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Business growing internally in Marshall County

April 20, 2011

PLYMOUTH — While the picture is not a rosy one, it isn’t dark either as Marshall County continues to enjoy the positive feeling of economic comeback after one of the worst economic downturns in recent history.
One part of the good news is that economic hardships that battered other communities didn’t hit Marshall County businesses quite as hard.
“We seem to have come through the storms pretty well,” said Jennifer Laurent, director of the Marshall County Economic Development Corporation, re-porting to the Marshall County Commissioners for the first time in her tenure on the job. “There are some benefits to being part of a conservative (business) community that is willing to take certain risks but is also willing to put profits back into their business and making sure that their workers have someplace to show up for work every day.”
Laurent pointed to businesses that have been the backbone of the local economy — such as Zentis, ITAMCO, Del Monte and Hoosier Tire to name a few — that have expanded internally and been consistently hiring new employees.
Laurent attributed the success of local companies to their ability to adapt and to a change in local philosophy as pertains to economic growth.
“We’ve moved away from the smokestack mentality,” said Laurent. “What good does it do the community to bring in a factory with perhaps 100 new jobs today while times are good, and have those jobs move on overseas or elsewhere when the local incentives run out? The approach has been to do things that create and keep jobs here well into the future.”
Laurent pointed out that many success stories in the county have “…gone under the radar…” and not received a lot of attention in media sources. She said that much of the reason is that the growth has been in smaller numbers than normally make headlines.
She also pointed to partnerships between local businesses and local units of government that are helpful and provide encouragement to business in the county. She stated that in many regions that is not the case.
Laurent pointed out several areas where her office continues to address that the county has not been in as good a position to compete with others. Work continues on registering “shovel ready” land with the state of Indiana so sites can be presented to businesses looking for land to locate on.
“We can’t compete in sites that are already developed,” said Laurent. “Most of our inquiries are for buildings of 1,000 square feet or more and we just don’t have that but we do have land available.”
She also hopes to “ramp up” the county web presence and continue working on infrastructure projects such as the Metronet saying the priority to bring that fiber optic option to the county will “…continue to be a priority until it’s completed.”
She also pointed to an MCEDC program to encourage local business regardless of their size or length of time in business. Business counseling through the office also supplies useful data that can be helpful in growing business free of charge to those who wish it.

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