The Marshall County Economic Development Corp. is looking to gain insight on the current business climate in the county. The organization has begun interviewing businesses as part of the Business Expansion and Retention program. Chief Executive Officer Jerry Chavez says the program serves as an intelligence gathering effort to better understand what existing businesses are facing on a day-to-day basis, as well as potential expansion opportunities in the coming years.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Chavez said officials will conduct one-on-one, confidential interviews with businesses throughout the county.
“Through the BEAR interview, we’re there to collect data; we’re not there to solve problems. That’s unique because some professionals get into a, ‘Well let’s fix the problem today,'” said Chavez. “But it’s more important to step back, gather this information, then see collectively, you know, what is your business community facing. And that has probably more influence in terms of how we develop programs going forward.”
The MCEDC says the information gathered through the BEAR process can answer a variety of questions, including why current employers are located in the county and what advantages or disadvantages they experience. The organization says answering such questions can help to attract new employers to the region or identify what types of industries are a good fit.
The county last conducted BEAR interviews in 2015. Chavez says they want to understand what capital investment is occurring in the county.
“Annualized, we see anywhere from about $10 million to $20 million of (capital expenditure) in Marshall County. If we can influence that and drive that number higher, then we’re doing what we need to do. If that number goes below a certain threshold, then we want to know what’s affecting that capital investment, what’s prohibiting that from occurring.”
The MCEDC says the BEAR interviews can also give a sense of the quality of life improvements that could be made throughout the county.
In December, Marshall County received the 2019 Stellar Communities Designation from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs. The region will receive more than $13 million from various state agencies to implement its Regional Development Plan and Chavez says those efforts are progressing nicely.
“We are marching forward, specifically in a couple of areas. One of those is housing initiatives that were part of our RDP. Out of our action plan are a variety of projects that will launch very quickly – I would say probably by mid-summer or the tail end of summer. Most of those are geared towards housing.”
Chavez said officials will conduct one-on-one, confidential interviews with businesses throughout the county.