GREENWOOD - The president and chief executive officer of the Greater Greenwood Chamber of Commerce says a proposed merger with the Johnson County Development Corp. is the result of an evolution in economic development. The organizations are looking to formally launch the combined entity, Aspire Johnson County, in January if the merger is approved later this month by members. Christian Maslowski says the merger has been an aspirational process that began a few years ago.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Maslowski said modern, comprehensive economic development has changed, including in Indiana. 

"No longer are we sitting by the phone and waiting for some large company to call. We are focusing on community development; we're focusing on placemaking; we are doubling down on helping individuals start and grow businesses; we're creating our own economic activity," said Maslowski. "And so you see chambers of commerce and economic development organizations and agencies doing all of this complementary work and so the process of economic development has evolved. To amplify and reach the reach and the impact of all of these complementary efforts, we're seeing chambers and other development agencies across the U.S. begin to join forces."

Maslowski says the effort aims to create a stronger, more strategically-aligned engine to drive business and economic growth. He says officials have done a great deal of research, including talking with colleagues throughout the state such as One Southern Indiana, which serves as the chamber of commerce and economic development organization for Clark and Floyd counties. 

"They have shared the benefits (and) the success stories. They have made it very clear that businesses and communities respond very favorably to this because you have that one stop shop. There's no longer multiple points of contact and entry into the community; there's one. It's that single source of all economic development activity."

The membership of both the chamber and the JCDC will vote to approve the merger August 21. Maslowski says the response thus far has been overwhelmingly positive. "Community leaders and business leaders and key stakeholders see the combined resources, the combined staff talent, the combined economic voice as a real win."

Maslowski says, if the merger is approved, the organizations will form an integration committee comprised of board members from each group, which will go into comprehensive strategic planning, including the review and approval of financial and operational decisions. "Our short-term goals for the balance of 2019 will be to have those in-depth community conversations, do the in-depth analysis and prepare a plan to move our community forward, to drive economic development even stronger than we already are independently and then we will launch those activities in 2020."