By David Slone
WARSAW – Having heard only positive comments or none at all about the daycare center ordinance they passed on July 5 on first reading, the Warsaw Common Council unanimously approved it on second reading Monday night, July 18.
Mayor Joe Thallemer reminded the Council that the changes would allow daycare centers as permitted uses in Residential-3 and Commercial-2 zoning districts instead of requiring special exceptions.
Councilman Mike Klondaris said he didn’t hear anything from anyone about the ordinance.
Councilwoman Diane Quance said she heard very positive things about it when she and Councilman Jerry Frush attended the Kosciusko Chamber of Commerce luncheon last week.
“People stopped me, as I was going through the food line, to say thank you. They mentioned it publicly as part of the Chamber presentation about the city of Warsaw supporting this type of friendly environment. So, the only comments I have heard have been overwhelmingly positive,” Quance stated.
She made the motion to approve the second ordinance on second reading, with Frush seconding it, and it passed 7-0.
City attorney Scott Reust reported Kosciusko County Clerk Ann Torpy and the County Commissioners moved forward in a very timely and quick manner in realigning some precincts in the city.
“The precincts that they established will enable the proposed redistricting ordinance that we sent them a couple months ago with our unanimous approval of how we intended to redistrict the Council,” he said.
The ordinance for the Council’s consideration should be completed within the next week or two.
Thallemer said the ordinance will take two readings and a public hearing, but the Council’s part in the process should be completed in August. After the Council approves the ordinance, it will be sent to the state with other information from the county clerk for the state’s approval.
The process needs to be completed by Dec. 31. City elections are in 2023.
Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation Chief Executive Officer Alan Tio also gave the Council a mid-year update on KEDCo.
“Just a couple of reminders from our 2022 work plan. This is a carryover from the last time we were here. We are still working around three priority areas: entrepreneurship, housing and talent. These are based on needs that we are hearing about in the community, the opportunities we have to grow and the legacy we have with entrepreneurship, to meet the housing needs of employers and to really encourage people to live closer to where they work. And then, of course, also talent – making sure we’re developing programs and services that help companies recruit and retain the talent they’re working for,” Tio said.
Within KEDCo operations, he said KEDCo is adding project management capacity.
“So what does that mean? It means 1.5 (full-time employees) are coming on board to help us build our team. There are 10 of us, currently, including the full-time and part-time team members. We know there is plenty of work here and plenty of opportunity ahead of us. We don’t want to miss that just because we’re limited to my skill sets or the time that my team has available,” Tio said.
He said KEDCo is taking that a step further by looking at how it can redeploy existing team members. KEDCo is partnering with a couple regional entities and also developing a customer service model.
In the last 90 days, Tio said, “I reported the last time we were together that we were preparing to launch our MedTech Accelerator Studio. I’m pleased to share that we are launching that studio this week. We have our first workshop. (We’re) partnering with a group out of Indianapolis called NEXT Studios. It’s what they do, they operate a venture studio.”
What that means, he explained, is that instead of waiting for people to have start-up companies, “the studio model means that we basically go find industry problems and work through what are some potential solutions and build companies around the solutions.”
He said they’ll be working with orthopedic companies and entrepreneurs in the area, identifying the needs around medical technologies and looking at possible solutions.
Tio said they want to encourage start-up companies here to be working on those kinds of things.
Funding from the Don Wood Foundation and Kosciusko County helps support the MedTech Accelerator Studio.
Tio talked about KEDCo’s intellectual properties matchmaking program with partner JC Innovations. USDA Rural Development provided funding for that.
“That means taking intellectual properties and patents that are available from existing companies and finding groups that want to develop that intellectual property,” Tio said.
“We are launching our first project in that program, but we’ll have something more public to announce this summer, this fall,” he said.
Tio told the Council KEDCo has finalized plans to have a temporary clubhouse space for entrepreneurs to have shared workspace. They’ve partnered with a group out of West Lafayette called MED Institute. Real estate owner Dave Gustafson is working with KEDCO on the space.
“Going forward, the focus for the second half of the year is getting back to basics of, now that we have some programming for entrepreneurship, housing and talent, let’s get back out and meet with companies, averaging three to four company interactions per week, making referrals to regional and statewide partners,” Tio said.
KEDCO doesn’t expect its business owners and decision-makers to know what’s out there as far as resources, but it’s KEDCO’s job to help them find those resources, he said.
Ultimately, Tio continued, KEDCo is looking for more companies that KEDCo can work with that have job creation investment projects.
“They’re going to invest dollars and facilities or equipment here, they’re going to create jobs here. Estimating about 10 to 12 in our pipeline right now, but we want to see more activity,” Tio said.
In other business, the Council approved a resolution reducing encumbrances. It was the second such resolution this year and has to be done as part of the budgeting process.
Thallemer reminded the Council that their Aug. 1 meeting will begin at 6 p.m. instead of 7 p.m. for budget reviews.