At the July meeting of the Kosciusko County Redevelopment Commission, Dave Behr, the regional director of Indiana Economic Development Corporation, shared with the commission the tools that the state has for courting business, and Kosciusko County’s economic standing in Indiana.
Behr’s primary objective is attracting new businesses, primarily manufacturing and distribution companies, to his region, which includes Kosciusko, Elkhart, Marshall, St. Joseph and Fulton Counties.
“We try very hard to put as much information in front of these companies,” said Behr. “The main types of incentives we offer are tax based.”
“The tax credits, based on employment, is not a check, its a credit,” continued Behr. “They have to pay taxes to get credits back.”
Behr informed the commission that a if a company gets tax credits but pulls out of the area, the locality has a legal right to go after them for reimbursement.
A lot of companies, Behr said, are looking for pre-constructed buildings – shell buildings – which is something that KEDCo President George Robertson has been stressing for sometime.
“It seems like most companies are looking for existing buildings,” said Behr. “It doesn’t take that long to build an industrial building. Companies like to see a building, not a piece of ground.”
Another incentive the state can offer is reimbursement for workforce training. The state can reimburse companies which pay to train and educate its workforce. Although, he admits funding for this isn’t as available as he would like.
“The thing we’re really looking for is finding additional funding for training,” Behr said. “I’d love to see someone come in, sign a form and get some training.”
“Incentives are going to go away, so what really sells Indiana is financial stability,” said Behr. “We have a very skilled labor force and a strong work ethic. Also, cost of living.” Behr stated that Indiana being a right to work state and the “crossroads of America,” also plays a factor.
Behr expressed that he hears a lot of people complain that all the deals coming to Indian end up in and around Indianapolis. “Well that’s just not true,” said Behr. “Our region is second in Indiana, second only to Indianapolis.”
According to Behr, there were 28 projects in his region last year, and there’s already 24 projects in the works for this year. “We’re ahead of Fort Wayne,” he said.
Additionally at the meeting, George Robertson offered an update on KEDCo’s progress. He stated that several projects were in the pipeline, one of which would be announced at the Kosciusko County Council meeting.
The Redevelopment Commission also discussed the recent “good practices” trip several members took. ““It opened my eyes that you could do more than sewer and water,” said commission member Max Courtney.