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Economic Development Updates

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  • Wednesday, September 20, 2023 4:58 PM | Jill Ewing (Administrator)

    Devin Hillson-Smith
    Director, Integrated Site Selection – Industrial
    Cushman & Wakefield

    Having spent a decade as an economic developer before transitioning into the role of a national site selection consultant, I have had the privilege of experiencing the dynamic world of economic growth from both sides of the table. It’s important for community leaders to recognize and empower their economic development team – they are a crucial force that holds the key to a community's prosperity.

    Economic development professionals are not just administrators; they are skilled navigators in the complex waters of commerce, capable of steering a community towards greater economic prosperity. Their insights are deep-rooted in the understanding of their community's strengths, challenges, and aspirations. Their expertise goes beyond numbers and spreadsheets; they possess an innate sense of the pulse of the region, enabling them to strategically position it for success.

    As a site selector now responsible for guiding corporate clients through competitive location searches, I seek out communities where local leaders and economic developers have formed a collaborative bond. Remember this: when a company is looking to construct and open a new factory or office, there can be hundreds of millions of dollars in investment on the line. Most of my clients prioritize locations with supportive business environments and leadership that inspires trust with the long-term success of their investment. In short, corporate attraction is an exercise in risk reduction.

    Site selection and corporate attraction is, at its core, the art of matching a business with the ideal location. This process requires a delicate balance of understanding business needs and community values. An economic development team is skilled in this craft, meticulously weaving a tapestry of opportunities that benefits both new/existing businesses and the community. By giving these professionals the resources and support they need, local leadership is empowering these highly specialized professionals to create an environment for economic growth that aligns with their community's vision.

    However, economic developers often face obstacles that can impede their progress. Limited resources, limited support, and bureaucratic hurdles can stifle their ability to attract and retain investment. This is where strong local leadership can make all the difference. By allocating the necessary resources, creating available and ready sites, and showing unwavering support, they enable the economic development team to flourish and create lasting, positive change. And, yes, it’s immediately apparent to us site selectors which communities prioritize economic development, no matter how smooth the talk is.

    Having the dedication, vision, and commitment to strong economic development will shape a legacy of sustained economic vitality for generations to come. Stand by your economic development team, and, together, you can forge a brighter and more prosperous future for your community. I look forward to working with you in the future!

    The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Cushman & Wakefield.

  • Tuesday, June 20, 2023 2:37 PM | Jill Ewing (Administrator)

    The Indiana Economic Development Association Foundation (IEDAF) in partnership with the Indiana Economic Development Association (IEDA) is seeking proposals from qualified firms to complete a nationwide search to identify and document in the form of a Study any “Best Practices” for attracting talent to States, regions, and local communities resulting in increased population and workforce availability. Interested firms must demonstrate knowledge and experience in strategic planning, marketing, creativity, and innovation.


    Criteria used to evaluate communities across the US for company expansion or relocation has significantly changed over the past couple of decades. What was a very basic question of “do you have availability of land and incentives”, is now overshadowed by a more complex evaluation and determination that involves several critical issues. One of those critical issues that continues to move to the top of the evaluation list is the availability of talent and workforce to fill not only current jobs but those forecasted in the future. Indiana has implemented several key initiatives to attract talent to the State, however, more needs to be done. Through completion of this Study, the IEDAF hopes to identify, duplicate, or modify other State’s successful initiatives to attract talent with a specific section of the Study focused on initiatives, policies, and programs implemented to create affordable childcare opportunities for the workforce.

    Scope of Work for Development of the Strategy

    Working with the members of the IDEAF and the IEDA, the selected firm would.

    1. Identify specific goals, tasks, objectives for inclusion in the Study:

    a. With respect to childcare, this section of the Study would require examples of programs and policies implemented to; (1) increase the availability childcare providers through education and certification programs; (2) efforts to increase pay levels for certified providers; (3) State and local programs to reduce the overall cost of childcare to the workforce; (4) programs to encourage the consolidation of childcare providers under a central administration resulting in reduced costs to the workforce; (5) any other programs or policies to include employer cost sharing that benefits the workforce resulting in increased talent attraction.

