This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Out to lunch

On Wednesday the JECDO hosted a briefing and luncheon. I was surprised at how many people I did not know, but then learned that many of them were from surrounding towns and counties.

The President of SJC spoke briefly. The College is preparing a strategic plan and it will be heavily dependent on outside people. The goal is to present the plan to to the Board of Trustees in February and use it to kick off a capital campaign.

Kevin Kelly said that JECDO's annual report would be released online in the next week or two. He mentioned a few highlights: a dairy feed mix plant by Belstra Milling, robotic dairies by Bos Dairy (I believe two more robotic dairies will be discussed on Monday evening at the Jasper County BZA meeting), the new Comfort Suites, expansion underway by National Gypsum, and expansion completed by Remington Seeds.

The main speaker was Jim Shellinger, head of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (which, despite its name, is part of the State government). Shellinger's job is to sell Indiana and judging from his performance at the luncheon, he is very good at it. He rattled off some of the advantages of doing business in Indiana--its is a transportation crossroads, has low taxes, low regulation, low workers' compensation insurance rates, a balanced state budget, and a triple A credit rating. He also mentioned some challenges, which is a nice way of saying weaknesses. Although Indiana has a very strong manufacturing and agricultural base, these sectors are not likely to see high growth in the future. The skills of the labor force do not match up well with those sectors that are likely to see strong growth, so workforce development is a challenge. The other item he mentioned is that though Indiana has been able to attract new business, it is less successful in attracting talented people, or in his words, it needs to become a destination for talent.

Speaking of new businesses, I recently noticed some kittens in a window on 
Washington Street, in the narrow building between Gutwein Seeds and Consolidated Insurance. The business going in there is Bloomtique, which will sell refinished or repainted furniture. Although the business is not open yet, it has a Facebook page with several hundred likes.
A new dance studio is going into the third floor above Unique Finds. The dance studio that opened there last year is gone.

Across the highway, there are new planters decorating two of what used to be entrances to the Court House. This is a bicentennial project that was approved in the July Commissioners meeting.
Today was a busy day at the construction site of the high rate treatment plant as a steady stream of cement trucks arrived to support another pour of concrete.
Work has also begun on some kind of structure next to the river. It is part of the same project. The bottom of the pit is below the water level of the river.
I missed the RCHS homecoming parade--I had another commitment. I expected to see more pictures on Facebook, but perhaps because it was dark, most of them did not turn out well.

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