Jenilee Haynes Peterson is, without a doubt, passionate about her position with the Economic Development Corporation of Michigan City (EDCMC).
“I fell in love with the business world,” Haynes Peterson said. “I worked at several restaurants while going through college, eventually getting into operations management. That was really what got me excited about business, financials, and just working with businesses and seeing the behind-the-scenes of how they work.”
Serving as Economic Development Manager at EDCMC since the beginning of 2019, Haynes Peterson previously worked in finance and accounting for the Duneland Chamber of Commerce. A Michigan City native, she attended Purdue, where she majored in public health. She has also lived in Chicago and Washington D.C.
Haynes Peterson now lives in Michigan City with her husband and daughter. She said she became interested in working with EDCMC after moving back to the area from Chicago a few years ago.
“I had been following the progress that EDCMC was making, so when I saw that a position opened up, I felt it would be a perfect fit for me. I’m really passionate about bringing everyone up, and this job puts me in a position to help my neighbors get the skills needed to find higher-paying jobs, and to bring those jobs here to Michigan City,” she said. “We work in conjunction with local employers and schools like Ivy Tech to help workers get the skills they need to advance their careers.”
She added, “There are lots of jobs here—what we need, what employers need, are people with the right skills to fill those positions.”
Haynes Peterson is particularly passionate about the sociological effects of public health in the community.
“When you’re looking at any underserved community, and trying to determine their public health needs, education is almost always the component that is missing,” she said. “When you put education in the hands of residents in any community, you empower them to be successful.”
Haynes Peterson is excited about recent developments in the city and the direction the area is moving in—especially the future plaza project, which will provide a welcoming, family-friendly, and open space for residents to enjoy with their families.
“One of the things I love is to have a place where I can just go out in public and be around other people, a place where maybe I can bring a book and read, or maybe sit outside and eat my lunch,” she said. “I think that having a plaza right here is important to help develop a stronger sense of community in Michigan City.”
Haynes Peterson also is looking forward to the upcoming South Shore Double Track Project and the opportunities it will provide.
“[The South Shore Double Track] will bring more people into town. That will increase our tax base, which will, in turn, allow us to provide more and better social services to the area,” she said.
She feels that transportation is one key area necessary for the success of Michigan City.
“One of the things I often hear is that employees here might not have transportation to get to work. If we have more people paying into the fund for transportation, that could potentially allow us to increase the bus schedules and improve local transportation in the area,” she said. “That’s something that is on our radar here at the EDCMC. Increasing the tax base here will help us work towards improving the overall quality of life here in the area.”
Haynes Peterson said that one of the things she likes best about her job is the ability to connect with social services.
“There are a lot of programs offered right here that many residents don’t know about. Part of my personal mission is to get the word out about those programs,” she said.
“Affordable housing, for example,” Haynes Peterson continued. “If you’re looking to purchase a home, there are programs in place to help with that. There are so many options out there, such as the Housing Authority here in Michigan City, which deals with HUD and vouchers, and works with a housing manager who focuses on providing services for those looking to purchase a home.”
EDCMC seeks to ensure the long-term success of Michigan City through developing a robust business environment, along with a modern public infrastructure and a stable tax base. EDCMC works to develop and implement seamless policies, procedures, and programs for economic and community development that drive systemic and long-term viability for the city.
“We’re here not to make sure that people are doing their jobs, but to make sure that someone is doing the job,” she said.
She cited the city’s Home Team, the Michigan City Salvation Army, Boys & Girls Club of Michigan City, and Safe Harbor as just a few resources shaping the community.
“I’m excited that so many people are beginning to see just how great Michigan City really is, and how much this area has to offer,” Haynes Peterson said. “I’m excited for my family to be part of this progress and economic future of my community.”
For more information about the EDCMC, visit them online at https://www.edcmc.com/.