Economic Group Taps IEDC Exec as President

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The Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance has named Charlie Sparks chief executive officer. He currently serves as vice president of the Indiana Economic Development Corp.

February 4, 2014

News Release

Kokomo, Ind. -- Charlie Sparks, an accomplished community and economic development executive, will lead the Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance as president and CEO.

The announcement was made today by Steve Hartwig, board chair for the Alliance. "The Alliance is focused on the Strategic Plan and is poised for great success moving forward. Charlie is the right person to lead our organization into the future," Hartwig said. The Alliance board voted Monday to appoint Sparks to the position.

"I appreciate the trust placed in me by the Alliance board of directors and I am committed to working with them, and the staff, to continue moving this community forward," Sparks said. "The Alliance exists to promote the prosperity of this community, the business enterprises in this community and the citizens of this community. We will continue those efforts with a strong focus on continuous improvement." Sparks will begin his duties with the Alliance on March 17.

"Charlie Sparks is experienced in the process of bringing and keeping companies large and small in Indiana," said Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight. "And just as important is his understanding for the critical role city planning, urban renewal and quality of life investments play in attracting the workforce Kokomo's employers are seeking."

Sparks has extensive experience and a record of significant success in community and economic development. He currently serves as Vice President of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation and will finish up his duties there in March. As Vice President he has been responsible for leading the State of Indiana’s economic development efforts. His duties have included overseeing the State's business development and project management efforts for which he has had state-wide responsibility. Under his leadership, the IEDC has secured over 1,300 business commitments to create over 145,000 jobs and invest over $23 billion to expand or locate operations in Indiana.

Prior to being named Vice President, Sparks served the IEDC as Director, Business Development. He has served at the state level in the administrations of four Indiana Governors. A native of Kokomo, he began his economic development career with the Kokomo/Howard County Development Corporation in 1980 and has been engaged in economic development in Indiana for over 30 years. Previous positions include service as president of the Kokomo/Howard County Development Corporation, the Warsaw/Kosciusko County Chamber of Commerce and the Greater LaPorte Chamber of Commerce. His experience also includes a stint with SBC as manager of regulatory affairs and director of external affairs.

"We are excited to have Charlie join our efforts to work towards a stronger community. He has led Indiana's economic development efforts for the past several years and we are anxious to bring his talents home to Kokomo and Howard County," stated Paul Wyman, Howard County Commissioner President and Alliance Board Member.

Interim President/CEO Chris Hamm was contracted last March to assist in executing organizational realignment and facilitate the search for a new President/CEO. He will stay under contract to help with the leadership transition and assist with the very important economic development initiatives for the organization. "We thank Chris for his work over the past year. He has aided the evolution of the organization and strengthened the foundation for future growth opportunities," said Hartwig.

The Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization funded by public and private investment. It began operations in 2009 through the merger of the Kokomo-Howard County Chamber of Commerce, the Kokomo-Howard County Development Corporation, the Kokomo Downtown Association and Inventrek Technology Park and began providing management oversight for the Greater Kokomo Convention and Visitors Bureau since 2011. The mission of the Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance is to align, link, and leverage its resources to grow community prosperity. More information about the organization and the partner businesses is available at greaterkokomo.com.

Source: Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance