Katie Eaton, Economic Development Director at the Economic Development Corporation of Michigan City (EDCMC), is coming up on her first year since joining the organization in 2016. Eaton, and the EDCMC, has had a tremendous impact in driving economic development over the past year and they’re well-positioned to continue that mission into the future.
We recently caught up with Eaton who spoke about that mission, the challenges, and the successes that she’s experienced in her first year with the organization.
“In this role, you’ve really got to know a little bit about a lot of different things,” Eaton said. “I’ve been here for coming up on a year and I’m still learning something new every day about ways in which we can attract and retain businesses, and promote development here in the city.”
Economic development encompasses an incredibly broad range of industries and sectors across the city and, for Eaton, better understanding things taxes and real estate allows the organization to make an impact on the prosperity and economic well-being of Michigan City.
“Understanding education and workforce development, which I had done in the past, I would say is one of my strong suits,” said Eaton. “Before coming into this role I had done workforce development for a few years but not to the extent of getting all of the right people in a room to understand an employer’s needs.”
“It can be quite difficult and time consuming, and not just looking at K-12 education, but also higher education, community colleges, and training programs. We’re thinking about things like, ‘What are the right certificates that employers need, how do we make sure those are being offered, and how do we get the curriculum to meet with employers’ expectations?’”
Education is the perfect example of the role that Eaton, and the EDCMC, plays in promoting growth in Michigan City. While they’re not directly educating the future workforce, they are facilitating their education in an effort to build employment and provide companies with enough skilled workers to maintain or expand their operations.
As the EDCMC’s Economic Development Manager, Eaton works a lot on marketing Michigan City to companies near and far in an effort to attract them to establish operations in the city.
“I knew a big piece of economic development is being a strong cheerleader and supporter of your community, and not just for those who live here but for anyone living outside of the city who might be thinking about relocating here,” Eaton reflected. “You have to constantly talk about all of the great things going on and there are a lot of great things going on in Michigan City so that hasn’t been one of the bigger challenges.”
“I’m a lifelong learner so being in a role where I constantly get to explore new ideas and concepts, and meet with employers to learn about what they do, and how they make great things here in Michigan City is really exciting.”
Promoting and facilitating personal growth and development has also been a bright spot for Eaton. In the interest of always learning new things to make the EDCMC successful in their efforts, the organization takes advantage of all the tools that are out there to help their mission.
“One of the great things about this field is that there are a lot of professional development opportunities and I’ve been fortunate that Clarence (Hulse) has allowed us to participate in webinars and conferences so that we can learn about new concepts and best practices that are out there which other communities and organizations are using.”
For Eaton, working towards prosperity and increasing the quality of life in her own hometown is something she feels very passionate about.
“Michigan City is my hometown,” Eaton said. “I was born and raised here, and I’ve always been a big supporter of Michigan City. This community has made me who I am today. Being in a role where I know the work that I’m doing makes an impact on my community is so rewarding. I am very proud of all that has happened in Michigan City and I am excited about where this community is headed.”
“With all of the good things that are happening in Michigan City, it’s eye opening to see and think about where this city can go,” she concluded. “It’s exciting and to be able to share that story with others is really great.”