A group of local chambers of commerce in Grant County has merged into one organization seeking to serve as a catalyst for business development countywide. Greater Grant County serves 13 communities, and Board Chair Scott Miller says the goal is to best utilize resources throughout the rural north central Indiana county. “We think, as we look to compete on a worldwide basis, it makes a lot of sense to work together versus apart,” Miller said.
Miller talked about the combination in an interview with Inside INdiana Business.
“We had multiple businesses that were a part of each one of these chambers. And we thought, ‘Man, it probably makes a lot of sense for us to work together on different initiatives than doing it separately.’ And that was kind of the genesis,” he said.
The process began last spring and picked up over the summer with a 15-person transition team comprised of representatives from the boards of the Gas City Area, Marion-Grant County, and Upland chambers of commerce.
Kylie Jackson, the former president and CEO of the Marion-Grant County Chamber of Commerce, will lead Greater Grant County in the same role. Elizabeth Adams, who previously served as executive director of the Gas City Area Chamber of Commerce, was named vice president for membership and marketing
With the combination, a group of 14 people from various professional backgrounds will comprise the new volunteer board for Greater Grant County. The organization said a committee structure will also be put in place for member-investors to get involved.
Miller said having a unified chamber of commerce will be particularly helpful when searching for businesses to establish operations in Grant County.
“I think anytime somebody’s looking to relocate, they’re often reading the local newspapers, they’re trying to figure out, ‘Does this county work well together?’ he said. “And so I think it sends an incredibly positive message to the business community as we look to continue to attract jobs and talent to this community.”
The response from businesses throughout the county has been overwhelmingly positive, according to Miller.
“People have reached out and said, ‘We thought these were already combined.’ They’ve said, ‘Why didn’t this happen sooner?’ People have said, ‘Hey, we think this is something really good that sets an example for our communities as to how we work better together than apart.'”
As part of a strategic planning process, Miller said Greater Grant County is looking at other communities of similar size that are doing things well for their communities.
The organization is planning to send a delegation to one area in September.
“We picked a community out in northern Iowa, which we think is very similar to ours but has been recognized on a national scale for some of the unique things that they’re doing,” he said. “And we want to go and just pick their brains and say, ‘Hey, what can we steal and bring back to Grant County?’ As well, it’s an opportunity for 20-25 of our leaders to go and rub shoulders with each other over a 2-3 day time period and further develop relationships here locally.”
Similarly, the organization is also hosting a group of 40 community leaders in April to focus on community development and find best practices for marketing and growing Grant County.
Greater Grant County’s offices are located at 217 S. Adams Street in Marion and 407 W. Main Street in Gas City.