MENTONE — The town board of Mentone heard a presentation from Kosciusko County’s top economic development official at the board’s regular monthly meeting Wednesday, June 5. Alan Tio, chief executive officer of Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation introduced himself to the board, which included Jill Gross and Shelly Krueger, as well as Town Attorney Andrew Grossnickle and Clerk-Treasurer Barb Ross. Board Member Tim Croy was absent.
Tio presented paper copies of a slide presentation to the board and explained KEDCO’s primary goal in the county.
“In economic development, you typically think about deal making,” said Two. “We’re more focused on the transformation that makes a community attractive. We’re business builders, we’re here to help people at every stage. The business builder model starts with the EDC as well, because KEDCO is a business.”
Tio told the board that the corporation is developing a new business model, and highlighted a recent collaboration with a group called AgriNovus Indiana, which assists the corporation in promoting the county’s vibrant agri-business.
“It’s more about partnerships and services that we offer,” Tio said, adding that KEDCO does more with less than his previous employer, the economic development counterpart in nearby Whitley County.
“We have 70 percent of the budget of Whitley County, but we’re twice the size,” Tio said. “So, we’ve got some work to do.”
Tio told the board that Mentone represents 1.2 percent of the county population, but added that every community is important to KEDCO.
“If we’re successful in Milford, bringing an agribusiness to them, it has benefits here and if we have a success here, it benefits them,” Tio said.
Board Member Krueger told Tio that small towns such as Mentone sometimes feel that organizations such as his focus primarily on the county seat — Warsaw.
“I understand that, and I’m sensitive to that,” Tio said. “We want to find a way to have success everywhere in the county. I totally understand that we’re in this together.”
Tio went on to tell the board members that KEDCO is studying other areas, known as peer communities. He told the board by studying those communities, his organization can gauge the success of Kosciusko County. He said a distinct advantage that Kosciusko County has is its industrial diversity, meaning strength in orthopedics, agribusiness and other industries.
“We want to see how we can become best in class,” he said.
In other business, the board:
- Heard from Gross, who reminded Tio that the town is losing the vital business of Midwest Poultry.
- Heard an update from Grossnickle about the chronic lateness of KC Online, who has a monthly bill with the town for equipment that is installed on city equipment. Ross told Grossnicle that she recently received a payment for three months, but that the company is still behind. Grossnickle said the contract recently automatically renewed, but the board members discussed ways to get out of the contract when the current agreement expires. “I’d hate to have to repeat this every two months,” said Krueger.