    2. Identify existing initiatives, if known, to be further explored and included in the Study both inside or outside Indiana.

    3. For each Best Practice identified include any documentation about the initiative to include but not limited to, source of funding, annual costs, point of contact (if appropriate), etc.

    4. Establish and confirm a timeline for completion of the Study

    5. Based on the timeline, established an agreed upon number of updates on the Study’s progress.

    Consultants should feel free to add into their proposals additional measures that should be incorporated into the final Scope of Work to improve the overall process and result based on their experience and best practices.


    The IEDAF requires consultant’s proposal to include as a minimum.

    • A Statement of Qualifications specific to the objectives identified for the development of this Study
    • A proposed plan of work describing how the consultant would suggest completing the requested services
    • A proposed work schedule including timetables for completion of the Study.
    • A description of the consultant’s organization and resumes of the key staff assigned to this project
    • A proposed cost for completion of the Study

    PROPOSAL SUBMISSION: Prospective consultants should submit an electronic copy of their proposal package to Lee Lewellen, IEDA Foundation CEO at The deadline for receipt of the proposals and all related materials is July 21, 2023 at 4:30 pm (EST). Questions concerning this Request for Proposals, or its submission requirements should be directed to Lee Lewellen at 317-313-8365 or The Indiana Economic Development Association Foundation reserves the right to reject any and all proposals.

  • Friday, June 16, 2023 11:20 AM | Jill Ewing (Administrator)


    Duke Energy

    McKenzie Barbknecht

    Phone: 800.559.3853



    Lee Lewellen

    Phone: 317.313.8365


    • Funding will support organizations in Bartholomew, Carroll, Clark, Huntington and Wayne counties working to improve quality and accessibility of child care services

    PLAINFIELD, Ind. – The Duke Energy Foundation and the Indiana Economic Development Association (IEDA) Foundation today announced $115,000 in grants will be awarded to five organizations working to assess and address child care gaps in Indiana communities.

    In recent years, the cost of child care has skyrocketed, and the number of licensed child care providers has shrunk. These challenges have put a strain on working parents and their employers. In response, Duke Energy and IEDA launched a first-of-its-kind child care innovation grants program to provide financial support to communities willing to approach this issue in new and innovative ways.

    “A lack of affordable, high-quality child care can prevent parents from advancing in the workforce, hinder children’s access to structured learning at an early age, and burden employers with absenteeism and employee turnover,” said Erin Schneider, managing director of Midwest economic development for Duke Energy. “These grants will help local communities begin to confront this challenge head-on and support working parents.”

    More than 40 state and local government entities, local and regional economic development agencies, and public and private nonprofit organizations responded to Duke Energy and IEDA’s request for proposals, collectively requesting more than $1.1 million in funding.

    “High-quality child care is an investment we can’t afford to ignore,” said Lee Lewellen, IEDA’s chief executive officer. “Through this infusion of grant funds, we hope to make measurable progress toward closing the child care gap in Indiana communities – supporting children, families, child care workers, employers and the economy.”

    IEDA has convened a diverse task force of community leaders and organizations from across the state to develop policy recommendations and educate others on the impact of child care gaps in Indiana. Organizations that applied for grant funding have been invited to join this coalition to share their learnings and to guide future policies and recommendations.

    Grants were awarded to the following organizations. Quotes from each on the impact of the grants can be found here.

    • Carroll County Economic Development Corporation and the Early Learning Alliance for Carroll County – $6,000

    The Carroll County Economic Development Corporation (CCEDC) and the Early Learning Alliance for Carroll County (ELACC) will develop a network of child care providers through a series of trainings and educational opportunities for new and existing providers. These trainings will focus on babysitting basics; CPR and first aid; and professional development and licensure.

