Wabash — During its Annual Dinner Celebration, Grow Wabash County announced the launch of its “Growth Starts Here” campaign.
Over the next four years, Grow Wabash County aims to raise $1 million to help further promote economic development in Wabash County. Parker Beauchamp, chair of the Growth Starts Here campaign and a member of the Grow Wabash County board of directors announced the campaign and what the organization aims to accomplish to the 300 Annual Dinner attendees, said a news release from Grow Wabash County.
The event was held Oct. 10.
“We are launching this $1,000,000 campaign with one vision in mind – to be the model for small-town America. This campaign will help us confront the big picture issues we face head-on and allow us to fulfill our mission to ‘Grow a More Prosperous Wabash County’,” Beauchamp said.
The funds will be utilized in projects that support the boldest tasks in the pillars Grow Wabash County has built its mission on livability, workforce development, business development, entrepreneurship, and investor services. These include projects such as continuing the implementation of strategies to combat population decline, developing a shell building, facilitating new housing starts in Wabash County, training workers for jobs that are in high demand in our community, and continuing efforts to support foreign direct investment and a new international sister city relationship.
“We are excited to launch our ‘Growth Starts Here’ campaign,” Grow Wabash County president and CEO Keith Gillenwater said. “When Grow Wabash County was formed, our vision was to tackle the largest issues facing our community and this campaign will provide much of the seed funding to move these initiatives forward.”
This year’s annual dinner also recognized Oji Intertech, Inc. as its Business of the Year. The Japan-based company has been part of the Wabash County community for over 20 years and has even served as a link between the county and Japan.
Oji Intertech’s president Rick Sereno accepted the award on behalf of the company and was joined by many of Oji Intertech’s employees. Mr. Kazuo Irikura, an executive from Oji Intertech’s parent company in Japan made the trip from Japan to attend the evening’s festivities.
In keeping with Oji Intertech’s Japanese roots, Sereno invited Grow Wabash County Board Chair Jason Callahan to color in the left eye of the Daruma, a traditional symbol of wishes and wish fulfillment.
The annual dinner wasn’t all business, though. As always, the event had a few surprises up its sleeve starting with witty opening remarks from emcee Jonathan Cornell and followed by the top awards of the night: Volunteer of the Year and Distinguished Citizen of the Year.
Gary Larson, CFO of Ford Meter Box and treasurer of the Grow Wabash County Board of Directors was honored as the 2019 Volunteer of the Year, and Bill Barrows of the Wabash County YMCA was named as the 2019 Distinguished Citizen, the 77th person recognized with this annual honor.