LPC OCED highlights how keeping people in the center of Economic Development pays big dividends

LPC OCED highlights how keeping people in the center of Economic Development pays big dividends
By: Aubrey Thomson, Contributor Last Updated: August 11, 2022

Helping existing companies expand, creates local jobs and that increase in new jobs creates more demand for new housing these are just two examples of the work La Porte County Office of Community & Economic Development (LPC OCED) does for the area, but it certainly is not all that it does to enhance the quality of life for La Porte Countians. Tony Rodriguez, EDFP., director of LPC OCED, is proud to be part of a “dream team” and pours his experience in economic development into bettering La Porte County.

“The field of economic development is only executed efficiently when the local community defines what it wants to achieve,” Rodriguez said. “We know that La Porte County will benefit immensely by having additional and high wage-paying jobs and by diversifying the tax base as well. Our objective is to move the needle significantly by attracting capital investment that diversifies our tax base and also differentiates and broadens our employment base, making us a healthier, growing community that will continue to improve the quality of life for all”

“We're laser-focused on attracting the capital investment and jobs that are going to raise the bar, raise that income level, and offer exceptional health care benefits,” he continued. “When we succeed and the elected officials make that announcement of a significant new project, it change people's lives for the better.”

Between the month of January and June of this year the LPC OCED directly assisted five companies that expanded manufacturing operations here in La Porte County creating more than 73 new permanent fulltime jobs and invested $20.25 million dollars into their individual plants thus expanding La Porte Counties economic base. This could not have been possible without the direct support and unanimous approval of the La Porte County Council. Every project LPC OCED shepherd requires the support of a team here in La Porte County and we serve as that teams’ quarterback.

Among the many projects LPC OCED is currently working on, one that has the staff particularly excited is the Kingsbury Industrial Park. The La Porte County Redevelopment Commission is leading in this regard. LPC OCED is positioning this shovel ready park for the perfect home for Electronic Vehicle Assembly and Electronic Vehicle Component Manufacturing, as the demand right now is truly robust.

“We believe the three tier-one railroads that serve the Kingsbury Industrial Park offer an exceptional greater Midwestern attractiveness to these industries that want to be in the perfect location,” Rodriguez said. “If you have access to three tier-one railroads at one location, you have a significant opportunity to be served on many fronts by multiple vendors. Abundant redundancy is always a winning solution no matter what industry you're working in. Three tier-one railroads available in one location is almost unheard of in site selection.”

Since 2021, LPC OCED has worked with 48 site submissions with a capital investment of $28.8716 billion between January 2021 and April 2022.

The staff at LPC OCED spends a portion of its time responding to high quality leads forwarded from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, a key strategic partner with very detailed supporting information that site selectors need to complete their site selection. By the time LPC OCED is short listed for investment it is critical the company is shovel-ready when that prospective business arrives. While there may be other businesses working toward similar ends in La Porte, Rodriguez shared that no one is doing it at the same pace as LPC OCED. Rodriguez credits a strong team for this impressive pace.

Bailey McGrath, community development specialist for LPC OCED, can attest to the quality of this team through her own experience of joining the team.

“Since having joined this Community and Economic Development team I am excited to dive right into working with professionals that know Economic Development so intimately. I have realized how important a cohesive team that works together is to assure that we present LaPorte County accurately to the outside business community but agreed that first and foremost its taking care of our existing business, first,” McGrath said.

In addition to a solid team, what makes LPC OCED successful is its focus on what is most important in La Porte County: the people who live and work there.

“While we do work with government officials on a daily basis, we work for the people and their businesses and we do this as a team. This Office of Community and Economic Development focuses everyday on people preparing La Porte County for a better tomorrow. I know this sounds cliché but It truly is very easy to remain positive when we are promoting La Porte County to the world with a strong team like the one we have in place. Rodriguez said. “We work for the citizens and businesses of La Porte County, and that is very rewarding.”

For more information about La Porte County Office of Community & Economic Development, visit its website or call (219) 809-5733.