Marshall County Economic Development Corporation Fosters County-Wide Success
Photographer / Jubilee Edgell
Anyone familiar with Marshall County knows that it is a unique place. Geographically, it sits at the crossroads of Indiana. There’s a diverse demographic mix. The tourism industry is made up of a variety of businesses – eateries, recreation and entertainment establishments, museums, shopping and more. Marshall County also hosts several American and international manufacturers, many of whom are present thanks to the efforts of the Marshall County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC).
The MCEDC was established in 2007 to encourage manufacturing industries to open plants in the county.
“Marshall County leaders decided they needed an organization for economic development on a regional basis,” says former President Jerry Chavez, who moved to northwest Mississippi to work for the Delta Council Development Department in October.
Chavez, who has worked in economic development across the nation for more than 20 years, says that public-private partnerships like the MCEDC are relatively unique to Indiana.
“Marshall County has a deep desire to have a robust economic program,” he explains. “We really have put our best foot forward to taking a pro-business stance.”
When Chavez was hired to join the team in 2014, one of his first objectives was to help the MCEDC establish a four-point strategic economic development plan for the county. That plan has guided the organization well through the last few years.
The first point in the county’s strategic plan is business attraction – focusing on bringing new industries into the area. In 2019 Marshall County captured $161 million in industrial capital investment. That’s more than any of the surrounding counties were able to secure.
The second point in the strategic plan is business retention and expansion.
“We do that through understanding what their business needs are,” Chavez says. “That’s based upon a formalized questionnaire. We sit down and gather the same information from all our businesses on a regular basis. We’re trying to predict what the future is by information. It’s unique, but it serves us very well.”
The third point is workforce development. After discovering the workforce needs of a business, the MCEDC helps that business prepare and implement a plan to succeed.
The fourth point is cultivation of an area that is beneficial to entrepreneurship.
“Marshall County has a rich history in entrepreneurs beginning their business in their garage or basement, and those businesses now have a national presence,” Chavez says. “We’re trying to get back to that familiarity through our entrepreneurship ecosystem.”
Several local industries have benefitted from the MCEDC’s influence, including Pretzels, Inc. in Plymouth, which implemented a $77 million expansion, and Sequel Wire and Cable in Argos, which announced a $58 million expansion – both in 2019.
The MCEDC also seeks to benefit small, locally-owned businesses by establishing a microloan program for those who are struggling to keep their doors open.
“Through our microloan program, we are collecting applications to help businesses affected by COVID and from a general impact,” Chavez explains.
Chavez believes that the MCEDC’s long-term vision necessarily comes with short-term effects and benefits.
“We want to grow Marshall County, and if we’re creating good jobs we also need to think about how we’re going to advance quality of life,” he says. “How are we building homes? How are we improving our roadways? What are we doing to improve our parks or trails? What are we doing to improve those items that really make us very holistic in our daily lives? We’re actually trying to provide more variety for the existing residents of Marshall County.”
Looking to the future, Chavez is certain that the four-point strategic plan will benefit the county for decades to come.
“Marshall County is well-positioned going forward,” he says. “We spent six and a half years building a very sound, pro-business stance and message that resonates not only here within the region, but also across the state of Indiana as a whole.”
The MCEDC is located at 2864 Miller Drive in Plymouth. Call them at 574-935-8499 or email Pam Davis, office manager, at email@example.com. To learn more, visit marshallcountyedc.org.