Past presidents of Montgomery County Economic Development took the opportunity Tuesday to share their views on the local agency before Tuesday’s Montgomery County Council meeting.
The 40-minute presentation was an attempt to answer questions from several residents on the success of MCED since its inception.
Steve Loy, a current board member and past president, was the first to speak. He outlined how the organization got started and its original mission.
He said the original mission of MCED was to retain businesses; recruit businesses and employees; develop SkillsNet; and foster community awareness. The development of SkillsNet provided an Ivy Tech education to area residents. He also said that a school-to-career program at the high school level was developed.
Over the past 15 years, 79 local business representatives and officials have volunteered their time to be a part of the MCED board — something Loy said is fundamental to running MCED.
“You have to look at volunteers and what they do, that’s how we get stuff done,” he said.
Several other past presidents stressed the importance of having volunteers as part of the board to represent the community.
The second president was Steve Kaiser served as the second president. Sen. Phil Boots was the third, and also took the opportunity to speak.
Boots said there are 15,000 economic development organizations throughout the world all vying for the same thing — new business.
“Whenever an opportunity comes up businesses are always looking at other places,” Boots said. “You have to be ready when people come to you. Businesses want to come to communities where they are wanted. It takes a community to promote themselves.”
Boots and past president Monte Harris pointed to RR Donnelley’s expansion several years ago, the Nucor Corridor and Nucor expansions as positives that have come from MCED.
“I believe in MCED, someone has to respond to these questions that are coming in,” Boots said.
Harris said the Donnelley expansion wasn’t an easy because it didn’t involve any new jobs. It only involved the upgrade of equipment at the south facility.
“Had we not retained that investment I don’t know what type of Donnelley plant we would have today,” Harris said.
Morris Mills said the new Ivy Tech campus is an important part of economic development here in the county. He thanked the council for its support, but told them he believed they should have given more.
“I think in four or five years they will be looking to expand,” Mills said. “You have to be out in front.”
Harris and Boots said companies looking to relocate to an area are looking for large chunks of property or buildings that are already built. Something that isn’t available in Montgomery County.
They said the council may want to look at that in the future when it comes to attracting new business.
“It would be difficult for MCED to do more than what they are without the support of the county,” Harris said.
The county council has approved $75,000 for MCED in 2013.
Councilman Brian Keim thanked the past presidents for their time.
“Hopefully the presentation answered some of the questions people have been having,” Keim said.