BROOKVILLE – Trevor Lane wasn’t bragging, just stating a fact. When it comes to economic development, “I understand what works best.” The Indiana Economic Development Corp. Southeast Indiana regional director covers 19 counties, from Louisville up to Union County, he told the three Franklin County Economic Development Corp. members Oct. 29 – President Bill Schirmer, Brookville; Mike Martino, Brookville; and Robert Braun, St. Marys, the newest addition.
“Communities have to plan,” he reported. “If a company comes in tomorrow, do we have a plan?” It could involve a potential tax abatement or constructing a spec building.
The director recommended that FCEDC fund a strategic plan. “It’s kind of like a business plan for a company .... Let somebody from the outside come in and evaluate your community.” He wondered if the Lawrenceburg Regional Economic Grant Program would pay for all or half of a plan’s cost. The plan would explore what infrastructure improvements are needed to lure businesses and also “where do we want to be in 10 years?” Having a specific, in-depth plan could help the county apply with future Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs grants, Lane pointed out.
Schirmer reflected that people come to Franklin County for the “lake, scenery, hillside, Metamora ... Oldenburg.” He maintained leaders have to capitalize on that. He asked which was a better way to grow the local economy, tourism or economic development? Lane said IEDC doesn’t get involved with assisting service industries, such as hotels. Manufacturers are what the organization likes to attract. “If it’s a huge call center, inbound, for instance, or a financial institution or health insurance, we would look at it.”
The FCEDC president believed, “Tourism needs to be focused on. Manufacturing … needs to be a side show.” According to Lane, “A big part of Madison’s economic development, which we don’t incentivize, is their downtown. You have that same opportunity over here” with the area’s country charm. “How do you get to where you want to be? That’s up to your local leadership.”