Monday, May 19, 2008

EDC Hires Existing Industry Manager

Sharla Austin-Darnell has been hired as the new Existing Industry Manager at the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp. Prior to coming to EDC, Austin-Darnell served as the Existing Industry Manager at the Madisonville-Hopkins County Economic Development Corp., where she served as the Interim-President since February. Prior to working in economic development, she has served as the Executive Director for the Madisonville-Hopkins County Convention and Visitors Bureau. She has a bachelor’s degree from Murray State University and is currently working toward a master’s degree at Murray State.

"Sharla brings several years of experience in working with existing businesses and has run a quality program in Madisonville," said EDC President/ CEO Nick Brake. "She has worked closely with the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development and understands many of the issues that impact economic development. She will fit in well with the existing team at the EDC."

Madison Silvert will assume the title of Executive Vice President while continuing to serve as the director of the Emerging Ventures Center and coordinating EDC efforts in high tech development and entrepreneurship. Becky McCubbins will continue to work with marketing and new business development and assume the title of New Business Development Manager.

Jennifer Wright, the EDC Executive Vice President, who handled the existing industry program since November 2007, is relocating to Savannah, GA, where her husband has accepted a job.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

EDC a Partner in the 26-County Regional Economic Summit

EVANSVILLE, IN– The Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp. will join business and government leaders from Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky in Evansville on November 20 and 21, 2008 to study the new economic model of future growth. The 2008 Regional Economic Summit will feature nationally-recognized business experts and economists who will discuss the current economic climate and realities facing a 26-county region, as well as outline the steps necessary for prosperity, wealth creation, and economic vitality in the 21st Century.

"Our global environment requires us to think regionally to be competitive in the future," said EDC President/CEO Nick Brake, a member of the steering committee.

“Each community in our three-state region faces the same economic realities,” said Kevin Sheilley, President & CEO of Northwest Kentucky Forward, a public-private economic development partnership that serves Henderson, McLean, Union and Webster counties. “We share a common workforce and have identical infrastructure challenges, and we believe it is possible to develop solutions which can be replicated in each state.”

Kicking off the summit is Rich Karlgaard, publisher of Forbes – the world’s most popular business and financial magazine. Karlgaard writes Digital Rules, a regular Forbes column, which discusses technology, entrepreneurship, regional and economic development, and the future of business and work. He frequently guests on the Fox News Channel’s Forbes on Fox and has written a Wall Street Journal best seller – Life 2.0 How People Across America Are Transforming Their Lives by Finding the Where of Their Happiness.

University economists from each state led by Dr. Mohamed Khayum, Dean of the College of Business at the University of Southern Indiana, are collaborating to develop a regional economic model which will establish the foundation where opportunities for the 26-county region will be identified.

“Evidence suggests that the significance of previous drivers of economic growth such as natural resources and physical capital is being replaced by human creativity and that creativity propels economic growth,” stated Dr. Khayum.

Attendees will have the opportunity during the two-day summit to participate in general and break-out sessions dealing with entrepreneurialism, regional collaboration, building stronger economic development strategies, and alignment to the emerging world economy. The final summit agenda is being developed in cooperation with regional advisory councils from each state.

Founding sponsors for the 2008 Regional Economic Summit are Old National Bank and Regency Properties. Lead sponsors of the event are the Richland County Development Corporation (IL), Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation (KY), Northwest Kentucky Forward (KY), Chamber of Commerce of Southwest Indiana (IN), and the Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana (IN).

For registration and more information about the 2008 Regional Economic Summit log onto or call 812-463-6102.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

EDC, Learning Community Form Partnership for P-16 Council

The Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp. and The Learning Community have formed a partnership for continued support of the Regional Alliance for Education, the Owensboro area P-16 Council.

The Regional Alliance, which brings together leadership from area school systems, colleges, universities, early childhood, adult education, and workforce development with representatives from the business community each quarter, is one of the first and most active P-16 Councils (preschool through college/ grade 16) recognized by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education.

Helen Mountjoy, former Executive Vice President of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp. served as the Executive Director of the Regional Alliance until departing for Frankfort in December to serve as Secretary of the Education Cabinet for Governor Beshear. Dr. Fred Reeves served as the Interim Executive Director from January until May.

Tracy Marksberry, the Executive Director of The Learning Community will oversee all Regional Alliance programming with financial support from the EDC under the new partnership.

The EDC and Learning Community will advance a plan of work for Regional Alliance programs that will be released in more detail later in the year. The agenda will focus on the following three broad areas:

  1. Building a strong foundation through early childhood education and literacy initiatives such as the Imagination Library;

  2. Preparing high school students for 21st century success with emphasis on increased access and improved preparation for postsecondary education;

  3. Developing a 21st century workforce, emphasizing life-long learning, internship programs, and increased opportunities for students to earn bachelor's and graduate degrees in Owensboro.

"Nearly all jobs of the future will require some postsecondary education," said EDC President/CEO Nick Brake. "The EDC, the Learning Community, and the Regional Alliance for Education will take the lead to champion higher education attainment by providing a consistent, unified voice to promote these goals and by supporting and implementing strategies for our region to GO-Higher"

The Learning Community is a grass-roots initiative to increase educational opportunities for residents of the region. The office is located at the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp. Watch the Learning Community video here.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Nadira Hira speaks about Gen Y challenges in the Owensboro region

This week the Green River Workforce Investment Board (WIB) hosted a luncheon, co-sponsored by GO-EDC, featuring Nadira Hira speaking on the Generation Y workforce. Hira is an award-winning journalist and general assignment writer at Fortune Magazine, where she has focused increasingly on stories for and about Generation Y, the fastest growing segment of the American workforce.

Generation Y refers to individuals born between 1978 and 1994. In the next several years, they are expected to outnumber all other segments of the workforce. The retirement of the boomer generation, which officially began this year, will trigger a worker shortage that Generation X, which comes behind the Boomers, will be unable to fill. Businesses are realizing that they may have no choice but to accommodate the unique and curious aspects of the Gen Y creatures.

Hira spoke to the audience about many of the challenges that businesses face in recruiting, retaining, and supervising this important demographic group. Her blog at is full of the same points. Members of Gen Y are looking for meaningful work; they are particularly influenced by technology which often makes them more productive than their predecessors despite the fact that they spend less time working in a traditional office setting.

It struck me, as I looked around the room how evident the need to reach out as a region to this group-- the community in general is not connecting with Gen Y.

Greater Owensboro has an opportunity to correct this with a couple of key steps. The first step is to conduct a real evaluation of the strengths and values of the community relative to the Gen Y group. The current branding campaign is an opportunity for the region to appeal to the Gen Y audience as an authentic community providing meaningful work and meaningful play.

Secondly, the region should have a plan to become a destination for Generation Y. This is where the overall strategy to attract people with attractive places, known as place making, come in to play (click here for more information). Lastly, the community must figure out how to engage this younger generation as community leaders. Not only will Gen Y fill a majority of the jobs in the workforce, they will be assuming leadership roles in corporations and communities much sooner than their predecessors.
The last step is a missing link. The Chamber Young Professionals is an active group of Generation Y members which could play a key role in shaping this for future of their generation and the vitality of the region. Are we ready to pass the torch?

Please visit the following links to read more about Nadira Hira: