PCDC Highlights Strategic Plan, Recaps 2023 Accomplishments, & Welcomes New Team Members


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(Tell City, Indiana) – The Perry County Development Corporation (PCDC) proudly reflects on a year of significant accomplishments in 2023 including the unveiling of an updated strategic plan, the facilitation of multiple transformational projects as part of the State’s READI program, the launch of the MakeMyMove talent attraction incentive program, and the successful implementation of several strategic initiatives. The PCDC also recently welcomed two new team members – Shiraz Mukarram as Marketing & Special Initiatives Manager and Whitney Zellers as Workforce Development Specialist & Administrative Coordinator.

The new strategic plan, which was publicly unveiled at the organization’s Annual Dinner in September 2023, is intended to serve as a roadmap for PCDC leadership over the next three to five years and beyond. It outlines several strategic areas of focus including business retention & expansion, business attraction, workforce development, talent attraction, community development, and marketing. “Each of these areas plays a critical role in our county’s overall economic success,” says PCDC President & CEO Erin Emerson, “This plan reflects our continued commitment to fostering growth and development in Perry County.”

Business Retention & Expansion

One of the most important areas of focus for the PCDC remains business retention and expansion. The updated strategic plan tasks the group with prioritizing the needs and opportunities of the existing businesses that are the backbone of Perry County and its economy. In 2023, the PCDC worked closely with countless area businesses ranging from large companies that employ hundreds to small business owners who provide critical services and important amenities in the local community and wider region. Through targeted support and strategic partnerships, the PCDC assisted local companies with planning for infrastructure upgrades, obtaining required permits, accessing key resources, and exploring local, state, and federal programs and incentives.

An example of the PCDC’s business retention & expansion activities in 2023 was its work with Bliss Artisan Ice Cream, which recently announced exciting expansion plans in downtown Tell City. After learning about their need for additional manufacturing space, Emerson worked with owners Woody and Angie Woodburn to identify a local site where the business could expand to meet growing production demand. The former Swiss Plywood building, now renamed Factory 1867, has ample room for the couple to pursue their revitalization vision for the historic building including the creation of event space, a gift & scoop shop, offices for lease, and more.

Another way that the PCDC provides support to local businesses is through a partnership with the Southwest Indiana Small Business Development Center (ISBDC). Through this partnership, small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs can access confidential, one-on-one business counseling services at no cost. In 2023, 12 individuals utilized these valuable services for a total of 65 counseling hours, resulting in 2 new business starts, 2 new jobs created, and 32 jobs retained.

In November 2023, PCDC’s Shiraz Mukarram partnered with Perry County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sara Zuelly to launch a campaign highlighting and celebrating local small businesses. The campaign, which is ongoing, featured over 30 businesses in 2023 and reached an audience of more than 170K via social media.

Business Attraction

Although economic development strategies have diversified over the last decade, new business attraction remains a cornerstone of community success. Leads for potential businesses can originate from a variety of sources including the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), professional site search consultants, commercial realtors, local property owners, utility providers, existing businesses, and sometimes even direct outreach. In 2023, 86 requests for information were received from the IEDC and based upon the search criteria, the PCDC was able to respond to 11 of these requests with a potential site. In addition to responding to requests from the State, the organization responded to five site searches from other sources and conducted four in-person site visits with a company interested in expanding current operations to include a facility in Perry County.

Workforce Development

As employers across the nation grapple with labor shortages, the PCDC continues to prioritize workforce development and the creation of innovative talent pipelines. In 2023 the organization collaborated with Southwest Indiana Workforce Board, WorkOne Southwest, the Perry County Chamber of Commerce, Tell City Ivy Tech Career & Technology Center, and area school corporations to implement a range of workforce development initiatives.

The Perry County Jobapalooza, a one-stop-shop for individuals in search of employment and other resources, was hosted in April. Ten local employers and six area non-profits participated, and 62 job seekers attended. The PCDC also worked with area employers to connect them with training opportunities like the State’s Next Level Jobs Employer Training Grant and relevant courses at the local Ivy Tech site.

Exposing local students to local career opportunities is another critical element of the PCDC’s workforce development activities. In 2023 the organization, in conjunction with several area partners, successfully hosted multiple events for local students such as the Skilled Trades Fair, the Tour of Opportunity, and ASPIRE. In all, the organization’s 2023 workforce development initiatives included more than 125 employers and over 600 students.

The PCDC is committed to ensuring area residents have access to cutting-edge training programs that are aligned with locally in-demand career opportunities. For this reason, $350,000 of READI funding is being invested in the Tell City Ivy Tech Career & Technology Center for facility upgrades and advanced automation and robotics equipment. The PCDC also helped to fund the travel expenses of an adjunct instructor in 2023 to ensure local students had access to a critical course.

