A new economic development agency in Lake County has raised enough money to hire its first executive director.
Cities, businesses and chambers of commerce have given $450,000 to the Lake County IN Economic Alliance, a newly formed nonprofit that hopes to coordinate economic development efforts through Lake County.
Lake County currently has more than 20 economic development agencies that chiefly represent individual cities or towns, when most Indiana counties only have one or two. A broader, less fragmented approach is needed to attract and retain jobs, LCEA board chairman Joel Gorelick said. A countywide agency, for instance, could try to keep a business in Lake County if it wanted to leave a city over some issue.
Gorelick and other business leaders, including David Lasser from Commercial In-Sites, Donald Babcock from NIPSCO and Denise Dillard from The Methodist Hospital, established the alliance in late 2013 to strengthen economic development across the county. They launched an investment campaign in April and have already received enough financial support to cover start-up costs and a director's salary for three years.
The Lake County Commissioners, Hammond, Gary, Crown Point, Whiting, Merrillville, NIPSCO, the Regional Development Co., Krieg DeVault, the Crossroads Chamber of Commerce, the Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, Commercial In-Sites and Laszio & Popp, PC all have contributed.
After the first round of fundraising, the agency will be able to hire a full-time director who will work out of chamber of commerce offices by the end of the third quarter, Gorelick said.
"We're looking for someone with experience in economic development who knows Lake County and has a high-energy level," he said. "Initially, it will be a staff of one."
The executive director will be responsible for positioning Lake County as a location of choice for new and expanding businesses, as well as leading an aggressive fundraising campaign. The agency hopes to raise another $450,000 to hire staff, including clerical and data entry workers.
"This is a great opportunity to lead the organization's growth in partnering with government, business and industry," said Lasser, who is chairing the search committee.
Interested candidates can email resumes to firstname.lastname@example.org by July 15. For more information, visit www.lcea.us.