DAVIESS COUNTY – The Daviess County Economic Development Corp. is partnering with Purdue Extension to help local businesses recover from the pandemic. The partners have launched the Daviess County Business Retention & Expansion program, which is designed to engage businesses in an effort to advance long-term quality of place, workforce attraction and development, new housing, and business retention strategies. DCEDC Executive Director Bryant Niehoff says the collaboration with area businesses is key to fueling growth.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Niehoff said the pandemic made this type of program crucial for the county.
“Many businesses were hit very hard during the pandemic. We all do business differently as a result of the pandemic, so there’s never been a better time than now to have these conversations,” Niehoff said. “As we start to look to those long-term strategies, hopefully we can begin to align some concepts that can help our existing businesses continue to sustain their long-term presence and their growth efforts here in the community, while also aligning that with some of our community development strategies as well.”
The Daviess County BR&E program will be implemented in stages, with the first stage involving interviews with local businesses. The DCEDC says community and Purdue officials have already begun site visits, which will be completed over the next three months to help identify areas of both strength and concern for local businesses.
“As we sit back [and] we pull that data together, we’re looking to find some common themes and just working with our business community in the this role for the past three years since I’ve been with the organization, workforce is priority number one; I would very much presume that that is going to be a big topic in our discussions with out businesses,” said Niehoff. “Also, the business-friendly climate – what does that look like from a business owner’s, a plant manager’s perspective? Are there some strategies that we can put in place to enhance that in Daviess County?”
Niehoff says it is critical to engage the local business community, which has been responsive early in the program.
“We don’t know what we don’t know. So, we have to have those candid discussions with our business community so that we understand what the realities are, the good, the bad and the ugly,” he said. “I’ve been thrilled thus far at the response rate that we’ve had from the businesses we’ve talked to. They’ve all been super engaged in the conversation. They’ve been great and very willing to sit down with us and talk about their businesses and help educate us, quite frankly, on what they’re doing, how they’ve pivoted throughout the pandemic and what’s on the horizon.”
In addition to the DCEDC and Purdue Extension, the team working on the Daviess County BR&E program include representatives from the city of Washington, the Indiana Small Business Development Center, the Daviess County Chamber of Commerce, the Indiana Economic Development Corp., the Southern Indiana Development Commission, Artisan Electronics and Graber Post Buildings.
The DCEDC says further details on the program are “forthcoming.”