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IN-Person Report: Economic Development Course

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Sessions include:

  • Economic development organization management
  • Professional ethics
  • Marketing and business attraction
  • Strategic planning
  • Profiling and analyzing local economies
  • Workforce development
  • Finance tools and strategies for economic development
  • Business retention and expansion
  • Community and neighborhood development
  • Site selection, presented by a professional site selector
  • Real estate development and reuse
  • Small business and entrepreneurship development

This year, NIPSCO sponsored Denise Hoke, the office manager for the Economic Development Corporation of Elkhart County, to attend. ED Impact spoke with Hoke about her experience:

ED Impact: What was the course like?

Hoke: It was an intense conference. We had new speakers or segments about every two hours. We covered all a wide variety of topics, but what was really great was the focus on discussion rather than just listening to lecturers. That allowed our discussions to take on much greater depth.

ED Impact: What were the two biggest lessons you learned?

Hoke: One thing I learned was the importance of really being knowledgeable about the community you serve. During site selector or company visits, you have to know what you’re talking about if you’re going to be able to determine whether or not they are a good fit, and then help them see that themselves. I also learned about all that goes into economic development, and that there are different types and ways of going about it, and a bit about what those are and what they are useful for in different situations.

ED Impact: Who was your favorite speaker, what did he or she talk about?

Hoke: There were a great number of speakers, but the session with Scott Truex stood out to me the most. He is an associate professor in the college of architecture and planning who specializes in community design and sustainable development practices, and he shared a lot of his ideas and research on those topics with us.

ED Impact: Was the course also a good networking opportunity for you and your organization?

Hoke: Of all the people there, I had only met one other person in the class prior to the course. A few others I had spoken with on the phone, but this allowed us to meet face to face. Overall this was a great opportunity to meet people from all over the state that are engaged in the same type of work as I am, and that are seeking solutions to the same types of problems my community is working on. It wasn’t just connections within Indiana, either; there were people from Seneca County, New York and Cook County, Illinois.

ED Impact: The course features a simulated site selection game. How was that for you?

Hoke: The site selection game was a really fun exercise. That’s part of what helped me realize and understand the importance of the economic development representative really knowing their community if they are going to be able to sell it when selectors or businesses are considering locating in an area.

ED Impact: In what ways did this course help you in your current role and in your career?

Hoke: This was a really great experience for me and it helped me understand more about the field I’m working in and what we need to do to continue growing. Right away there are two ways I plan on looking at improving. To make Elkhart County the premier site location for companies to locate or expand, I am looking closer at our processes and sharable information. The other way is by reexamining our quality of place to continue attracting new people to the area.

ED Impact: Would you recommend it to others in your field?

Hoke: I would recommend anyone who deals with the retention and expansion of companies, works with site selection, or even a council person should take this course.

I’d also like to thank NIPSCO for sponsoring the scholarship that allowed me to participate. As a not-for-profit organization, we do not have much money allotted for education. Thanks to the scholarship though, I was able to attend this great program.

Ball State University
Building Better Communities

Denise Hoke, Office Manager
Economic Development Corporation of Elkhart County