The U.S. Small Business Administration selected EDC affiliate Midwest Small Business Finance as the Certified Business Development Company of the Year. EDC Director of Business Development Christian Sizemore was recently honored by Blane Canada with their Synchronist Personal Best award, one of only 17 honors for use of the Synchronist business retention system, which is recognized internationally as a leading program for assisting and tracking competitive intelligence.
The biggest news occurred even more recently, when more than two years of EDC effort helped bring a massive, $1.1 billion investment that will mean 1,600 new jobs at the Ford Plant. EDC members were leaders of a Ford 20/20 Task Force that helped develop a statewide manufacturing jobs act in 2010 and which served as a foundation for Ford’s investment.
The hope then was to replace the soon-to-end Escape SUV manufacturing with a new vehicle. The goal was to bring an investment of $400 million from Ford and ensure retention of the approximately 3,800 jobs there now. The result far exceeded that: a $1.1 billion, announcement that adds approximately 1,600 new jobs.
“That was one of the biggest economic development projects in the entire Midwest in years,” EDC Director Jim Hampton noted. “And the EDC was in the middle of it. Along with these other announcements, it’s been a good year.”
Hampton noted the 20/20 Ford Task Force included several EDC members and others who volunteered time to work with legislators and communicate the need for the new bill. The MSBF effort illustrates effective work by the small staff as well as the volunteer Board of Directors. Sizemore’s program is an example of the multi-level efforts that are always underway but often overlooked.
“The EDC has always recognized that our existing businesses are a priority,” Hampton said. “It’s great when we add a new business to Clay County, but we have many programs that focus on benefits for our existing businesses, focus on helping them remain profitable, to maintain and create jobs.”
Hampton said programs such as business retention and attraction are nothing new in Clay County, but national recognition of three areas this year was dramatic. “We work to improve every year, but these are ongoing efforts,” he concluded. “But the recognition is remarkable. What are the odds of that happening three times in one place in one year?”