The Hancock County Economic Development Committee will host a county economic summit March 29th. It hopes the summit will be the first step to reduce decades-long trends of job, business and population losses.
Committee Chairman Jerry Bartell said the county was home to about 30,000 people at the beginning of the 20th century. He said the county population is down to about 19,000 people.
He said, “But another alarming figure that got my attention was the fact that we lost 20% of our sales tax-paying businesses since 2000.”
The summit will bring together business, community and education leaders in an effort to network and come up with solutions.
Bartell said, “We have lost some businesses. We want to make them aware and put a number value on it so they can realize the significance of those reductions. And to also realize what can happen as we go forward if this trend continues. Because we can see higher taxes for people if we're going to try to maintain our infrastructure.”
He hopes the summit will attract younger volunteers. Bartell worries that many of the members of the committee and the county board are getting up in years. He said younger people are needed to guarantee long-term success of economic development in the county.
The time and location of the summit have not been determined.