“In addition to the knowledge gained from sessions, there’s also the relationships that I’ll create there. It’s absolutely a fountain of opportunity for those who are looking to attend.”
Business Development Manager
Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership
In his first year as an economic developer, Jackson Long didn’t know what to expect when attending his first Economix conference in November.
He went with an open mind – and left with a new business project for the northeastern Indiana region he represents.
Wabash Valley Power Alliance sponsored Jackson and a dozen more local and regional economic developers to attend Economix in Atlanta. The conference featured presentations from site selectors, professionals who work with businesses looking to grow or expand in new locations. The conference also included time for economic developers to meet with the site selectors from a variety of industries to promote the advantages of business development in their regions, including the Midwest.
“There’s quite a bit that I learned in terms of electricity infrastructure, which had been a bit unfamiliar for me coming into the conference,” said Jackson, business development manager for the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership. “In addition to that, by meeting with site consultants, I was able to see what our strengths are as a state and a region compared to the states around us.”
Wabash Valley Power paid for the attendance of economic developers that represent cities and communities served by at least one of WVPA’s 23 member electric distribution cooperatives. WVPA’s economic development team collaborates with electric cooperative staff members and economic developers to support business growth and expansion in the communities they collectively serve. The opportunity also reflected WVPA’s commitment to the cooperative principle “Education, training, and information.”
“We try to prioritize many of the economic developers in rural communities who may not have the opportunity to attend many events throughout the year,” said Rachel Huser, senior manager of economic development for WVPA. “At Economix, they had the opportunity to network not only with us, but with site selectors at well.”
The conference included a “speed meeting” event where attendees could have seven minutes to meet with site consultants and strike up a conversation before switching tables to meet with another site selector.
“With every jump to each table there’s a chance to meet a new face and pitch a different part of your region that you haven’t pitched before,” Long said. “From there you are able to link up with those people with whom you had a good exchange, and you could go to lunch or dinner after sessions.”
Long highlighted some of northeast Indiana’s unique strengths, including the top orthopedic companies in the world with headquarters in the region. He also learned from site selectors that Indiana’s abundant water supply is a significant advantage for businesses, even when compared to nearby states. While he has attended other conferences, Economix stood out and he plans to attend in the future.
“In addition to the knowledge gained from sessions, there’s also the relationships that I’ll create there,” Long said. “It’s absolutely a fountain of opportunity for those who are looking to attend.”