Horizon Convention Center Hosts Indiana Communities Institute’s Economic Development Course

Jim Higgins is pictured during his presentation on local finance. Photo by: Mike RhodesJim Higgins is pictured during his presentation on local finance. Photo by: Mike Rhodes

By: Mike Rhodes—

Muncie, IN—Ball State’s Indiana Communities Institute held its 38th Annual Economic Development Course at the Horizon Convention Center, January 12-17th. Attendees from across the state attended the course, and learned about topics including: strategic planning, real estate redevelopment and reuse, business retention and expansion, economic development finance, TIFF districts and more.

The week-long Indiana Economic Development Course—the official “basic course” for the State of Indiana—offered intensive training in the basic concepts, methods, and strategies of economic, industrial, business, entrepreneurial, workforce, and community development. It was a comprehensive educational experience in the theory and practice of holistic approaches to building and sustaining vibrant communities.

According to Brian Blackford, project manager of the Indiana Communities Institute, 51 individuals attended the conference. The course is accredited by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). It fulfills one of the prerequisites for those who wish to take the examinations for the Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) designation. Successful completion also qualifies participants for admission to the Economic Development Institute.

Blackford said the local program is designed to connect Ball State resources to communities around the state. “We do that in a variety of ways such as sharing expertise, sharing research, helping to drive policy discussions and ways to put “community” first. We have a sister agency at Ball State called the Office of Community Engagement, and often they will take on local initiatives in Muncie and Delaware County.”

“Since this is a basic introductory course, most attendees have been at their job for one year or less,” Blackford said. “Most attendees typically represent smaller rural areas. 20 percent of our attendees are local economic development people, and the rest are elected officials, chamber representatives, redevelopment commission members and tourism professionals.”

Randy Cassady from Monroe County is pictured during a question and answer session about local finance. Photo by: Mike Rhodes

Randy Cassady, a 2nd generation electrician from Monroe County, attended the course as a private citizen. As an electrician, Cassady became involved in a variety of Monroe County construction projects and he often wondered how those projects got started. “I’m here to learn about all the processes and procedures required to make our community the best we can as I participate as a citizen,” he said. ” I just want to learn the background information on how these projects come together and how the government and private business work together to initiate economic development projects in my community.”

Blackford said the course has been offered at the Horizon Center for over a decade. “The Horizon Convention Center is just great,” he said. “We love coming to the Horizon Convention Center. We like that it’s in Muncie, home of Ball State. Being in this historic building is great—the sense of place, the environment, and the fact that we can break out into different rooms for programs is very helpful. The attached Courtyard by Marriott hotel is wonderful and many of our attendees tried out some of the new restaurants downtown. The Horizon Convention Center is a great asset to Muncie.”


About the Horizon Convention Center

Centrally located in a thriving downtown atmosphere, Horizon Convention Center connects personalized service and expertise to fulfill your custom convention, wedding, or event needs. Your guests will love the heart of Muncie!