10/17/2013 3:00:00 PM County's EDC earns National Honor
The Switzerland County Economic Development Corporation has announced that it has received the "Excellence in Economic Development Gold Award" for its ongoing workforce skills initiative.
The award, presented by the International Economic Development Council, honors the best program in North America in the category of Human Capital for small communities.
"The Excellence in Economic Development Awards recognize Switzerland County Economic Development Corporation as being one of the leading organizations in the industry for innovation, creativity and successful strategies," said Paul Krutko, International Economic Development Council chair. "These awards are meant to honor the organizations and individuals who are dedicated to making a positive change in their communities."
For some communities, local workforce data is a strong selling point to investing businesses. In others, however, data reveals critical issues that can offset other advantages a community offers to business prospects.
"In Switzerland County, we realized we could not effectively negotiate with prospects demanding a pipeline of skilled workers until we had constructed that pipeline for them," said Jon Bond, President of Switzerland County Economic Development Corporation.
In 2008, as participants in a Lilly Endowment-funded regional initiative to raise the educational attainment and earnings of Southeast Indiana residents, the Switzerland County Economic Development Corporation looked at the workforce demands of regional employers, and compared the results to the available workforce data.
"Those results made it clear that we had to do things differently," Jon Bond said.
Five years later, Switzerland County Economic Development Corporation's EcO15 initiative assists residents seeking the necessary skills to enter, re-enter or re-position themselves in the workforce. Its approach focuses on people, not programs, and measures success one person at a time.
The Switzerland County Economic Development Corporation works to eliminate barriers to success and to provide options that will meet individual needs county residents seeking to improve their skills.
The Switzerland County Technology and Education Center is the cornerstone of the EcO15 program. Completed in 2012, the multi-use facility features classrooms and labs for adult educational opportunities. The EcO15 effort also created an advanced manufacturing lab at Switzerland County High School, and initiated a focus on STEM education.
Switzerland County residents now receive frequent, regular messages on the importance of upgrading their workplace skills to remain competitive in today's economy.
Paul Krutko commended the organization's creative solutions and inventive ideas, saying, "The award represents an acknowledgment and appreciation for Switzerland Economic Development Corporation's dedication to continuous growth within itself, as well as improving the industry overall."
With over 4,500 members belonging to the IEDC, being named the best in North America is an honor for Switzerland County. But what does this award and workforce initiative mean for the people of Switzerland County? The project has been under development since 2009 and there is still much more to come. Here are some examples of what has been accomplished to date:
- Furnished Advanced Manufacturing lab at Switzerland County High School.
- Trained 28 Switzerland County School Corporation teachers in Project-Based Learning techniques.
- Partnered with Switzerland County government, Purdue Cooperative Extension Service, and the Emergency Management agency to construct the Switzerland County Technology and Education Center.