Franklin County’s top sales establishments by level were stage 0, single-family home construction, $1.5 million; stage 1, fertilizer, seven employees, $7.2 million; stage 2, national commercial banks, 50 employees, $10.4 million; and stage 3, life insurance carriers, 275 employees, $317.9 million.
Beaulieu pointed out that the $70 million in sales by Ripley County self-employed “is something we shouldn’t sneeze at.”
Gary Norman, Ripley County Economic Development Corp. executive director, said he tries to attract firms of all sizes, especially stage 2 firms, instead of just large companies. This summer he will helicopter interested Cincinnati site consultants and business leaders to view county assets.
The presenters explained the CARE model: creation (encourage formation of new businesses); attraction (recruit industries or businesses); retention; and expansion (push for growth). He wondered, “Are you focusing on these different economic development approaches in a balanced manner?”
Norman and Cheryll Obendorf, Economic Opportunities Through Education by 2015 (EcO15) Ripley County coordinator both reported they are working on business retention. Norman also spends time on planning and zoning issues, such as mixed use properties.
She also is focused on career development, “creating career pathways for students. We’ve supported the Maverick Challenge,” a student entrepreneurship contest. In addition to Oldenburg Academy, “we would like to see more schools involved with that … it’s a great program,” Obendorf maintained. Batesville community development director Sarah Lamping added, “It’s quite a commitment.”
Beaulieu said another asset that can help with retention and expansion is a technical assistance program. Sometimes offered at tech parks, the course can provide up to 40 hours of free training in lean manufacturing and other topics.
David Osborne, Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service Ripley County director, said, “If someone would ask me what our focus is, I’d say retention and expansion, and creation to some extent.”
Melissa Tucker, Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce executive director, said, “We’re doing smaller programs” to support local workers, from starting Batesville Young Professionals to boosting Ivy Tech Community College’s partnership with Batesville High School so that students can earn associate degrees without paying tuition.