Business is booming in Boone County

Boone County Economic Development Executive Director Molly Whitehead discusses the growth of Boone County and its future.

Posted on Sep 27 2019 in Boone REMC
Boone County Economic Development Executive Director Molly Whitehead

Our people and our geographic location are Boone County’s best attributes.  We’re located in the middle of two metropolitan areas, which provides us with a large and diverse workforce pool.  We have highly trained individuals in a variety of careers, from information technology and finance to manufacturing and logistics.  Logistically, I-65 and I-74 make it easy to access major markets like Indianapolis and Chicago to move products efficiently.  

In your opinion, what is the most staggering statistic when it comes to economic growth in Boone County? 

As of a few years ago, approximately 80% of our workforce left Boone County each day to go work in another community.  This statistic alone changed our economic development strategy.  In response, we conducted an industry analysis to determine what sort of industries would be best to attract in Boone County.  We considered factors such as the industries’ average wages, barriers to entry, and how susceptible to a recession that industry might be.  From there, we narrowed our focus to certain types of manufacturers, IT, and office/finance industries and have been much more intentional about telling our story and becoming more aggressive in attracting companies that fit those descriptors, because we know we have the qualified workforce here that could fill jobs right in their own backyard.

What is your vision for Boone County’s economic future?  

I envision Boone County will be a place that is attractive for a variety of industries to thrive.  Growth is inevitable, however, I hope we do it in a smart way and are respectful of our rich agricultural heritage at the same time.

Can you identify a turning point in Boone County’s economic history or a moment when things really started to change?  

Boone County had already started to change in those first few years after the last recession ended and before my tenure, so I commend our public and private partners, past and present, for making wise decisions and creating a great canvas where economic development could thrive.  There are a few moments from the last five years that I am particularly proud of – understanding this is a team effort, of course.  The first was our marketing campaign several years ago branding Boone County as a “beer desert.”  It was this off-the-wall, very cost-effective campaign my team dreamed of and it worked – we attracted Boone County’s first two microbreweries as a result.  The second big turning point for us was when we landed our first big deal with a non-traditional tax incentive.  It gave us the confidence to negotiate a bit harder on other big deals in the future and to ensure our local taxpayers got a great return.