ANDERSON — Plans to explore the city’s best opportunity for growth has led to a regional partnership with other communities struggling to spur their economic growth.
“Mainly, we are all working together because we have similar backgrounds – our large manufacturing sector is gone,” said Mike Fischkorn, Anderson’s deputy director of economic development.
“We are trying to figure out ways to move beyond that legacy and this might be a good opportunity for us to pool our resources and help the region in general,” he said.
The city is working with Muncie and New Castle to develop a strategic plan with funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA). The EDA has approved a matching fund grant for $150,000 to assist with planning. Each city has pledged $50,000 creating a total investment of $300,000 for the project.
The tri-county effort promises to benefit the region’s combined population of 297,000.
In their application for funding the cities say, “these communities recognize both their shared challenges and strengths and that their individual economic development success hinges critically on their ability to work together.”
Officials say more than 40,000 jobs have been lost from Madison, Delaware and Henry counties with the closure of the General Motor plants, Borg Warner and other suppliers, and service positions were lost.
“With an aging population and deep workforce training needs, this coalition of communities recognizes the time is now to develop a bold and achievable vision for the future,” the application states.
The East Central Indiana Regional Planning District plans to administer the project on behalf of the region.
“I have been working with two Democrats and one Republican to make this happen,” said Roy Budd, president of the East Central Indiana Regional Planning District.
Budd said Anderson originally applied for a grant to revitalize American manufacturing, but they were competing with cities like Cleveland and Milwaukee and their application was denied. He said he was then contacted by the EDA about funding that was available for a regional application.