Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

MC Weekly

February 19, 2014

RAY MOSCOWITZ: Jim Tidd upbeat on future economic development

County's greatest challenge: elevating education, skills of its workforce.

(Continued)

Lifelong learning will become even more crucial as economic development organizations expand and provide services to more than just one county.

This trend, which Tidd favors, is already occurring, he notes. Some organizations are responsible for economic development in multiple counties in different states.

“Commerce does not restrict itself to boundary lines. Why should economic development?” he asks. “A new industry coming to Cass or Howard County, for example, benefits Miami County as well with job opportunities and opportunities for suppliers. However, I must admit that a little part of my competitive nature comes out if not everything locates in Miami County.”

Miami is part of a six-county regional economic development group called the North Central Indiana Economic Development Partnership (NCIEDP), Tidd said. It has existed for more than 25 years. Among other functions, it collaborates on marketing and performs regional studies and analysis.

Collaboration is an essential component of economic development. Take, for example, Dean Baldwin Painting, which began operating in March 2013 with one bay. It involved five funding sources (two federal, two state and one local), which is “unheard of in the ED world,” Tidd said.

Coordinating federal and state requirements involving grant agreements and other funding issues was a challenge. Another involved implementing and coordinating five separate construction contracts.

Tidd and others were mentally tough. “People going to work and large civilian aircraft landing and using the community-owned assets at Grissom kept us focused and determined,” he said.

In the wake of Baldwin, Tidd is jazzed on the “very near future.”

“I believe there are great things to happen,” he says. “I believe that a lot of the ground work that has been laid by the GRA [the former Grissom Redevelopment Authority] … will begin to pay off as we develop more and more of the airport and aviation jobs.”

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