Muncie IN has an economic alliance that works
By Rick Yencer
MUNCIE, INDIANA (NEWS) - Business and government leaders predicted a strong construction season in 2014, coming off a year of hundreds of new jobs and millions in new investment.
Alison Quirk, chairman of Delaware Advancement Corporation, told a breakfast crowd on Thursday that a real "big, big, big year" awaited the community that spending millions in infrastructure, education and quality of life initiatives to attract new business and jobs.
The Muncie Delaware County Economic Development Alliance gave a 2013 report on accomplishments like expansion of Magna PowerTrain and Bell Aquaculture besides several more businesses that have created or retained jobs.
To date, the Vision 2016 program has helped save or retain 1,043 jobs amounting to $42.6 million in payroll and more than $222 million in investment.
Quirk mentioned some big development like the Albany white perch farm that is investing $60 million and creating 30 new jobs. And auto parts manufacturer Magna creating 76 new jobs with $11.5 million in investment.
While program goals call for another 1,000 jobs, the investment level is at $250 million, Jay Julian, president of the local chamber of commerce, saw a strong construction season as work continues on the $60 million Village Promenade that including retail, apartments and a parking garage in the University Village and plans for a new $25 million Courtyard by Marriott in DWNTWN with another parking garage.
Quirk also mentioned dozens of site visits, marketing trips and development proposals that could mean more business and jobs in the community.
Mayor Dennis Tyler said the city provided lots of tool to promote development including a south Muncie tax increment financing district and also working with the county to quality of Industria Centre as a data technology site.
And steps have been taken by business and government to improve job skills by the workforce and expanding educational opportunities.
A noted site selector in the Midwest, Larry Gigerich, who directs Ginovus, said Muncie and Indiana were on he leading edge of providing a workforce, incentives and quality of life that attracts new business and industry.
And he said trends indicate more return of data and call centers outsourced a generation ago besides more middle level skill jobs that are essentially white and blue collar. Locally, Sallie Mae expanded its call center last year and now employs nearly 1,000 people, making it the largest private employer next to the local Walmarts.
Among the community's quality of life initiatives including an early childhood development program, improving the community's image and also building on park and recreational facilities like the new bath and beach area at Prairie Creek Reservoir that will be accessible to those with disability.
Roger Lavery, who chairs the local chamber board of directors, agreed it would be an exciting year as more construction and new business starts happen. Lavery also is the dean for the College of Communication, Information and Media at Ball State.
That higher education resource, ranked among the top in academics and affordability also is an economy that bring people and business to the community as well as IU Health that operates Ball Memorial Hospital.
The economic development alliance can be found online at www.muncie.com