    In addition, CCEDC and ELACC intend to organize an Early Learning Expo to provide resources, networking and educational training, accreditation and certification opportunities for local child care providers. These efforts aim to increase child care capacity within the county, bridge the gap for parents and child care providers, and heighten the quality of local child care options.

    • Community Education Coalition – $39,500

    The Community Education Coalition, in partnership with Su CasaLearn by Heart and the Indiana University ServeDesign Center, will pilot a six-month coaching and business accelerator program to support the growth and development of high-quality child care programs in the Columbus area, with an emphasis on recruiting within the Latino community. The organizations will provide approximately 250 hours of direct on-site coaching, tailored to each prospective child care provider’s unique skills, education and experiences, to guide them through the licensure process.

    In addition to coaching support, the Indiana University ServeDesign Center will connect the faculty and students of the Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture + Design with current and prospective child care providers seeking to design or redesign their spaces for optimal learning and to meet licensing standards.

    • Community Foundation of Huntington County – $30,000

    The Community Foundation of Huntington County intends to stand up a Child Care Business Lab, which will serve as a platform for developing and connecting aspiring entrepreneurs with turnkey models, training support, and access to capital investment and start-up opportunities. The goal is to attract and support sustainable, high-quality child care businesses that, over time, will bridge the child care gap for working families in Huntington County.

    • Economic Development Corporation of Wayne County – $21,500

    The Economic Development Corporation (EDC) of Wayne County intends to partner with local employers to create and support a child care subsidy program to help offset the high cost of child care for the local workforce. In addition, the EDC of Wayne County intends to leverage a new digital platform to manage child care subsidies and tax credits, and connect the local workforce to child care options. Providers in the community will have the ability to register available seats in their facilities, and working parents will have the ability to search for available child care options that accommodate their schedules.

    • One Southern Indiana and Ivy Tech Sellersburg – $18,000

    One Southern Indiana and Ivy Tech Sellersburg will conduct various community meetings, surveys and focus groups with stakeholders, parents, employers and local child care providers to better understand the child care gaps in the community. The organizations will analyze the data collected and develop a comprehensive plan to improve the quality and accessibility of child care options in Southern Indiana.

    For more information about the grant program, visit

    Duke Energy Foundation

    The Duke Energy Foundation provides philanthropic support to meet the needs of communities where Duke Energy customers live and work. The Foundation contributes more than $2 million annually in charitable gifts to Indiana and is funded by Duke Energy shareholder dollars. More information about the Foundation can be found at

    Indiana Economic Development Association (IEDA)

    IEDA is the voice of economic development for Indiana. Made up of economic developers, utilities, attorneys, consultants, financial institutions, higher education professionals, engineers, architects and construction professionals, our members are passionately dedicated to attracting and retaining jobs for the great people of Indiana.


  • Tuesday, November 29, 2022 5:09 PM | Jill Ewing (Administrator)

    Indiana has made significant efforts in recent decades to diversify its economy and be resilient to economic shocks and downturns affecting specific industries.

    In the last few decades, the global economic landscape has changed dramatically. While at one time economic resiliency was driven by low taxes, cheap land and unskilled labor, the competitive advantage now goes to regions that attract and retain an abundant workforce that is trained and trainable.

    As many states now face a significant and growing labor shortage, the competitive advantage for attracting and retaining business investment is now shifting to areas that are able to grow and retain a skilled workforce. Workers now choose communities that support their desired lifestyle and quality of life in addition to choosing employment. Investment in schools, amenities, infrastructure, the arts, and general quality of life drive location decisions for workers and their families.

    Now, jobs and investment follow the workers.

    ‘Hoosier Hospitality’ is a cultural quality of our state that is being put to the test. Like many other states, Indiana is suffering from a systemic shortage of people with transferrable skills required by our employers. As our workforce ages, it is not easily being replaced. Our universities train individuals from all over the world but we are not retaining enough of them upon graduation. When leaders in Indiana make public statements that minimize individuals and seek to pass legislation which fails to embrace our differences, it undermines the concept of Hoosier Hospitality.

