Elected officials from throughout southern Indiana took part in a seminar Wednesday on economic development. The meeting at the French Lick Resort was the first of its kind put on by the regional economic development organization Radius Indiana. Around 50 elected officials took part including Washington Mayor-elect Dave Rhoads.

“We were really pleased with the turnout and thought it went pretty well,” said Radius president Jeff Quyle. “We took what was normally a two-or-three-day event and boiled it down to about three-fourths of a day.”

The event specifically targets the needs of elected officials, as an extension of its annual Economic Development for Community Leaders Program.

“About half of those attending were newly elected officials,” said Quyle. “We did this because a lot of times when folks get elected, they come in with expectations and then they get smacked in the face with more work than they ever imagined. It is also easy to get confused on what can be done in terms of economic development. We want these elected officials to be clear on development. We want them to be thinking about it from the day they take office, but realize it is a team effort that often involves long-term efforts.”

Experts from across the state provided insights and strategies on topics like site development; workforce; incentives; business retention, expansion and marketing; entrepreneurship and small business development; and organization, board structure and development.

The course brought elected officials from not only the Radius region (which includes those counties surrounding the Crane Naval Weapons Center) but additional counties in southwestern Indiana.

Among those attending was Washington Mayor-elect Dave Rhoads who took some lessons from the event. “Many of the speakers touched on how important it is for our city government, county officials and economic developers to work together,” he said. “We know that attracting new businesses and growing jobs is a very competitive process, and I look forward to taking the new information that I learned to help us showcase all that Washington and our entire region has to offer.”

The course was designed to strengthen leadership and collaboration in area counties, cities and towns and is part of the Radius Indiana strategic focus to serve as an educational leader for economic development.

“Participation in this new program has exceeded our expectation, and confirmed the need for the type of educational opportunity,” said Quyle. “We have elected officials from every corner of our region and also several officials from neighboring counties. A strong working relationship between those in office and economic development professionals is essential, and I believe this course can help us all work toward a shared goal of building and sustaining our communities.”

Mayor-elect Rhoads was not the only Daviess County official to attend the event. Doug Meiring, who is expected to take a seat on the Montgomery town board after the first of the year, also took part.

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