WARSAW — The Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation and the Kosciusko Chamber of Commerce hosted a luncheon on economic development Tuesday, Nov. 27, featuring Dr. Sue Ellspermann, president of Ivy Tech Community College.
The luncheon began with the recognition of KEDCo President George Robertson. Robertson joined KEDCo in 2010 following leadership positions with organizations based in Maryland, Louisiana, and New York. Since the beginning of his tenure as KEDCo president, the community has seen the development of Warsaw Tech Park, as well as dozens of announcements related to job creation and investment projects.
“It’s been a real privilege to be friends with George,” said KEDCo Board of Directors member Dan Brown. “He really helped us pull the whole county together by bringing in surrounding towns. During his tenure, there have been over 1,000 brand new jobs created in Kosciusko County. He does it all. And he’s constantly looking ahead.”
Robertson gave a brief speech upon acceptance of his recognition award, saying that Kosciusko County has been one of the most welcoming areas he’s ever lived in.
“My family and I have never been in a place that we felt more at home sooner than Kosciusko County,” said Robertson. “We as a country, world, and community are rushing rapidly into the future. We need to focus on getting ahead of the curve. That’s why we’ve been constantly pushing the housing issue.”
After lunch, community members listened to Ivy Tech President Dr. Sue Ellspermann speak about the importance of workforce development.
“Ivy Tech is a workforce engine,” said Ellspermann. “It has extensive programs, but there’s always improvement. We want to ensure that we are meeting the industry’s needs by making sure to put resources where they were needed.”
Ellspermann emphasized the importance of encouraging others to continue any type of college education after graduating from high school.
“It’s important to make sure that employers in the community have the workforce that they need,” said Ellspermann. “So it’s not a matter of ‘What do we want to do?’ It’s a matter of ‘What does Indiana need us to do?'”
The former lieutenant governor also took time to answer several questions raised by those in attendance. One subject Ellspermann discussed was Ivy Tech’s Achieve Your Degree program. The program allows employers to offer employees the opportunity to receive a free community college education.
“We have to invest in our own employees,” Ellspermann said. “Employees never pay out of pocket for this program, and employers will receive the ability to develop entry-level employees into ones with high skills.”
Local companies that are currently involved with this program include Lake City Bank, Bowen Center, Zimmer Biomet, Miller’s Health Systems, and Mason’s Healthcare.
“Everyone ought to do that (program),” said Ellspermann. “Think about the future of your employees and how you can invest in them. It’s the right blend of making sure you get the skills needed for your company to be successful.”
Ellspermann concluded her thoughts with a story on her four daughters and how all but one attended a four-year college. The daughter who attended community college is currently making the most money out of the four.
“For many, a four-year college program is not what they want,” said Ellspermann. “We really do need to open this up and make it a much more ubiquitous thing.”
To conclude the luncheon, KEDCo CEO Alan Tio discussed KEDCo’s initiatives. The initiatives included being known as problem solvers, becoming more than dealmakers, and being business builders.
“We have the people in the community who can solve problems,” said Tio. “We just have to work together and think bigger about how to solve those problems. We must continue investing in the workforce and make sure people know what we’re about.”
The luncheon was held at The Roost at Creighton’s Crazy Egg and was sponsored by Ivy Tech Community College, Grossnickle Eye Center, and Phend & Brown.