Burning to Passion

Zyan Miller brings electric cooperative, community development experience to WVPA

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A destructive 2019 building blaze also ignited Zyan Miller’s passion for a career building communities.

Group of people posing with a check.

Zyan Miller, third from left, poses with the recipient of a grant from the Jasper County Economic Development Organization. Miller helped create the program when she worked with the group prior to joining Wabash Valley Power Alliance.

Miller joined Wabash Valley Power Alliance in March as economic development relations specialist. It’s a position that bridges her previous professional experience as a member services representative as Jasper County REMC and community and economic development operations manager for the Jasper County Economic Development Organization. In her new role with WVPA, Miller will work with economic development organizations in northern Indiana and support electric cooperatives to develop business retention and expansion strategies.

“What I’m most excited about in this position is working with electric co-ops again and also being able to do business retention and expansion efforts for all of the communities that our member co-ops serve,” Miller said. “I’m going to have a bigger economic development footprint.”

Miller was a member services representative at Jasper County REMC in November 2019 when a fire in downtown Rensselaer, Ind., displaced more than a dozen businesses, including the local economic development office. Jasper County REMC let the economic development team use its building, and Miller got to know several employees. She learned more about their office and became intrigued about economic development.

She joined the economic development organization when one of the staff members left. She later added community development, including tourism, to her role with the local office.

“I really liked it because I could focus on community development initiatives,” Miller said. “Essentially, community development is tourism because if you develop a community where people already love to be, then you are going to bring other people in that also want to be there and spend time there.”

Zyan Miller, economic development relations specialist at WVPA.

In her Jasper County role, Miller met Rachel Huser, senior economic development manager for Wabash Valley Power.  WVPA meets with site selectors and economic development organizations in the communities served by its member electric cooperative several times and year and works with them to support business attraction, retention and growth.

“With her experience working and developing rural communities in Jasper County, Zyan will broaden the scope of services and assistance that we can provide,” Huser said. “Her background gives her a unique perspective and insight, helping the WVPA economic development team provide greater benefits to our members and their communities.”

Miller marketed local festivals and helped organize a Jasper County career fair to showcase local employers. She also co-created the Rensselaer Façade Improvement Grant, which uses funding from a local tax increment finance district to award grants for improvements to the exterior of local buildings. The program can award up to $100,000 annually.

Miller will administer WVPA’s Workforce Automation Grant program. Businesses served by WVPA member electric cooperatives can receive up to $15,000 to train employees on new software or hardware to help fulfill business needs.

“I am looking forward to watching Zyan grow and develop new programs focusing on business retention and expansion in rural Midwestern communities,” Huser said. “She will be phenomenal, and I am looking forward to watching the impact she will make.”