PLYMOUTH — What action steps should Marshall County take to compete in a global economy?
This was the main question discussed at the Community Conversation on Economic Development held at Swan Lake Wednesday.
Sponsored by the Marshall County Community Foundation with the assistance of the Indiana Humanities Council and the Bow-en Center for Public Affairs, this all-day event brought together 129 leaders from local business, community and government to brainstorm on how to make Marshall County more competitive in a global economy. Also making an appearance were former Governor and Mrs. Otis Bowen.
The keynote speaker was Richard Longworth, a Senior Fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. He also authored the book, “Caught in the Middle: America’s Heartland in the Age of Globalism.” Longworth spoke with insight and clarity on the negative impact that globalism has had on the Midwest and the steps that can be taken to compete and succeed in a global economy. Two areas he keyed in on were innovation — all communities and businesses not just relying on past successes to survive but creating new technologies and marketing strategies as avenues for continued success; and regional mentality. He said that the Midwest is often “crippled by traditional rivalries” wasting time and energy on mindless competition within local communities. The competition is now international. Longworth said we need to start “thinking across state lines, we need to share economies to share a future.”
Along with Longworth, speakers from around the region participated, all with different areas of expertise. Opportunities were made for attendees to participate in community brainstorming and interaction through breakout sessions and panels. The panel discussed the many opportunities that Marshall County has to regionalize, by sharing ideas and resources with neighboring counties.
Breakout sessions had each table tackling questions about developing an innovative economy and steps that can be taken to make global and regional connections, as well as the benefits and risks for our communities.
Keira Amstutz, president and CEO of the Indiana Humanities Council said that Marshall County was one of eight sites chosen for this community conversation from a pool of 18 applications.
When asked what she felt were the strengths of Marshall County she said it’s the energy, focus and can-do attitude of the business and civic leaders.
She noted how the not-for-profits and business leaders already work together to improve the quality of life in Marshall County.
When asked how she felt about the turnout, Diane Thalmann, manager of Economic Development for NIPSCO said, “It was excellent.”
At the end of the event attendees left excited and motivated to work together to move Marshall County into a better future.
As one attendee said, “Creating new technologies creates new jobs and I’m all for that.”