Dubois Strong measures economic impact

Herald Staff Writer

Three programs in which Dubois Strong is involved have a direct, measurable effect, including one that has generated nearly $35 million in economic impact over a five-year period.

These programs give an advantage to local businesses through tax credits, job creation and retention, increased sales and savings.

Purdue University’s Technical Assistance Program, in which the county’s economic development organization invests $50,000 annually, reports to have by far the greatest impact. TAP works to maximize the efficiency of companies in several industries in Indiana. Vincennes University Jasper Campus, which also invests in TAP, provides office space for its local business industry and account manager, Adam Auffart.

Between September 2007, when Dubois Strong first partnered with TAP, and September 2012, the program served 11 companies, created $34.9 million in economic impact, retained 211 jobs and created 10 jobs, according to program reports. Of the $34.9 million, $8.7 million came from increased sales, $21.4 million from retained sales, $3.3 million from cost savings and $1.5 million from investment.

David Snow, director of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which is managed by TAP, said that those numbers are reported by the companies to an independent third party. These companies go through a set of standardized questions to figure out what kind of impact TAP has had.

“We do it this way so the client doesn’t feel compelled by us, across the table asking questions,” Snow said.

After help from TAP, a company might be making 1,200 units a day, up from 1,000, Snow said as an example. The difference in efficiency, production and cost of goods is where that $34.9 million gets measured.

“The numbers are reported by the companies themselves,” he reiterated.

In a second program, Dubois Strong helped area companies apply for local tax abatements and for tax credits through the Indiana Economic Development Corp. Some companies looking to expand weren’t aware of the credits available to them, Dubois Strong’s interim president, Michael Cummings, said. Dubois Strong helped them go through the process. Three companies applied and received more than $2 million in credits, according to the Indiana Economic Development Corp.
Dubois Strong’s third program is its Enterprise Loan Fund. Since 2007, the group has offered small, low-interest loans to local businesses and startups through the fund. So far, 11 loans have been given, totaling $205,000. The loans are made to businesses that either have been denied traditional financing or that have reached their traditional financing limit, Cummings said.

“So basically, it’s providing an opportunity for people who may not have another opportunity to start a business,” he said.

As a result of the loans, 35 new jobs have been created in the county, Cummings said. Those jobs were reported to the group by the loan recipients.

Mark Seibert, owner of Celebration Ice in Jasper, was one of the first to receive a loan, for $20,000 to be repaid over five years.

“It definitely helped a lot,” Seibert said. “It allowed me to start out bigger.”

Another benefit that he mentioned was harder to measure. As a result of applying for the loan, he was able to make more connections in the community, and start out with more clients.

“I’ve gotten to know some of them very well and they’re still helping me to this day,” he said.

Contact John Seasly at jseasly@dcherald.com.

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