EDC leaders praise county’s COVID response

Rising from the “dumpster-fire year” called 2020 is a civic glow spreading throughout Henry County.

So said New Castle-Henry County Economic Development Corp. President Corey Murphy Thursday morning, who told EDC members local response to those businesses with COVID-19-related needs has been “phenomenal.”

“To date, more than $500,000 has been granted and distributed the small business community in Henry County,” Murphy said.

By contrast, what Henry County has already done is just being started in the Indianapolis area. Murphy said recently a restaurant rescue program was launched in the capitol city.

“We did this three months ago,” he said. “I think the community has a good story to tell in the midst of a bad year. I’m really proud to be a part of a community that supports its small businesses.

Like the businesses helped, the COVID-19 help has been diverse. Murphy said the money has come from varied sources – a federal grant obtained by the City of New Castle; a New Castle Main Street resiliency grant and an enterprise revolving-loan fund.

Thursday’s meeting was again held in the recently renovated W.G. Smith Building, a facility that continues to draw rave reviews, not only locally, but across the state from those who come to visit.

“We recently hosted a regional meeting here,” Murphy said. Many of these folks grew up coming to this park as children. There was a sincere buzz in the room about how beautiful this place is. It is really a quality of life/tourism tool for the EDC.”

In other business:

Board members approved a contract with the local tourism commission subject to approval by legal counsel on both sides. Murphy said the merger of the two entities will ultimately provide an additional revenue stream the EDC can use to enhance local tourism efforts.

Middletown representative Jake Smith said the recent Fall Fun Fest was a big success. “Overall, it was probably one of the most successful events the committee has done,” Smith said. The event was held with COVID-19 safety in mind, with “hand sanitizers everywhere” and “most people wearing masks. The musical group “Walker County,” a local duo who has made it onto the national stage, sold out a concert performance here during the festival. Smith said representatives from other communities have called him, asking how such a successful and safe festival was held in COVID-19 conditions.

Cathy Hamilton reported on the Stellar Communities’ project of repairing homes using money from the $333,000 consolation prize. She said there were 37 applicants from around the county and as many as 22 properties that will receive vital remodeling to keep owners in their homes.

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

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