Monday, December 21, 2009


Investors in the county’s Partnering for Progress (P4P) initiative received an update recently on the collaborative effort between the Darke County Community Improvement Corporation (CIC), The Darke County Chamber of Commerce, and the Darke County Economic Development Office. The quarterly meeting, attended by 32 community and business leaders from across the county, featured presentations from Chamber President Sharon Deschambeau, Economic Development (ED) Director Marc Saluk, and CIC President Phil Garbig.

CIC Treasurer Dennis Baker also discussed the initiative’s financial status with its investors while Investor Communications Chair Randy Gump discussed the recently completed investor survey and ran the meeting. Gump said that investor feedback was positive.

“I feel the meeting reinforced the vital private sector support essential for the continued success of the economic development program”,” remarked Gump. “The interest and commitment demonstrated by the investors… will play a critical role as Darke County recovers from the most recent economic recession”.

Also at the meeting, investors heard a recap of the initiatives major 2009 accomplishments which included the hiring of the new director, the expansion of the ED office through the addition of personnel, increased communication efforts with the investors, and the expansion of the county’s regional and state-level partnerships.

Gump says that the survey, which garnered significant participation among the investor group, was important because it helped determine the preferred method s of communication among the investors and provided insight into the group’s views on economic development in the county.

“That point, in and of itself, is vital since our sustained economic development will be greatly tied to our ability to work together and support each other’s plans and ideas,” said Saluk. “Communication, both internal and outside of the county, along with relationship building, is key to our future success.”

Saluk said that one of the main points he focused on during his presentation were that the ED office would be very responsive to investors input and inquiries and that communication would take on many forms.

“My office will communicate regularly with the group through multiple means, just depending on what’s most appropriate to the situation,” he explained. “But face-to face interaction through business visits and investor meetings will still be priority one. That’s still the best way to find out what an organization or individuals’ needs are and to also provide a setting to get feedback and input.”

Saluk added that communication with the community at-large would also be important so the public would know that the ED office is active and vital. He said this would be done through newspaper columns, press releases, radio appearances, presentations to county organizations, and more.
During Deschambeau’s presentation, she identified the chamber as the sole organization identified to meet the benchmarks of Small Business Support outlined in the P4P Initiative. In a handout that was distributed, Deschambeau indicated that progress was achieved on all Small Business Support Benchmarks during the period of 1/1/09 – 12/11/09. In particular, the DCCC is serving as the catalyst to assemble the required organizational, human and financial resources necessary to foster a small business development program which is in the “due diligence” phase.

“At the beginning of 2009, the DCCC sought assistance from Jerry Alexander the Director-Region 4, Ohio Department of Development, Small Business Development Center at Edison Community College, Piqua / Greenville. Jerry was identified as a key liaison between entrepreneurs and financial institutions in Darke County,” said Deschambeau, stressing the value of having the resources of Edison in Darke County.

2009 Benchmarks for Small Business Support included counseling 40 businesses with an anticipated 15 resulting loans. Alexander and Deschambeau collaborated to counsel 37 businesses this year and many of those businesses were Chamber members. Four loans were made totaling $924,000 and there is another $500,000 loan in process. Alexander currently has 31 clients that he considers “active” and his confidentiality code prevents him from clearly indentifying the businesses referred or the industry. Some businesses are so unique that to do so would constitute a breach.

Most of the investors’ questions focused on Baker’s budget report, which projected a Partnering for Progress 2010 budget total of $360,250. Those questions were addressed, not only by Baker, but by the entire CIC board. Major budget expenses, aside from salaries, include advertising and marketing of the county, memberships in regional coalitions, professional training, and travel for trade shows.

Businesses interested in learning more about the P4P initiative or becoming an investor, contact Jim Poeppelman at 937-448-2191.

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