In the first quarter of 2020, the Boone EDC was gearing up for another year of new initiatives to help both existing businesses and new businesses in our community. Then, COVID-19 occurred and our daily strategies have transitioned to meet the ever-changing challenges that come with times of crisis.
Thanks to the webinar series sponsored and hosted by Indiana Municipal Power Agency, the Boone EDC has virtually met with several site consultants to listen to their economic outlooks as a result of COVID-19. During these sessions, several points have surfaced as the world navigates these uncertain times.
Business retention remains at the forefront of discussion. How do we, as economic developers, assist businesses who are currently in our community?
- To help with Boone County’s hardest-hit small businesses, the Boone EDC created the Boone County Small Business Economic Relief Fund, a loan and advisory program with a choice of two different loan terms of up to $5,000 to be used for any working or non-working capital expense.
- For our industrial partners, we created a COVID-19 business resources page on our website, which explains the local, regional, and state-level assistant programs and learning opportunities for Boone County employers, employees, and residents.
Our employment situation has wholly reversed as compared to Q4 2019. What talent strategy do economic development organizations have to help their local workforce and employers for the next six months to two years?
- Helping the workforce immediately, we are capitalizing on our WorkinBoone.com infrastructure, Boone County’s only job board, to specifically recognize businesses that are hiring during the COVID-19 crisis.
- Looking forward, we will utilize the Boone County Workforce Alliance, a partnership with the Boone County Chamber which is inclusive of local business and community leaders who actively address workforce issues, to create new programs that will assist local employers and the new labor market. We foresee transferrable skills as a major emphasis on these strategies as employees navigate towards industries that remained essential during COVID-19.
- We have a goal of completing 65 Business Retention & Expansion (BR&E) visits annually, so during this time, we are launching virtual BR&E visits with our local businesses, small and large. This will enable us to talk with them again about their immediate needs and anticipate their future needs and challenges (e.g. education, immediate hiring needs).
Supply chain opportunities and industry clusters will continue market opportunities.
- Currently, we have industry clusters of manufacturers in food, pharmaceuticals, and cardboard box corrugation in addition to distribution and logistics companies.
- As we continue to market our landscape, the Boone EDC will be creating a local industry network amongst our current primary employers to help new and existing companies utilize the industry synergies we have locally. Stay tuned for more details later in 2020.