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)

Recent and future improvements made to U.S. 31 and U.S. 24 give Miami County a great advantage for the accessibility needed by manufacturers and warehousing and distribution companies, Tidd said.

He is upbeat about development on Peru’s northern fringe. He thinks growth will begin soon with retail and other commercial and light industrial activity.

Asked what Miami County’s five best selling points are, Tidd listed highway accessibility, available land, a regional workforce in excess of 300,000 (which still has to work on skills), low operating costs, and unique incentives. The latter includes no sales tax on all utilities for five years and a lower than normal rate for the Corporate Adjusted Gross Income Tax.

Those selling points are in tune with what Area Development Magazine just reported in an annual survey of corporate executives asked to rank their top 10 factors in considering an expansion or relocation. Their top five in order of importance are labor costs; highway access, 5 minutes to 55 mph; skilled labor availability; availability of advanced ICT services (Information and Communications Technology); and building inventory (costs of a new building vs. renovating an existing building).

“I would also add factors like community amenities and how the company pictures its growth and sustainability opportunities in the community,” Tidd said. “As you can see, economic development has moved over the years from, ‘Do you have a building or land to meet the requirements and how many incentives do you have?’ to the full evaluation of an entire community or region.

“Now the primary role of an economic development organization is to make the community or region as competitive as possible using the factors listed. However, the ED organization does not control or have influence on a lot of the factors, which creates challenges and opportunities alike.”

Some of those challenges and opportunities have led to successes in Miami County achieved by the former GRA and the former Peru-Miami Economic Development Corp. (P-MCEDC) before they merged into the MCEDA.

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