MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. – Economic Development Corporation Michigan City, Indiana continues to make significant developments towards creating a sustainable business environment with the formation of new strategic goals through collaborative taskforce committees.
EDCMC announced the organization was embarking upon a process to develop a comprehensive and innovative, long-term action initiative this past April. Since then, EDCMC has identified several key economic development opportunities locally. Through monthly taskforce committee meetings, which have been held with area partners throughout the summer, a step-by-step plan of action towards a healthier and more competitive marketplace in Michigan City is becoming more and more attainable.
“As an economic development organization, we cannot create jobs alone, but instead it is our duty to help create an environment where opportunities can thrive,” EDCMC Board Chairman Chuck Compton said.
Several months ago, EDCMC developed five taskforce committees with the following goals to fuel the process forward:
- Workforce Development & Education – align workforce development and education with existing and targeted industry needs
- Business Retention & Expansion – ensure that local businesses receive the necessary support and attention with their needs/issues to compete in the global marketplace
- Business Attraction & Development – attract and develop prospects that are compatible with the local business environment and long-term strategy; partner with regional organizations with strategic plans that align with EDCMC goals for business attraction and development
- Integration with Community Development – implement and execute seamless strategies and programs with both economic development and community development to drive systemic change
- Organizational Sustainability – ensure long-term sustainability by effectively maximizing the engagement of EDCMC Board of Directors, staff, investors, city officials and community stakeholders
Each taskforce committee is comprised of approximately 10 to 25 business, civic, education and community leaders. At regularly scheduled meetings, teams openly discuss problematic issues within the community and brainstorm solutions with action items already in place.
The Workforce Development & Education committee team members, for example, discussed the strengths of Michigan City’s employers — engaging youth nonprofit organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club and a strong welding program already in place. In addition, Michigan City benefits from a “brain gain,” or local graduates remaining in the area at a higher rate than the national average.
Committee members also identified a few inefficiencies with the local workforce, including: a lack of parental involvement in some student segments, gap between business needs and skill sets of employers, and lack of basic skills in youth (timeliness and professionalism, remaining drug free as well as proper communication and attire).
Dean Uminski of Crowe Horwath — the consulting firm EDCMC commissioned as a partner — said dialogue at each taskforce committee meeting has been informative, open and productive. “As a local resident, it is very gratifying for me to see so many stakeholders participating to help Michigan City remain competitive in the global marketplace,” he said.
For Audra Peterson, a member of the Workforce Development & Education taskforce committee as well as Career & Tech Ed Director of the A.K. Smith Career Center, she has been extremely pleased with the progress of the committee thus far.
“This committee wants to make a change and wants to make a difference. From an educational standpoint, I feel that our voices are being heard and we are obviously listening to the business and industrial community in return,” she said. “We are making some positive changes and moving forward towards connecting the dots.”
Peterson added, “There are a lot of committees that people in the community get involved in to make a difference, but this one is different. The wheels are spinning and we are actually getting somewhere with it. It’s been a fantastic committee to work with. The key is that all parties are listening and all parties are now taking action.”
EDCMC plans to continue to update the public and stakeholders within the next several weeks on successes of each individual taskforce.
Compton said, “We are still working towards fine-tuning our course of action towards furthering economic development. However, never before have this many leaders come together to identify solutions to our community’s weaknesses. We are definitely on the cusp of some very significant accomplishments.”