Madison County Makes Play For 50k Jobs

Inside IN Posted: Jan 23, 2017 6:50 PM EST

ANDERSON – The executive director of the Madison County Corp. for Economic
Development says the organization is turning to “purposeful” marketing in an attempt to
pursue business and jobs. Rob Sparks says the ambitious Venture 69, a partnership with
Pendleton-based Anderson Creative LLC, aims to attract 50,000 new jobs to Madison
County over the next 35 years amid what he calls “stiff” competition along the I-69 corridor.
Sparks tells Inside INdiana Business the pitch will emphasize the county’s quality-of-life.
He says the biggest challenge will be a familiar one to community leaders throughout the
state: work force development. Sparks says the county has lost some 27,000 jobs as major
manufacturers like General Motors moved out during the last three decades. The area has
started getting some of those jobs back in recent years with the location of operations from
foreign-owned businesses like NTN Driveshaft North America, Sirmax North America Inc.
and Greenville Technologies Inc. to Anderson. Sparks says the pitch to potential locators
domestic or foreign domestic is relatively the same. “Certainly references are still a big key:
can we do business here? Can I get through the permit process? What’s it going to cost us to
operate? Can I get a ready work force, with work force becoming the number one single
issue? There’s a lot of dirt anyplace throughout the country you could put a business.” He
adds real estate and infrastructure demands also play a role.
Sparks says the area offers a lot to potential new employers. “We try to say we’ve got a work
force within that 30-40-mile radius of the communities here on this corridor where you can
find everything from general labor jobs, clear up to PhD and advanced degree program
people that can handle engineering and such.”
Sparks says recent studies from Indiana University project the population of central Indiana
to grow by 700,000 by 2050 and he wants the area between exits 215 and 245 on I-69 to
get a piece of that action. He says a planned widening of the roadway between Noblesville
and just south of Anderson will also help the cause.
Sparks says the Venture 69 effort will continue to unfold and the area is in a good position
to meet its marks for reasons including partnerships with local schools, the potential to
capture “peripheral” jobs in growing areas like nearby Hamilton County and increased
attention from national leaders like President Donald Trump to bring manufacturing jobs
back the United States.