March 30, 2014

CLEDO CHAT: What goes into economic development?

by John Hipskind Guest columnist

---- — CLEDO has gone through a number of changes over the years, and more recently reorganized from LEDF (Logansport Cass Economic Development Foundation) to CLEDO (Cass Logansport Economic Development Organization), and within the past six months to CLEDO (City of Logansport Economic Development Organization.) Our funding is a combination of city CEDIT, or County Economic Development Income Tax, funding and individual member donors, companies and supporters in our region.

CLEDO has three stated organizational goals of business retention; business growth; and business attraction. Business retention is focused on doing what we can within our bylaw limits, funds, and potential grants within the area to support our existing businesses. Business growth relates to those existing businesses and working on infrastructure and training and tax abatement programs that make Logansport attractive for additional investment. And business attraction relates to locating new businesses with confidence in our local amenities and facilities to entice companies to consider and then locate here.

Economic development is the concerted and sustained actions of policymakers and communities that promote a standard of living and economic health of an area. Included in that description are human capital, critical infrastructure, regional competitiveness, environmental sustainability, social inclusion, health, safety, literacy, diversity and other initiatives. Without economic development, the process of economic growth is not easy to achieve. Keys to both are skilled workers, relationships with Ivy Tech, the Career Center, Indiana University-Kokomo and WorkOne. Advancing Manufacturing, the Certified Production Technician program and other initiatives like IMMT are critical for workforce development.

For business attraction to occur, several things must be in place. Included in that list are an inventory of buildings and facilities; acreage in a service area (industrial park), and often rail access is a plus; other locations with access to all utilities; housing or living options to attract outside companies; office space for non-manufacturing groups; and other services and support business nearby. Other less well identified amenities are health access, trails and quality of life options.

Areas of concern for business attraction to an area are vacant/abandoned buildings, limited housing, lack of medical care, lack of skilled workers and limited shopping and recreational opportunities. Recognizing what attracts companies and organizations, CLEDO supports infrastructure improvements, recreational activities, housing initiatives, “blight” property projects, initiatives to support Brownfield property cleanup and efforts to improve quality of life and sustainability for Logansport and Cass County.

To understand all of the efforts for local improvements, CLEDO is an active participant in Better Health of Cass County, United Way, Cass County Resource Network, the Employment Task Force of CCRN, Chamber of Commerce, France Park Access/Panhandle Trail Group, and two regional economic development groups — Indiana’s Technology Corridor and North Central Indiana Economic Development Partnership.

John Hipskind is president of the City of Logansport Economic Development Organization. He can be reached at 574-722-5988.