To the editor:

The International Economic Development Council has declared May 9 to 13 as “Economic Development Week.” This is a good opportunity to share information about your local economic development organization, Jay County Development Corporation (JCDC).

Our story reaches back to a global recession in the late 1970s and early ’80s that left many communities in the Midwest suffering from a loss of manufacturing jobs. Locally, the closure of Sheller-Globe cost approximately 1,000 jobs. In response, JCDC was formed to lead the effort to attract new companies and jobs. The organization was, and continues to be, funded primarily through revenue from the economic development income tax (EDIT) — a tax authorized by the state specifically to fund organizations like ours and other economic development projects. In the early days, the organization’s focus was centered on creating industrial parks and attracting new industries. These efforts helped lead to the opening of several new-to-us industries like Jaytec (FCC) and JCI (MSSL Wiring Systems). The intent was to encourage industrial investment and create jobs to drive up local tax revenues and provide residents with the means to support themselves.

As time passed it became apparent that there was a reciprocal relationship between industrial recruitment and many other pressing community needs. So, in 2000 the community development position was created with the goal of helping to build community resources and bringing state and federal funds into our community through grant work. The roles of economic and community development go hand-in-hand with each serving the other. To put it directly — companies want to locate where they can find a workforce and people want to live where they can enjoy life and find reliable work.

This is where JCDC comes in. Our mission is “to enhance the quality of life in Jay County by assisting in the creation, retention, and reinvestment of wealth and increasing the number and quality of employment opportunities.” In short, we are here to facilitate investment and job creation. We do this through several activities including industrial retention and recruitment; applying for and managing grants; assisting with the execution of EDIT spending; supporting long term community planning; connecting businesses with resources ranging from incentives and loans to training opportunities and business advisors; and advising local elected officials on a variety of topics. To sum it up, we do whatever is necessary to facilitate investment, job creation and long-term community viability.

Two of our big efforts this year are intertwined:

1) working towards a strategic planning effort through the Hoosier Enduring Legacy Program (HELP)

2) the launch of a new county-wide marketing effort called Jay Region (learn more at jayregion.com)

A postcard with a painting all about Jay on the cover went out to all county households in April. This was meant to inform everyone about the HELP initiative, but also directed them to the new website that has a page dedicated to HELP. From this page, residents can learn more about the program, volunteer to be on a pathway committee or suggest ideas and projects. Please check it out and while there subscribe for ongoing updates or follow the social media pages.

As indicated, the launch of the new site was coordinated with the HELP initiative, but they serve distinct purposes. The overall site is intended as a marketing tool that provides a “go-to” source of information for residents, tourists, businesses and potential newcomers — essentially marketing Jay County to ourselves and the outside world. It serves as a landing page with links to many other Jay County websites. Visit the site if you’re looking for a job, a place to volunteer, contact information for your local government or something to do on Friday night. The intent of this effort is to reach a broader audience than we have in the past. There can be no doubt that strong communities need a strong online presence in the 21st century.

In summary, JCDC’s work is integral to the long-term success of Jay County. We appreciate the cooperation we get from across the county and intend to continue serving for many years to come.

Happy Economic Development Week.

Sincerely,

Travis Richards

Executive director

Jay County Development Corporation