EDC director counts blessings in difficult year; Even in COVID-19, thankful for a lot in 2020

Corey Murphy, like many, many others in Henry County, will be glad when the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31 when the tumultuous, tragic and trying year known as 2020 will at last, be over.

Yet, the local president of New Castle-Henry County Economic Development was also counting his blessings Thursday morning.

For partnerships.
For shell buildings.
For dedicated staff.

Murphy’s positive report not only shed light on continued help available for businesses in Henry County struggling with COVID-19 impacts, but also bright hopes for 2021.

More grant opportunities

Murphy said a partnership between New Castle Main Street and Henry County government, specifically the Henry County Council, has created another grant opportunity for local businesses to help cope with the pandemic.

“Even though it is being managed by New Castle Main Street, it is available county wide,” Murphy explained. “We appreciate the collaboration with the county. Businesses all over the county can apply.”

Murphy explained grants up to $3,000 are available for Henry County businesses with 30 employees or less or an organization that impacts tourism or quality of life. The grant are designed for use creating or enhancing e-Commerce on websites or modifying businesses in some way to adapt to the COVID pandemic.

“I call it the ‘pivot grant,’” Murphy said.

Here’s how it works.

New Castle Main Street and Henry County Commissioners and Henry County Council are committed to providing funding for e-Commerce and business adaptation to Henry County small businesses (30 employees and under) or Henry County organizations that impact tourism or quality of life (as defined by the Henry County Tourism Report – 2019). Grants for e-Commerce or business adaptation will be awarded to applicants approved by the grant review committee. Maximum grant awarded will be $3,000. The e-Commerce and Adaptation Grant is subject to availability of approved, appropriated funds.

Funding for this program is limited, and therefore partial grant awards to applicants may be necessary. Grant dollars must be used by July 1, 2021. Grantees must provide receipts and invoices of funds spent within 120 days of receiving the grant. An extension can be filed in the case the grant hasn’t been fully spent.

An application link is available on the New Castle Main Street Facebook page. More information can also be found at newcastledown town.com. Applications will be accepted as long as funding remains.

Murphy told EDC members it’s just the latest example of what has been an inspiring effort to help businesses cope with COVID.

“I’ve said all along through this pandemic that our community’s response in mitigating the impact on businesses – people watch that and people remember that.”

Shell building value

Quoting Jay Garner, author of a book entitled “Economic Development is not for amateurs,” Murphy summed up the value of having a shell building in four simple words.

“No product, no project.”

The fact that a new shell building project is already under way added another blessing for Murphy to count in 2020. Planned to be built north of Boar’s Head North – which, by the way, was the former shell building – this new structure would contain 50,000 square feet and be expandable to 100,000 square feet. It would be constructed on land the Henry County Redevelopment Commission already owns.

“Our ability to throw our name in the hat or our ability to submit an RFI (request for information) or an RFP (request for proposal) has been greatly enhanced since the approval of the shell building,” Murphy said. “It’s amazing what having product does. What having sites and buildings that are truly available and truly served with adequate infrastructure – broadband, water, sewer, electric, gas and having a building – we’re able to increase our chances and throw our name into the hat in terms of opportunities.”

Dedicated staff

As he counts his blessings, Murphy is glad that he’s not a one-man economic development band.

“I’m extremely grateful for Penny (York) and Kelli (Wasson),” Murphy said. “I’ve said often from day one and it bears repeating that many counties our size only have a half time or a full time economic developer. Just one. We have a team of three and so capacity is extremely important. So I’m grateful to have the team.”

Murphy said the county provides York’s position. Soon, one of her important efforts will help tell the story of Henry County.

“Penny has been finishing the community video, a partnership between the county and CTI,” Murphy said. “That community overview video should be launched and live in January. It provides a welcome, an economic and tourism development overview. We’re pleased to have those updated videos available and we’re excited about that.

Wasson, meanwhile, has been an office anchor, with 13 years experience at the EDC.

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

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