTimes.com.

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