In recent months, several companies and individuals made capital improvements and added jobs in Montgomery County.

Surely these investments, and others, are solid indicators that the positive national trends are positive Montgomery County trends as well: Cracker Barrel, Crawford Industries, Mervis Industries, Wellbrooke of Crawfordsville (the healthcare facility behind our hospital), Sunoco Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), Dollar Plus on Market Street, the Man Cave and Bowery on Washington Street, and Sadowski's façade improvement on Main Street.

When people think economic development in our county, they think about Montgomery County Economic Development (MCED). But MCED, although involved in varying degrees with most of these investments, is, as its mission says, a focal point for the partners who provide information and support to those who take investment risks.

Even the MCED organization is a focal point of community leaders. It is not a "them", but is an "us." Most decisions are made by the seven-member Executive Committee that includes three elected officials: Commissioner Phil Bane, Mayor Todd Barton, and City Council member Heather Perkins. Another elected official, County Councilman Tom Utley, is a member of the full board. The Executive Committee hires and supervises the Director. The full Board passes a budget, creates a plan of work, and reports to its funding sources, the City Council and the County Council.

One of the most important economic development decisions made by a community is tax abatement, a decision controlled by our partners, the Town Councils, the City Council or the County Council. Our two most recent tax abatement decisions were made by the City Council for Wellbrooke of Crawfordsville and Crawford Industries. Tax abatement essentially says, "We'll phase in your tax payments, taking a little less for a few years, in exchange for your decision to locate or expand here, and thus, make tax payments for a long time to come."

Other partners include our two Redevelopment Commissions, one for the city and one for the county. Each seven-member commission is appointed by elected officials: the commissioners and the county council in the county, and the mayor and the city council in the city. The commissions have the power to designate areas as Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Districts, thus allowing some or all of the new income from the property taxes of industries in the district to be used for infrastructure improvement. TIF money is being used to pay the bonds on the Commerce Park in the city and the Nucor Sewer District in the county. TIF money was recently used to help pay to improve the Foster Fletcher drain, making the area south of I-74 and east of U.S. 231 suitable for development which results in the capital investment that produces tax revenue.

The State is an economic development partner when it gives tax credits for capital investment, training, or the rehabilitation of old buildings for manufacturing.

In addition to tax and monetary incentives, economic development is influenced by the quality of the schools and the availability of a qualified workforce. As a consequence the leadership of our county's K-12 schools and our community college are essential partners.

Furthermore, it matters to a company that makes food for livestock that our county understands agriculture. We make that case by proudly telling that our agricultural partners are the state's top producer of soybeans, the fourth highest producer of corn, have the highest per capita 4-H participation, and are a center for agricultural related businesses.

While MCED is the focal point or the hub of the county's economic wheel, each of these partners has a critical role to play in our county's future.

Deanna Durrett is the Public Relations Director for Montgomery County Economic Development. Read MCED's column every Monday in The Paper.