Talent Attraction

Growing the county’s labor force by attracting new talent to the area is also prioritized in the organization’s strategic plan as PCDC leadership understands that population growth is critical to continued success. In January 2023, the organization launched its MakeMyMove campaign, the county’s first talent attraction incentive program which offers a $7K cash incentive to out-of-state residents willing to relocate to Indiana. To qualify, an individual must be a full-time remote worker or be able to bring their job and income with them when they relocate to Perry County, in addition to other eligibility criteria. In 2023, the PCDC welcomed three new households consisting of eight new residents. These new residents are estimated to generate more than $151K in new annual direct and indirect consumer spending, over $8,500 in new annual state tax revenue, and more than $4,600 in new annual local tax revenue.

Community Development

Supporting the initiatives and programs that create the community services and resources needed by current and future residents is another fundamental focus of the PCDC. Quality, affordable housing is critical for community growth and increasing and diversifying the local housing supply was a major focus in 2023. The organization aided the Perry County Redevelopment Commission in the creation of Forest Canton Heights, a 27-lot subdivision, with $775K of READI funds for site work. An additional $1M of READI funds was secured to assist with infrastructure costs for Hoosier Heights, a 33-lot development scheduled to break ground in 2024.

Increasing access to high-quality childcare is another strategic goal of the PCDC as it is vital for young families, enabling parents to participate in the workforce and providing their children with quality education during a time of critical development. In 2023, Emerson advocated to local, state, and federal officials about the connection between childcare and economic development and its role as essential infrastructure, especially in rural communities. These efforts were successful when Perry County’s CCDF reimbursement rate was increased by more than 200%, resulting in an additional $250K of state and federal funds for Perry County providers. In July 2023, the state raised reimbursement rates for rural counties throughout Indiana, a pivotal shift not just locally, but for families, providers, and communities statewide. In August 2023, Emerson testified before the Interim Study Committee on Public Health, Behavioral Health & Human Services at the Indiana Statehouse about the condition of Indiana’s childcare system. Her testimony garnered attention from news outlets statewide and prompted legislators to seek her recommendations for enhancing access in Indiana, many of which are included in Senate Bill 2 of the current legislative session.

In addition to increasing local housing supply and improving access to childcare, the PCDC’s 2023 community development efforts included helping to facilitate the Perry County Mental Health Coalition, hosting multiple family-friendly annual events via the Perry County Quality of Life Committee, and partnering with local leaders to support important initiatives and programs that improve local quality of life and place.

Marketing

The final focus area outlined in the plan is marketing the assets and advantages of Perry County via a partnership with the Perry County Chamber of Commerce and Perry County Convention & Visitors Bureau in the form of a unified community brand and marketing campaign – Pick Perry. In addition to a centralized website containing comprehensive information about visiting, living, and doing business in Perry County, the campaign includes numerous activities and events aimed at strategically promoting the community to prospective residents, businesses, developers, and investors. In 2023, Perry County was featured in a Forbes Advisor article about community relocation incentive programs. Over the course of the year, the Pick Perry campaign reached more than 190K individuals through its website and social media outlets.

Educating key stakeholders, along with the broader community, about the significance of economic development and the impact of the work performed by the PCDC is also prioritized in the plan.

New Team Members

Shiraz Mukarram, Marketing & Special Initiatives Manager, joined the PCDC in May 2023. With a background in photojournalism, film, and marketing & communications, Mukarram brings valuable expertise and a fresh perspective to the PCDC’s mission. In addition to managing Perry County’s MakeMyMove program and various special projects, he assists with business retention & expansion activities, small business development initiatives, and the Pick Perry campaign.

Whitney Zellers, Workforce Development Specialist & Administrative Coordinator, began her role with the PCDC in January 2024. Previously with the Southwest Indiana Workforce Board, Zellers comes to the organization with a wealth of industry knowledge as well as established relationships with area employers, local school corporations, and regional training partners. In addition to leading the PCDC’s workforce development initiatives, she handles office administration and assists with community development activities and the Pick Perry campaign.


“We are incredibly proud of the achievements made by our organization in 2023,” said PCDC Board Chairman David Goffinet. “With the addition of our new team members, we are positioned to make even more progress towards advancing economic growth, fostering workforce development, and enhancing the overall quality of life in Perry County. We look forward to building upon these successes in the years to come.”

About Perry County Development Corporation

The Perry County Development Corporation (PCDC) is a non-profit economic development organization dedicated to leading positive change and creating generational programs that will ensure long-term quality of life and economic growth for Perry County. The mission of the PCDC is to provide leadership, advocacy, and marketing for economic development and quality of place in Perry County to retain and expand existing businesses, drive workforce development, and attract new investment. For more information about the PCDC and its initiatives, visit www.pickperry.com.

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