Long-term plan outlines action towards creating sustainable business environment

Economic Development Corporation Michigan City, Indiana (EDCMC) finalized a long-term strategic initiative highlighting action items towards creating a local sustainable business environment.

EDCMC announced the organization was embarking upon a process to develop a comprehensive strategic initiative in April 2013. Since then, EDCMC outlined a step-by-step plan of action towards a healthier and more competitive marketplace in Michigan City.

EDCMC commissioned Dean Uminski, a local resident, of Crowe Horwath LLP — one of the largest public accounting and consulting firms in the nation. Crowe Horwath maintains local offices throughout Northern Indiana and the Chicagoland area. The strategic initiative is primarily funded by EDCMC.

EDCMC Executive Director Clarence Hulse said, “Michigan City has many great assets. We have identified those assets and are using them to promote the city. We’re promoting our city’s downtown and proximity to Chicago to attract more business and to create more high quality jobs. This is a blueprint to follow to move Michigan City forward and improve the quality of life for residents.”

The strategic initiative with action items are the result of a 10-month study through collaborative taskforce committee meetings. EDCMC initiated the innovative process, which brought together stakeholders to form the five taskforce committees. Each team consisted of approximately 10 to 25 business, civic, educational and community leaders.

The EDCMC Board of Directors unanimously adopted the following economic development opportunities at a meeting April 11:

  1. Workforce Development & Education – align workforce development and education with existing, targeted industry needs
    • Established state’s first Career Connections construction/carpentry program, offering La Porte County high school students hands-on training for dual credit and direct entry into an apprenticeship program with partner A.K. Smith Career Center and local business leaders in November 2013
    • Collaborating with Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana to develop and implement a trade and logistics program for Michigan City
    • Energy Academy Partnership between NIPSCO and the La Porte Co. Career & Tech Education to prepare area students for high-demand jobs in the electronics, energy and utility industries
  2. Business Retention & Expansion (BR&E) – ensure local businesses receive necessary support and attention to needs/issues to compete in global marketplace
    • Renewing Urban Enterprise Zone to stimulate local community and business redevelopment in distressed areas through eligible tax benefits
    • Reviewing existing abatement policy for deductions on improvements to property or equipment
    • Enhanced BR&E survey visits to gain understanding of business community’s needs
  3. Business Attraction & Development – attract and develop prospects compatible with local business environment and long-term strategy; partner with regional organizations with strategic plans aligned with EDCMC goals for business attraction and development
    • Relocated and recruited Calumet Pallet Co. Inc. to Michigan City throughout fall 2013
    • Relocated D. Martin Enterprises manufacturing to Michigan City from Chicago Heights, Ill.
    • Planning future industrial/business parks
  4. Integration with Community Development – implement and execute seamless strategies and programs with both economic development and community development driving systemic change
    • Working with community partners to coordinate solutions for the people who are homeless in La Porte County
    • Exploring housing options for seniors, workforce, etc.
    • Recommended the implementation of a community branding initiative
  5. Organizational Sustainability – ensure long-term sustainability by effectively maximizing engagement of EDCMC Board of Directors, staff, investors, city officials and community stakeholders
    • Initiating Circle of Investors Capital Campaign to support EDCMC efforts
    • Adopting policies to engage and educate board, staff and community about EDCMC vision and objectives

Many of the initiative’s action items have already been completed or are currently in the process of being implemented. Execution of the plan will take place over the next five years.

“This strategic initiative is community-driven and the result of a lot of hard work by various individuals and groups,” Chuck Compton, EDCMC Board chairman, said. “This is a plan that will not be sitting on the shelf. It was developed with an impetus for action. On behalf of the EDCMC Board of Directors, I want to thank all of our community stakeholders who generously gave their time and talents to this important project.”

EDCMC is an independent not-for-profit corporation, separate from the City of Michigan City. The EDCMC’s strategic initiative remains its own effort, working in conjunction with various city and community leaders.

Mayor Ron Meer said, “As we continue to move forward with this long-term strategic initiative, establishing an atmosphere of learning and an environment of job creation and job growth will be of the upmost importance. There is a strong cooperation between the Economic Development Corporation Michigan City, Indiana and the Greater La Porte Economic Development Corporation to improve job opportunities in La Porte County. A major component of this alliance is the workforce development and education partnerships that are being formed between our local high schools, colleges and existing businesses and manufacturers. Preparing and training our citizens, especially our young people, will be the foundation on which a stronger Michigan City will be built.”

For more information, call EDCMC at (219) 873-1211. All members of the public are invited to learn more about the strategic initiative and action items first-hand at the Council Workshop of the Michigan City Common Council Tuesday, April 29 at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall in the Emergency Operations Room, located at 100 E. Michigan Blvd. in Michigan City.