Economic Development Corporation Michigan City, better known simply as EDCMC, is in the news more often than just about any other organization in La Porte County. Take a glance through your newsfeed or a look at the paper, and there is a good chance you will see Executive Director Clarence Hulse in a picture at a ribbon cutting, quoted discussing a new business coming to the area, or explaining quality-of-life projects underway throughout the city.
Knowledge of what, exactly, EDCMC does is a bit more obscure – what does it mean to do economic development? Ultimately, their goals are pretty straightforward – draw in new businesses, help existing ones grow, and make the community a better, more attractive place to live and work. To accomplish all of that is a touch more complicated, but Hulse boiled their work down to one simple concept.
“We’re a connector,” he said. “Businesses, educators, nonprofits, governments, we figure out who we need to bring to the table to get different jobs done. We connect the dots, and put together a customized program or package for companies looking to settle or expand in the area.”
One of EDCMC’s main day-to-day responsibilities is serving as something of a guide to businesses looking to start a project, like an expansion or renovation, within the Michigan City community. Calls come in from all kinds of interests, ranging from local entrepreneurs to massive corporations.
“When we get a call from someone looking to relocate, we’re just one of many that they’re speaking with,” he said. “We’ll be talking to them for months, or a year and building an understanding of the types of jobs and skill sets they need, picking buildings or sites for them to look at. It’s like moving through rounds of a dating show, you could call it ‘Dating for Jobs and Investment.’”
While the company is examining its options, Hulse helps them connect with local resources that can provide detailed information or help about complex topics. Educators, for example, can explain workforce pipelines, while local governments can detail tax programs and types of public funding available.
“There’s all this stuff that goes on behind the scenes of this ‘courtship process,’” he said. “We’ll connect them with the city to understand their tax abatements, the state to learn about job training dollars and tax savings and structures.”
Sometimes, big, multinational companies show interest in a move to Michigan City, but they need to keep the process confidential. Instead of visiting themselves, they might send a site selector – an individual to act on their behalf and choose the best possible location for expansion. That site selector will come to the Region, meet with EDCMC, tour Michigan City, and remain almost entirely anonymous throughout the process.
“Those site selectors are kind of like a company’s paid matchmaker,” he said. “We’ve had them come to town, on a first name only basis, looking to learn more. They’ll come in, shake hands, tell us their names are Jimmy or Larry, and that’s all we know as we’re showcasing the city.”
One thing those companies look for is a stable, healthy workforce, and a community where prospective employees would want to live and grow. That is why Hulse, in addition to working on topics directly related to business, also puts a priority on helping local nonprofits and initiatives that are focused on improving the quality-of-life around the city.
“People ask me why we get involved in all these different causes and initiatives, it’s because at the end of the day we want to have a great workforce,” he said. “People who are happy, healthy, and well fed make great workers.”
Offering Affordable housing, providing access to healthy food, and simply beautifying the community are all efforts that Hulse and his team have made contributions to.
“We make sure that local leaders are aware of what companies are looking for,” he said. “No matter if it’s trends in the Midwest or nationally, we need to keep our fingers on the pulse of what’s going on. These companies, local or national, all have similar wish lists so we work to make sure our leaders are all aware of everything on them.”
When everything goes right and a business is impressed, you will see headlines about a ribbon cutting or a groundbreaking, new jobs and services surfacing around the community, and much more. It is all the culmination of years of communication between a new investor, EDCMC, and leaders around Michigan City.
To learn more about Economic Development Corporation Michigan City, visit edcmc.com.