  • Monday, January 10, 2022 3:27 PM | Jill Ewing (Administrator)

    As Indiana embraces the post-pandemic economic rebound, resilience is strengthened, and the pendulum is swinging in the right direction. The economy is back to pre-pandemic levels with pent-up consumer demand, new strategies for supply chains, and modernization that are now permanent extensions to new business models and cultures.

    Economic developers stand at the hub of local efforts to grow their communities through business and workforce attraction, retaining and adding jobs, expanding the tax base, and working to reduce barriers to growth. At this time, economic development is more important than ever as we adjust to disruptive change and embrace emerging new opportunities.

    The Indiana Economic Development Association members pledge to work alongside Indiana’s elected officials as partners to restore vibrancy and momentum to the Hoosier economy.

  • Friday, June 18, 2021 10:58 AM | Jill Ewing (Administrator)

    In March and April 2020 the Community Recovery Coalition formed. This is an ad hoc group of statewide associations representing various community stakeholders.

    The group formed to develop strategies and tools to assist communities facing hardships brought on by the COVID 19 pandemic. The concern then was that loss of financial resources would hamper local institutions, families, and local governments.

    Now, over a year later, the concern is almost diametrically opposite: The flow of funds from various sources have put communities in a position where they have an abundance of financial resources.

    The Community Recovery Coalition just released a joint statement urging local leaders to adopt a strategic and thoughtful approach to the use of recovery funds available to them, targeting the dollars toward long-term, transformational opportunities.

  • Monday, May 17, 2021 12:28 PM | Jill Ewing (Administrator)
  • Wednesday, April 29, 2020 1:53 PM | Jill Ewing (Administrator)

    Indiana launched into 2020 with the unemployment rate in many communities hovering at near record‐level lows of 2 – 3%. A major concern in many communities was the lack of workers to fill current jobs. In response, economic developers shifted from attracting businesses to attracting workers.

    It is impossible to calculate how drastic the change has been in four short months. Economists project that unemployment rates will hit double‐digit levels, perhaps approaching rates not seen since the Great Depression. Over 26M American jobs have been lost effectively cancelling all job gains since the Great Recession. Local stakeholders fear that much of the progress they have made in the last few years to grow local business, enhance downtown development, and increase the tax base will be threatened as revenues from various taxing sources will see shortfalls.

    In flush times and lean, the practice of economic development is focused on attracting, expanding, and retaining investment in communities. Prior to the coronavirus crisis, economic developers were diversifying their services by working with local businesses to help fill open jobs with qualified workers, collaborating with chambers of commerce and tourism bureaus to promote community assets to attract new residents and workers to their communities, and working to support local entrepreneurs in starting and growing their businesses. The evolution of economic development extended to downtown development because vibrant downtowns are key to attracting and retaining talent.

    Fostering single‐family and multi‐family housing stock became a priority for talent attraction. This effort to develop workforce housing led to community‐wide collaborations between economic developers, elected officials, and housing developers, who came together to solve unique housing challenges in communities across the state. Many economic developers have focused on expanding childcare solutions, as well: high quality and affordable childcare contribute to our quality of life and workforce engagement.

    The work of economic developers is constantly evolving because they are reacting to the unique needs of their communities. What works in one region or county may not work in another, so our connections across the state allow for sharing best practices and the ability to bring new ideas back to our communities that are tailored to local and regional needs.

    As we emerge from the current crisis, communities will be faced with many displaced workers and closed or struggling businesses. Local economic development organizations will be the natural leaders helping our state recover because they know the local businesses, understand their workforce needs, and are experts in attracting and retaining tax base: all critical activities in helping communities claw back from the coronavirus crisis.

    At last count at least 21 Indiana‐based economic development organizations have played a role in the creation of local disaster relief loan or grant programs to help local small businesses survive during the stay‐at‐home order. This is another example of their understanding of local business needs and their ability to adjust their priorities to respond to the needs of their communities.

    In the last few years, economic developers have become more focused on supporting entrepreneurship, encouraging the creation and growth of home‐grown businesses, exactly the kind of support and expertise that will be needed to revitalize our downtowns post‐coronavirus crisis.

