The executive director of the Madison County Corp. for Economic Development says the organization is turning to "purposeful" marketing in an attempt to pursue business and jobs. Rob Sparks says the ambitious Venture 69, a partnership with Pendleton-based Anderson Creative LLC, aims to attract 50,000 new jobs to Madison County over the next 35 years amid what he calls "stiff" competition along the I-69 corridor. Sparks tells Inside INdiana Business the pitch will emphasize the county’s quality-of-life.

He says the biggest challenge will be a familiar one to community leaders throughout the state: work force development. Sparks says the county has lost some 27,000 jobs as major manufacturers like General Motors moved out during the last three decades. The area has started getting some of those jobs back in recent years with the location of operations from foreign-owned businesses like NTN Driveshaft North America, Sirmax North America Inc. and Greenville Technologies Inc. to Anderson. Sparks says the pitch to potential locators domestic or foreign domestic is relatively the same. "Certainly references are still a big key: can we do business here? Can I get through the permit process? What’s it going to cost us to operate? Can I get a ready work force, with work force becoming the number one single issue? There’s a lot of dirt anyplace throughout the country you could put a business." He adds real estate and infrastructure demands also play a role.

Sparks says the area offers a lot to potential new employers. "We try to say we’ve got a work force within that 30-40-mile radius of the communities here on this corridor where you can find everything from general labor jobs, clear up to PhD and advanced degree program people that can handle engineering and such."

Sparks says recent studies from Indiana University project the population of central Indiana to grow by 700,000 by 2050 and he wants the area between exits 215 and 245 on I-69 to get a piece of that action. He says a planned widening of the roadway between Noblesville and just south of Anderson will also help the cause.

Sparks says the Venture 69 effort will continue to unfold and the area is in a good position to meet its marks for reasons including partnerships with local schools, the potential to capture "peripheral" jobs in growing areas like nearby Hamilton County and increased attention from national leaders like President Donald Trump to bring manufacturing jobs back the United States.