By Michael D. Doyle
For The Herald Bulletin
Twice now, Jahnae Erpenbach has seen the positive impact that the gaming industry can have on a community.
Based on that experience, Erpenbach, the vice president and general manager of gaming at Hoosier Park, strongly believes that the city of Anderson and Madison County are near a turning point in the area’s economic fortunes. Erpenbach came to Anderson as Hoosier Park’s vice president of marketing in 2007 and was a major player in the casino’s opening the following year.
Twenty-plus years in the hospitality industry has given Erpenbach strong insights into the importance of tourism in local economies.
“I’ve witnessed firsthand the metamorphosis of a town,” she said, recalling previous postings in the Illinois towns of Metropolis and Joliet. “I watched those communities change for the better and I was really proud to be part of it. I really want to see that kind of turnaround happen here as well.”
Erpenbach got her start in the industry just out of college as a sales representative and worked her way up the business. In 2007, Hoosier Park President Jim Brown called on Erpenbach to help build Hoosier Park from the ground up.
“Jim is one of the most respected people in the industry,” she said. “I was flattered that he would think of me. That was the first time I was ever involved in helping build something from scratch. It’s been a very rewarding experience.”
Erpenbach believes that as one of the county’s most visible business presences, Hoosier Park has lofty responsibilities to the community. She is involved in the Chamber of Commerce, the United Way, the Madison County Health Department and various other community projects.
“I really believe we have a grass-roots role in helping the area,” she said. “As business leaders we must use our resources to help benefit the community.”
Erpenbach said she has already seen that begin to happen and expects even better things to happen in the future.
“Sometimes all it takes is a little bit of hope and a little bit of progress to make a positive change,” she said. “We have already seen all kinds of good things happen. I really feel like there is a new day dawning in this community.”