Team approach key to future economic growth

Henry County is a place where team play is legendary. Basketball banners hang from gyms all across the county. A New Castle museum here celebrates great team players from across the state. A movie was made using a storied gym in Knightstown.

During its June meeting, members of the New Castle-Henry County Economic Development Corp. heard from the “coaches” of two other winning “teams” determined to help local communities light up the business attraction scoreboard.

Mike Row, who leads a regional workforce board, and Mindy Kenworthy, president of the East Central Indiana Regional Partnership, spoke to members via Zoom about ways these teams are working together to improve the economy in Henry County.

Here’s a brief recap.

Mike Row

Mike Row, president and CEO of Eastern Indiana Works, said a silver lining has risen from COVID-19 through the “Telecoach” program.

“No one saw this pandemic coming,” Row said. “Telecoach has come in handy during the quarantine and social distancing.”

Telecoach enables residents looking for a job to meet with talent development specialists via computer to discuss interests and needs, resume techniques, best practices for networking and interviewing as well as other important career guidance. It’s free, and can be accessed via cell phone as well.

“In Henry County, we have a mobile office in the library,” Row said.

Row said as many as 2,000 clients are served per day via Telecoach, “far above what we were serving in a bricks and mortar setting.”

The Eastern Indiana Works Board has had, in Row’s words, “an extraordinary emergence as one of the leading workforce development boards.”

One prominent Henry County businessman, Kirk Robbins of Magna, is on that board.

For more information, log on to easternindianaworks.org/telecoach on computer or cell phone.

Mindy Kenworthy

President of the 10-county East Central Indiana Regional Partnership, Kenworthy says this “team” serves as an extension of local economic development efforts.

“I think most importantly, our role is to build trust and collaboration within the 10-county region and with other regional organizations in East Central Indiana,” Kenworthy said.

Kenworthy said COVID-19’s impact would be long-lasting, but need not be catastrophic.

“Probably for all of us moving forward, everything is going to be looked at as pre-COVID and post-COVID-19 and the impact it’s had,” she said. “Pre-COVID had historically low unemployment rates, businesses desperately needed people, especially skilled workers in advanced manufacturing, health care, information technology. Now post-COVID, (we’re) looking at historically high unemployment rates which I hope is just going to be temporary.”

Kenworthy said a regional brand name, logo and website is being developed under the theme “Forge Your Path.” An asset library will be available to each county.

She hopes to build on tourism successes in places like Henry County, where the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, Hoosier Gym, Saddle Club events, Summit Lake and more draw people here by the thousands.

“We see visitors coming to our county’s attractions as potential residents,” Kenworthy said. “If they like what they’re seeing, we want them to consider moving here some day.”

Attracting new residents will be important in the future. Kenworthy said population trends from the Indiana Business Research shows that by 2050, three of ten counties in East Central Indiana will experience a less than 10 percent decline, while seven others will see a more than 10 percent decline.

But Kenworthy said she is confident the “teams” here are up to the challenge.

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

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