Development Center unveils new office on Ivy Tech campus

Monday, March 22, 2021
Leading a tour of the new Greencastle/Putnam County Development Center office, Assistant Director Tami VanRensselaer (right) shows off the new meeting room to Development Center board member and City Councilor Stacie Langdon Friday afternoon. Having made its home downtown since the 1980s, the Development Center recently moved its office to the campus of Ivy Tech Greencastle.

When the Greencastle/Putnam County Development Center began looking for a new home for the first time more than 30 years, it seemed natural that it would stay downtown.

The Development Center had made its home at the Partnership Center — also home to the Putnam County Community Foundation and, at times, the Putnam County Chamber and the Putnam County Convention and Visitors Bureau — since 1986.

So when the Foundation, which owns the building, notified Economic Development Director Kristin Clary that it needed the additional office space, at 2 S. Jackson St., she naturally looked elsewhere downtown for a new work home for herself and Assistant Director Tami VanRensselaer.

Then Clary got a call from Treg Hopkins, Ivy Tech Greencastle site director and Development Center Board member, to look at the office space on the second floor of his campus.

What Clary and VanRensselaer found impressed them — an five-room suite once occupied by former vice chancellor Greg Cook. Hopkins was simply not using it anymore, feeling his office should be on the first floor near the entrance.

The Development Center now has a reception area, an office for Clary, an office for Van Rensselaer should she need to work away from the front desk, an extra office and a meeting room.

And while the location just off of Zinc Mill Road and Veterans Highway may not be near downtown, it is closer to most of the city’s industry on the East Side.

It’s also a chance for potential employers to see the community college that could provide them with well-trained workers.

“I think it’s unique to have the college partner with economic development,” Hopkins said.

While Clary and VanRensselaer have been in their new location for about a month, they had the chance to show it off a bit more on Friday, when they hosted their first board meeting at the new location, in the college’s library.

It was the first in-person board meeting since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“It’s been a year that we’ve been planted in our own worlds, so it’s nice to see everybody,” Clary said.

On that note, a large portion of the meeting was simply updates from the gathered board members — What has the last year been like? How has COVID affected business?

It was also an update from the Development Center itself.

“Just because of COVID, we didn’t fall off the map,” Board President Michael Clampitt said.

One major victory for the Center has been the ongoing success of the USDA Revolving Loan Fund Program.

Initially funded by a $60,000 grant from the USDA that was matched by $25,000 in local funds, the fund has since grown by $60,000 ($45,000 in federal money and $15,000 in local) to a total of $175,000.

The program is designed for small businesses looking to grow even when a loan is not available through a traditional financial institution.

A small business, in this case, is considered to be one with 50 or fewer employees and less than $1,000,000 in sales.

Clary noted that 14 local business have utilized the program, with a 15th recently approved.

“It’s constantly being paid back and loaned back out,” she told the Banner Graphic.

The being paid back part has made the Putnam County program stand out especially. Clampitt noted other communities have inquired what Putnam County is doing right, as there have been zero delinquencies in the local program.

“It’s all about your loan review board,” Clampitt said. “Two of our businesses are not even in business anymore, but we’ve still had zero delinquencies.”

With the success of the program, the Development Center is looking for further growth, with the board approving a resolution to apply for another $73,926 in USDA funds, which will be matched by $25,974 in local funds for a total of $99,000 on top of the pool already being utilized.

While that process is not yet complete, Clary encourages local small businesses to apply. The program offers three percent interest over five years.

“We do have funds, so if any small business is looking for a loan, please come see us,” Clary said.

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