Columbus, IN (Feb. 17, 2016) — Mayor Jim Lienhoop has announced plans to make available $150,000 each year for three years to enhance economic development services provided by the Greater Columbus Economic Development Corporation, also known as the Columbus Economic Development Board (EDB). Previously, the City contributed $14,000 per year to the local non-profit economic development organization. In making the announcement, Lienhoop noted that the additional funding will directly support new business recruitment, business expansion, and talent attraction efforts.
“Working with the Economic Development Board on a public-private partnership such as this will result in a more diversified local economy and improved economic opportunity for our residents,” said Lienhoop. “If we were to do this on our own, we’d have to grow local government. I’d rather spend those dollars directly on proven efforts.”
According to Jason Hester, executive director of the Economic Development Board, the additional $136,000 each year will be dedicated to new and expanded efforts called for in the organization’s strategic plan.
“We are exceptionally pleased to partner with the City of Columbus on this effort, and for every dollar the City puts in, our private sector members will have already matched the funds 2 to 1,” said Hester. “None of the City’s increased funds will cover overhead or salaries, but instead 100% of the new support will go toward promoting and marketing the advantages of living, working, and doing business in Columbus and Bartholomew County, Indiana.”
Examples of the organization’s planned use of funds include attending trade shows to meet with businesses within targeted industries, sponsoring site selection events, and continuing annual trips to Japan, Germany, and China in pursuit of job-creating investment. The organization is also dedicating efforts to support the needs of existing businesses, including the launch of a new talent attraction campaign.
“With the unemployment rate dropping below 4%, there is high demand for talented individuals to fill a broad array of occupations,” said Hester. “We look forward to partnering with local companies and other non-profit partners to develop and launch an innovative community-based talent attraction campaign.”
Despite currently low unemployment levels, both the mayor and Hester point to the need to accelerate business recruitment efforts in order to diversify the local economic base.
“Our local economy is very dependent on the automotive industry, and when sales are up nationally, many of our local employers are very busy,” said Lienhoop. “But what goes up, typically comes down, so we are reallocating existing funds to advance the EDB’s pursuit of companies from different sectors.”
The City’s support will come from its share of the Economic Development Income Tax (EDIT) fund, which annually generates approximately $2.9 million for the City and an additional $1.9 million for Bartholomew County government. $150,000 represents just over 5% of the City’s share, leaving the majority of local EDIT funds for other important initiatives, says Lienhoop. Bartholomew County also contracts with EDB for economic development services in an amount of $14,000 annually, bringing total government support to $164,000.
“The balance of our funding comes from the generosity of the local business community,” said Hester. “We are tremendously grateful for our board members and supporters, and the City’s added support over these next three years will propel our economic development efforts to the next level.”
About the Columbus Economic Development Board
The Greater Columbus Economic Development Corporation, d.b.a. “Columbus Economic Development Board” (EDB), is an independent, non-profit local economic development organization serving Columbus and Bartholomew County, Indiana. The organization’s strategic goal is to grow & attract well-paying, high value-added, community-minded base/primary businesses by influencing and leveraging the area’s distinct capabilities in advanced manufacturing, design, and Science Technology Engineering & Math (STEM) education resources. Current industry targets include Pharmaceutical Manufacturing, Engineering/R&D Services, and Office Administrative Services. The EDB’s approach is three-fold: (1) Work with existing primary employers to help them grow in Columbus and Bartholomew County, (2) attract and recruit new companies, and (3) work with fellow community leaders to build upon and continuously improve the area’s desirability to businesses and residents.
Since the EDB’s founding in 1976, recruited companies today employ more than 7,400 persons, and those jobs support approximately 1,100 additional local jobs and generate an estimated $282 million in annual household spending. More than 360 local expansions have also been recorded, calling for $2.6 billion in initial investments. For more information on the Columbus EDB and the services it offers, please visit www.ColumbusIN.org.