Two long-time decision-makers and founding members of the South Central Indiana Economic Development Group were invited to share an overview of the group’s history, purpose and activities with local business leaders and economic development investors during a One Southern Indiana (1si) event on March 10 in Jeffersonville, Ind.
Darrell Voelker, the group’s current president, and Jim Plump, the group’s founding president, spoke to approximately 40 business owners, bankers, accountants and other thought leaders during the luncheon at the First Savings Bank office in Clark County. Darrell is the executive director of the Harrison County Economic Development Corporation, based in Corydon, Ind., and Jim is the executive director of the Jackson County Industrial Development Corporation based in Seymour, Ind.
Wendy Dant Chesser, 1si president and CEO, and Matt Hall, 1si executive vice president, asked Darrell and Jim to share with the group the importance of working together in a consistent, collaborative, regional manner – a process that has helped bring about a string of successes for the South Central Indiana region over a number of years.
In response to a question about how the counties manage competing against each other for projects when they travel together and share some expenses as a region, Darrell and Jim explained they want and need to work together to attract attention to their area of the United States, a challenge when they are in another country where business owners and consultants may have only vague knowledge about the U.S., apart from knowing where New York City and Los Angeles lie.
“We can fight it out amongst ourselves once we get the companies and consultants here to Indiana and to South Central Indiana, in particular,” said Jim, “but first we have to work together to get their attention. Coming together and selling our product as a region helps educate and inform business executives and consultants about a part of the U.S. they likely know very little, if anything, about.”
“Working together helps each of us reach our over-arching goals,” said Darrell, “We are competitors, but we’re friendly competitors. We have a high degree of trust and respect in each other, and I believe that shows when we’re traveling together to promote South Central Indiana, whether we’re at a conference here in this country or at a show outside the U.S.”
“It’s important for those who support economic development, but don’t work directly in this arena, to hear the benefits of marketing through regional collaboration,” said Matt. “This was a good opportunity for folks to have a peak behind the curtain and learn how we take the South Central Indiana ‘message’ on the road and pitch our region to attract investment and jobs. The customer doesn’t always come to us. Sometimes we have to go to them.”