Speaker: ‘A lot of good things happening’ for economy

By ALLEN LAMAN
alaman@dcherald.com

JASPER — On Thursday, Brock Herr explained to a crowded audience at the Vincennes University Jasper auditorium that the Indiana Economic Development Commission is continuing to implement strategies to push the state forward.

Herr is the vice president and counsel of business development for the IDEC, and he explained to attendees that, economically speaking, Indiana is already on a roll.

“There’s a lot of good things happening in Indiana’s economy and our trajectory,” he told the crowd. “The nice thing is, while it’s my job to say it, other people are saying it for us as well.”

As of November 2018, Forbes has ranked Indiana as the 11th best state for business, as well as the third best state for regulatory business environment. In July, CNBC ranked the Crossroads State’s infrastructure as the best in the nation. The U.S. News & World Report ranks the state among the best in government efficiency, long-term fiscal stability and affordability.

Ed Cole, president of Dubois Strong, hoped attendees at Thursday’s event would benefit from learning what is happening across the board at the state level.

“I think for us, because we do economic development on the county level, the connection to the state and the programs and projects that they have going on at the state level are hugely important to us,” Cole said of Dubois Strong. “Because we intersect with those on a regular basis.”

Herr explained the IDEC’s mission is to “create opportunity for all Hoosiers to earn a good living and prosper in a diverse environment that encourages growth, creates and retains the jobs of today, and attracts and invests in the jobs of tomorrow.”

Much of his speech detailed the successful programs and efforts the IDEC has launched to create jobs and attract employers. He explained after his presentation that while the organization does operate at a statewide level, once a company identifies a community that it would like to enter, it’s the IEDC’s job to engage and work locally to make it a reality.

“At the end of the day, while our focus is at a state level, it’s ultimately, when we do it day to day, so to speak, it is at the granular level,” Herr said. “Because companies are focused on a specific community with a community-specific set of workers.”

He continued: “We do like to think broader and strategically at the state level because that is our role. We do represent the whole state. But at the end of the day, we know that the broad strategic goal and vision has to be applicable and be able to be applied at the granular, local level. Because otherwise, what are we doing?”

Cole said after the event his organization has shifted its approach to workforce attraction from social media outreach to finding ways to make moving to Dubois County easier for non-residents.

While none of the programs discussed by Herr jumped out to Cole as being necessary in solving Dubois County’s low unemployment problem, he said maintaining a connection to the IDEC is important. If business attraction would ever become a necessity, that bond would be crucial.

“We have to be a player,” Cole said. “We have to be part of that connection going forward because things change.”

Herr said he didn’t have any suggestions as to how to fix the low unemployment issue, but he did speak highly of local investment in apprenticeship programs and other quality of life initiatives. He also said the unemployment rate is a testament to how strong and vibrant the economy is in Dubois County.

“Again, I don’t have suggestions for anybody one way or the other,” he said. “I think it’s more of continuing what’s already being done: this reinvestment in the community and the entities and stakeholders that are here that ultimately attract those people.”




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