By Jarred Meeks
The Boone County Economic Development Corp. recently released its 2019 annual report at its annual luncheon, highlighting the economic growth it has sparked in the county.
The corporation closed seven deals last year, resulting in $113 million in capital investment and a $5.3 million tax impact. It also received 169 leads in 2019, a 17 percent increase from the previous year, and 60 existing company visits, according to the report.
The corporation is tasked with seeking economic opportunities to support Boone County and create partnerships that improve the lives of its residents.
Molly Whitehead, executive director of the corporation, said at the corporation’s annual luncheon on Jan. 22 that the companies the corporation closed deals with anticipate hiring 336 workers.
The corporation’s microloan program awarded $27,000 in 2019 to small businesses seeking funding and has awarded $170,000 since 2010.
In fall 2019, the corporation create WorkInBoone.com, a website workforce initiative dedicated to connecting inquiring job candidates with hiring companies in Boone County. The site has attracted 116 companies in the county and an average of 1,200 visitors a month.
In 2020, the corporation hopes to attract 65 existing companies for visits, as well as attract and retain local talent through worker training opportunities, two job fairs, human resources roundtables and co-facilitating Boone County Workforce Alliance, a community grouping of businesses and community leaders dedicated to strengthening the local workforce.
But the luncheon’s keynote speaker, Scott Hutcheson, an author and associate director at the Purdue University Agile Strategy Lab, said Boone County must take more economic development steps in the near future to prevent stagnation.
Hutcheson, a Boone County resident, said the county must embrace change. He said businesses and firms don’t’ have the same longevity that they once did and that industries the county has historically relied on, such as warehouse distribution, will not be guaranteed to prosper for more than a generation.
“You’ve heard change is the new normal? Well it is,” Hutcheson said. “The time is now to move to what is next. We should be taking a moderate amount of risk.”