In Rural Indiana County, Economic Development is More Than Bringing in New Factories

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Economic development in rural areas means three things: attracting new businesses, retaining existing employers and home-growing entrepreneurial enterprises that will provide good jobs and contribute to the local economy. A northeast Indiana economic development group will discuss how it accomplishes these three goals at a Feb. 22 forum in Huntington, Indiana.

In rural America, there's more to promoting business growth than bringing in new factories. Retaining local employers and nurturing home-grown businesses are just as important.

"We're working hard to attract good-paying employers to our county and we have some success stories to tell," said Carol Pugh, executive director of Huntington County United Economic Development (HCUED), located in rural northeast Indiana. "But in today's business environment, the role of economic development is much broader, especially in a rural area such as ours."

"Our goal is to attract, retain and build businesses that will be valuable long-term contributors to our community," Pugh said. "Although recruiting a new employer to a community draws headlines, the great majority of all new jobs are created by the growth of existing businesses in the community. So we need to retain and build a base of employers that will provide good jobs for today's workers as well as opportunities for our young people. In addition, we want to attract employers that will support our local businesses and organizations, and positively contribute to the quality of life we enjoy here."

The full job of economic development will be discussed at HCUED's "Huntington County Means Business" forum on February 22, 2006. The featured speaker will be Jack Schultz, author of the book, Boomtown USA--the 7½ Keys to Big Success in Small Towns.

The publisher of Forbes magazine described Schultz's qualifications as follows: "The question for small town America is acute. What causes some communities to boom even as others slowly die? Jack Schultz knows the answer."

Schultz, the CEO of Agricel, a private industrial development firm in Effingham, Illinois, will describe what drives economic prosperity in rural areas and the value of nurturing local businesses. His book is the result of more than two decades of experience in small-town industrial development and three years of intensive research.

Panel discussions will outline the county's economic development strategy, current industrial projects and services from VentureWorks, HCUED's new support network for local entrepreneurs. Panelists include:

Marie-Christine Pence, Economic Development Project Manager, Cinergy/PSI

Bruce Kidd, Director of Entrepreneurship, Indiana Economic Development Corp.

Jonathan Myers, Director, NE Region, Indiana Economic Development Corp.

Mike Pogorelc, Plant Manager, Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, LLC

Kay Schwob, Director, Enterprise Resource Center, Huntington University

Karl LaPan, President and CEO, Northeast Indiana Innovation Center

Carol Pugh, Executive Director, HCUED

"Huntington County Means Business" will be from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 22, 2006, and will include continental breakfast and lunch. It will be held at the North Star Civic Center, 2824 Theater Ave., Huntington, Ind. The cost is $10 and reservations are through HCUED, 8 W. Market St., Huntington, phone 260-356-5688.

About HCUED:

The mission of Huntington County United Economic Development is to foster cooperation, education and coordination of the public and private sectors; to promote and encourage retention and expansion of existing businesses; and to support attraction of new resources for diverse economic development that will enable Huntington County to prosper as a community. Learn more about HCUED at


Carol Pugh, Executive Director

Huntington County United Economic Development


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