[News Release] Mary's plans for regional economic development

Mary responds to her opponent's plan for economic development

My opponent is proposing a traditional method of economic development in which the city attempts to recruit big industry - in this case, automotive manufacturing. The Economic Development Corporation of Elkhart County has been working on attraction and expansion for years - and has been funded by the city ever since I can remember.

"Chasing a few companies in an extremely competitive environment breaks down at a certain point," said Brian Blackford, Director of Education and Training at Ball State University's Center for Economic and Community Development.

Goshen needs to look at a new approach.

With the fastest growing sector of the economy being service, and the manufacturing segment dropping precipitately, it’s clear to me that Goshen needs to focus on talent attraction - something that has been part of my campaign’s platform from day one.

As mayor, I will focus on primacy of place as an economic development tool. I believe talent is the single most important element in local economic development - attracting talent and investing in existing talent to keep them here. 

It used to be you’d move anywhere to take a job. Today most move to a desired place and then look for a job. I envision our city with an abundance of amenities - so much so that you will never want to leave. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. manufacturing employment fell from 19.6 million in 1979 to 13.7 million in 2007. Whether you believe this decline is due to manufacturing moving to China and Mexico, or due to the tariff hikes, everyone agrees it’s been on a sharp decline.

Economic reports consistently show a shrinking percentage of workforce employed in manufacturing (which is down 15 points since 1970) with all net growth coming from the service sector. Globalization, productivity and innovation continue to change the marketplace’s environment. These facts have caused challenges with the traditional approach to economic development that my opponent is proposing.

The traditional ED approach likes to use buzzwords such as new business attraction, tax abatements, phase-ins, business expansion, or otherwise chasing a few companies in an extremely competitive environment.

The fact of the matter is, there has been a paradigm shift in ED whether we want to accept it or not. Balance is still important, but Goshen must commit to a strategic approach to primacy of place in order to be a city people want to live, work and play. 

As your engineer, I have worked tirelessly to improve our city’s quality of life. I have spent countless hours on bike and pedestrian trail development, road structures, brownfield cleanups and creative ways to improve our existing structures, or develop new ones. 

As mayor, I will work to ensure Goshen is competitive in the marketplace by creating a culture that embraces change, is creative and bold and invests in primacy of place. 

In order for Goshen to attract and retain talent, we must commit to best practices for quality of place. Ball State’s Center for Community Economic Development has an Indiana Communities Institute. As mayor, I plan to work closely with them, as they are on the cutting edge of policy, research and practice in the Midwest. 

Their best practice approach includes: community design, community collaboration for educational excellence, community well-being, municipal governance, community readiness for change and an integration of culture, heritage and arts.

It should not go unnoticed that the Goshen Chamber of Commerce, Elkhart County Convention & Visitors Bureau, LaCasa, Well Foundation Goshen and Downtown Goshen, Inc. are some of the groups who have been doing quality of place for a long time. I desire to partner with them and the Economic Development Corporation of Elkhart County on quality of life initiatives. 

As mayor, I will commit to a holistic approach to regional economic development. I believe we can remain authentic while forming partnerships with other cities in our region. By working together, we can accomplish more.

There is a regional cities initiative occurring right now between Elkhart, St. Joseph and Marshall counties to promote regional collaboration and development. There’s also an exciting vibrant community initiative being spearheaded by Elkhart County Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Community Foundation of Elkhart County.

As mayor, I will coordinate with these groups - our existing capacities and resources - while continuing to invest in primacy of place. I understand that collaboration and creativity is key in our city’s success in this endeavor.