EDC hears COVID-19, shell building updates

An ‘ELF’ has stood extremely tall for some Henry County businesses coping with the effects of COVID-19.

During Thursday’s New Castle-Henry County Economic Development Corp. board meeting, members learned that the organization’s Enterprise Loan Fund has approved seven loans totaling $58,000. EDC President Corey Murphy said that represented half the applications received for the help.

Both the city of New Castle and Henry County government has aided in beefing up the fund.

“The primary reason for the gap between application and funding was the supply of financials,” Murphy said. “The way our program is set up, it’s a very simple preliminary application and then our partner, Scott Underwood from the Small Business Development Center, reaches out to the applicant and requests financial information. And most of the time it’s kind of like the dog ate my homework. He never receives that information and so it cannot go to the committee.”

Meanwhile, Murphy said 18 applications were received in the last three weeks for help available through the City of New Castle’s grant program. The city was awarded a $250,000 grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs.

Grants of up to $25,000 are available under this program. However, at least half of the jobs assisted must be held by persons of low to moderate income.

For more information on the funds, visit www.growinhenry.com, the EDC’s website.

Murphy acknowledged during Thursday’s meeting that many are becoming COVID-19 weary, but he urged maintaining social distancing, wearing a mask and good hygiene.

“We’re tired,” Murphy said. “We’re tired of wearing a mask. We’re tired of social distancing … but our friends at the health department, our friends at the hospital, our friends in the medical community continue to recommend washing of hands, social distancing, wearing a mask in crowded places.

“I believe these habits lead to a healthy economy,” Murphy continued. “This is a marathon, not a sprint. I’m glad we’re opening up but the virus is not gone. We don’t want to live in fear but we want to be respectful and in it for the long haul.”

In other business:

Mayor Greg York announced Baker Pool would open Sunday with a limit of 250 people. “We will not have all the chairs or loungers out,” York said. “It’s going to be beautiful weather the next week or so, but we need to be careful and continue to use safe hygiene. We’re looking forward to reopening the city offices after July 4.”

Work continues on finding a private partner to build a new shell building for the EDC. A “request for proposal” has been sent seeking a partner to construct the facility. After completion, it would then be sold to the County Redevelopment Commission, which would then market it. “It’s a competitive advantage in the site-selection process,” Murphy said. “You’ve heard me say folks (prospective businesses seeking new sites) are looking to vote you off the island, not keep you on the island. So we’ve got to take every reasonable step possible to make sure we are competitive.”

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

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