County/West Central partnership may restart

Thursday, November 28, 2019
Ryan Keller

Putnam County never exactly ended its relationship with West Central Indiana Economic Development District.

However, the Putnam County Commissioners voted in in June 2018 not to approved increased funding to the non-profit that supports economic developming, transportation planning and aging and disabled services across a seven-county area.

Then in March, the commissioners opted not to support West Central at all in 2019.

In doing so, the commissioners were sending a clear message: “We don’t feel West Central is supporting Putnam County, so Putnam County is not supporting West Central.”

In the meantime, though, the commissioners and Putnam County Council still have representatives on the 31-member West Central board of directors.

The agency also has a new executive director who is vowing changes in how West Central relates to the communities.

“For a long time, I think it’s fair to say we have been taking a passive approach in our communities,” Executive Director Ryan Keller told the council. “No longer will that be the case under my watch.”

He added that he and his staff will be in places like Greencastle more than before.

“We’re trying to be proactive in all the communities that we serve,” Keller said.

“I’m glad to hear you say that,” Councilman Larry Parker said, “because what has happened in the past is anything that got done, West Central took credit for it and they didn’t do it.”

Keller said that is not the organization’s role, but rather to serve as a catalyst for starting economic and infrastructure projects and then letting the localities make them their own.

The ultimate decision on how the partnership works moving forward will be made in the next two months.

Funding will be drawn from the Economic Development Income Tax (EDIT), which the commissioners control, though the council must ultimately approved allocation of the funds.

The EDIT plan is put together in December and approved in January.

In the meantime, Keller is back on the commissioners’ agenda for their Monday, Dec. 2 meeting.

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