By Ken de la Bastide
Tribune enterprise editor
— Six north central Indiana counties are working to form a new regional economic development group with the intended purpose of bringing more federal dollars to the area for infrastructure improvement.
Howard, Miami, Tipton, Cass, Fulton and Clinton counties are forming the North Central Indiana Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy, which is being written by county officials, economic development organizations and businesses.
Howard County Commissioner Paul Wyman said the commissioners passed a resolution earlier this year in support of the organization.
“We’re partnering with them to bring more federal dollars into the region,” he said. “Without the regional group, it would be impossible to get the federal dollars. It is founded on using local matching dollars to get federal funds.”
Wyman said each county will provide funding for the organization, which will hire a director to oversee the efforts of the six counties.
Preliminary discussions on the funding mechanism has been based on a per capita amount for each county, but no final decision has been reached, he said.
“We have already identified a variety of projects for each county that is infrastructure related,” Wyman said.
Wyman said the efforts of the new organization would not duplicate services provided by the Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance or two other regional economic development groups.
Economic development projects in Tipton or Miami county will benefit Howard County, he said.
Mike Cline, president of the Tipton County Board of Commissioners, said they have not voted on the resolution in support of the group as of Tuesday. He said a member of the organizing group is supposed to make a presentation to the commissioners.
Cline said funding the new organization through a per capita fee is the fairest way to do it for all the counties.
“All the counties have to buy into the concept,” he said. “We all have a project list put together. This would benefit all the counties.
“You can’t work on your own,” Cline said of the changing economic development strategy. “We have to be more regional in our thinking.”
The Cass County Commissioners have already committed to making the payment for the entire county based on 77-cents capita, which amounted to $32,000.
Connie Neininger, president of the Cass County Economic Development Organization, told the Galveston Town Council on Monday that the county is a partner in the North Central Economic Development group and the Indiana Technology Corridor, which has Purdue University as the focal point.
She said foreign companies might not be familiar with where Galveston or Cass County is located, but they would be familiar with north central Indiana or the Midwest.
“We want to work on a regional basis with the surrounding counties,” Neininger said.
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