The Community Improvement Corp. of Henry County had a productive year in 2013, according to Executive Director Rob McColley, and for the upcoming year, the organization hopes to work with an economic development agency on a plan for the county.

The Community Improvement Corp. of Henry County had a productive year in 2013, according to Executive Director Rob McColley, and for the upcoming year, the organization hopes to work with an economic development agency on a plan for the county.

McColley said key accomplishments by the CIC for 2013 included directly assisting in projects that are estimated to bring in $13.642 million in capital investment and over 150 new jobs. Those projects include:

•AP Alternatives, $1,087,780 in capital investments and 39 new jobs. AP Alternatives was accomplished through a Revolving Loan Fund and a regional 166 loan.

•MWA Enterprise, Ltd., $1,394,533 in capital investments and 25 new jobs. This project was accomplished through an RLF and Community Reinvestment agreement the CIC helped them obtain.

•Brick N’ Brew Pub, $160,000 and 10 full-time jobs. This was accomplished through a Napoleon Infrastructure/Economic Development loan and grant.

•Graminex, $6.5 million in capital investment and 60 new jobs. The CIC helped the company to obtain an enterprise zone agreement in order to make this expansion possible.

•Keller Packaging of Napoleon, Inc., $4.5 million in capital investment and 15 new jobs. The CIC helped the company to obtain an enterprise zone agreement for expansion.

“It’s very encouraging that these projects have come to fruition, and it tells us that local businesses are becoming more optimistic about the state of the economy and about the state of their workforce to the point where they’re ready, willing and able to make these types of investments,” McColley said.

But one of the key accomplishments for the organization was a collaboration between manufacturing plants, higher education and local schools during a bus tour to local plants on National Manufacturing Day. The purpose of the tour was for guidance counselors to learn about the opportunities in the field.

“Even though we have assisted in some deals that will bring some major employment into the area - and those are deals that we are very proud of - the biggest accomplishment would be the work we’ve done with Northwest State and the U.S. 6 Manufacturer’s Roundtable,” McColley said. “It’s work that we really needed to take an active stance on, something that we can’t wait for somebody to come in and do it for us.”

McColley stressed that workforce development must be a top priority in the future.

“It is essential to not only creating opportunities for our youth, but it’s also essential for making sure our businesses are able to remain here and remain prosperous here,” he said.

For 2014, the CIC will be working with Reveille Ltd., an economic development company from Bowling Green to complete economic development plans for Henry County.

“The plan is really going to be focused on building infrastructure and it’s going to be focused on building those pieces necessary to make sure when the time comes, for economic expansion, that we are ready,” McColley explained, adding items that need to be looked at include community beautification to physical infrastructure to street planning.

During the first steps of the project, Glenn Grisdale and Tom Blaha of Reveille will be drafting goals and objectives for economic development based on survey responses from county stakeholders. The two will then be working with a planning committee to identify which target areas to begin focusing.

McColley, Board President Ron Ernsberger, Napoleon Mayor Ron Behm, Greg Beck, Henry County Commissioner Glenn Miller and Nancy Stehulak will sit on a planning committee with Reveille.

E-mail comments to allison@northwestsignal.net .