    Economic development professionals have developed national networks of business contacts that they work with when companies want to expand or relocate. These networks can help bring suppliers to a community to support existing companies. While supporting our existing businesses will be the first priority, the attraction of new companies to the state will be an area of focus as we move to fully recover lost jobs and tax base.

    As we look toward the future of Indiana, we should all find comfort in knowing that economic developers are on the front lines and are ready to evolve again to move their communities out of crisis and into recovery.

    Lee Lewellen
    Indiana Economic Development Association

  • Thursday, October 31, 2019 2:35 PM | Jill Ewing (Administrator)


    New ag-based strategy offers different approach to growing rural Indiana

    First-of-their-kind “Ag Asset” maps will help communities leverage agriculture

    INDIANAPOLIS (Oct. 28, 2019) — A new strategy is working to change how rural communities think about economic development by helping them leverage the strongest asset in their backyard – agriculture.

    Known as the Rural Economic Development Model, the process involves utilizing an online interactive tool and guidebook to develop an ag-based economic development plan which will expand current agribusinesses and attract complimentary processing companies to the region.

    “Oftentimes, we see rural communities targeting an automotive plant or medical device manufacturer—overlooking agriculture completely,” said Bruce Kettler, Indiana State Department of Agriculture Director. “We want to encourage local decision makers to think differently of their economic development strategy. Agriculture is at the core of so many Hoosier communities and, if leveraged properly, has the potential to keep growing or, in some cases, reinvigorate rural Indiana.”

    Critical to the strategy’s launch was the development of the Indiana Ag Asset Maps, which can be found on the Rural Indiana Stats website, created and managed by the Purdue Center for Regional Development. These first-of-their-kind heat maps provide information about the agricultural products grown and raised in each county to include fruits, vegetables, grains, and livestock, and a section showcasing the various companies supporting the hardwoods industry in Indiana.

    Communities can use this information to build an ag-based economic development strategy or grow value-added processing by creating “agriculture regions.”

    “Bringing value-added processing to an area benefits more than just producers, it shores up the local economy and entire agricultural ecosystem,” said Dr. Bo Beaulieu, PCRD Director. “It can be a game-changer and opens the door to new possibilities for rural communities, which continue to struggle with attracting young, talented workers.”

    The Rural Economic Development Model was developed in collaboration with the Indiana Corn Marketing Council, Indiana Economic Development Association, Indiana Farm Bureau, Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, Indiana Soybean Alliance, Indiana State Department of Agriculture, and Purdue Center for Regional Development.

    Communities interested in agriculture as an important component of their economic development strategy should contact the project partners. Together they will facilitate a conversation with an overview of the Rural Economic Development Model and a review of the regional analysis provided by PCRD. The goal is to help rural communities create fully implementable ag strategies.

    “For too long, we have looked at Indiana’s agricultural production as a passive asset: grown here, but sent elsewhere for value-added processing,” said Lee Lewellen, Indiana Economic Development Association President and CEO. “We want economic developers and farmers to come together to see Indiana’s robust ag assets as the raw material for a different kind of manufacturing base in rural communities.”

    Click here to view the Indiana ag asset maps.


    The Indiana Economic Development Association (IEDA) is the voice and advocate for the economic development profession in Indiana. IEDA defines economic development as the facilitation of investment that leads to long term community prosperity.

    The Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) was established as a separate state agency by the Legislature in 2005. Administratively, ISDA reports to Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch, who also serves as Indiana’s Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development. Major responsibilities include advocacy for Indiana agriculture at the local, state and federal level, managing soil conservation programs, promoting economic development and agricultural innovation, serving as a regulatory ombudsman for agricultural businesses, and licensing grain firms throughout the state.

    The Purdue Center for Regional Development (PCRD) seeks to pioneer new ideas and strategies that contribute to regional collaboration, innovation and prosperity.

    Note: Below is a photo of the Indiana ag asset map for tomatoes.

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