By David Hazledine
MILFORD – Milford Town Council welcomed two visitors to its monthly meeting held on March 14. Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation CEO Alan Tio provided a brief overview of KEDCO’s operations and introduced Amy Roe, Kosciusko County’s new Community Coordinator.
Roe’s position came after the county received a $1 million grant through the Indiana Bureau of Community and Rural Affairs’ new Hoosier Enduring Legacy program. His role will be to help communities improve using funds from the American Rescue Plan Act.
According to Tio, Kosciusko County is one of the first communities in the state to receive the program’s first round of grants because, he said, “we were ready,” and he cited the Hometown Cats, which were particularly well attended in Milford, and the resulting Forward Kosciusko Global Plan as contributing factors.
Tio also spoke of KEDCO’s role as a “single point of contact” for businesses and organizations to make the county “as competitive as possible.”
KEDCO worked with Milford on a housing initiative to bring affordable workforce housing to the area, an effort that Tio maintained was “further ahead than any other community in the county”.
The initiative, he explained, could alleviate employer retention issues related to workers who have to commute from too far away.
Councilman Ken Long asked Tio what KEDCO does to retain young talent. “Children and grandchildren are leaving the region,” he commented, attracted by the big cities.
Tio highlighted the role social media can play in retention; for example, KEDCO has developed an online job board for Kosciusko County. KEDCO also hosts a monthly get-together to help diversify networking opportunities for newcomers to the region.
Board Chairman Doug Ruch asked Tio if he had visited Bison Manufacturing, which has several vacant buildings and is used as an RV staging area. “It would be nice to have something more in there.”
Tio said the discussion had started; however, he drew attention to Milford’s TIF Industrial Districts, which he called “the premier site for development in the county”.
Roe, who is from Rochester and attended Grace College, briefly explained how her previous work experience in other states has provided her with a skill set she hopes to put to good use in Kosciusko County.
“I know what small towns struggle with,” she said, adding that it’s a “good sign” that Kosciusko County’s comprehensive plan initiative allows small communities such as Milford to participate individually.
Milford is one of four towns in the county, along with Mentone, Etna Green and Pierceton, that are taking part in HELP, she said, and she expressed her gratitude to the town for “being brave enough to take part…this will be an adventure together. ”