ELKHART — Years ago when Dorinda Heiden-Guss was leading the effort for economic development in Whitley County, she came to realize the importance of a nice office where corporate execs could meet and discuss relocation or expansion plans.
She had just sat down in the organization’s new, improved office with a group from Michigan who were looking at a site along U.S. 30 that would potentially bring with it about 200 jobs.
The president of the Economic Development Corporation of Elkhart County recalls that the visitors looked around at the new office, sat down and said, “It’s clearly obvious that this county supports economic growth.”
Flash forward to today and Heiden-Guss anticipates that same type of reaction in Elkhart as she and her staff begin hosting clients at EDC’s new headquarters at 300 Nibco Parkway on the second floor of the Old National Bank building.
“First impressions have impact. People form opinions in minutes,” Heiden-Guss said. “A good visual environment (that’s) clean and organized is important.”
And that’s exactly what visitors will find at the new EDC offices following their move from Goshen last week.
Heiden-Guss was almost giddy about the move as she sat in her new office last week, realizing a goal she set forth six years ago when she was hired had finally transpired.
Heiden-Guss expressed appreciation to First Source Bank in Goshen for helping provide EDC with office space for the past 10-plus years, but said the staff had seriously outgrown the available space.
The Goshen office had three personal offices and slightly more than 1,000 square feet.
The new facility, spread across 2,300 square feet, has four offices, a corporate conference room, two work stations, a lobby, a meeting area for small groups, plus an office equipment room and a kitchenette.
The change helps meet the demands of a larger staff that has grown from three full time employees four years ago to four full-time and two part-time employees today.
EDC’s portion of the second floor had never been occupied and was still unfinished, meaning everything is essentially brand new.
Old National Bank and Hoogenboom-Nofziger, a Goshen-based developer that owns the building, helped with the “build out” costs associated with the project.
Greg Hoogenboom, president of Hoogenboom-Nofziger, said the move represents a good step for EDC.
“It’s good to have them in such a nice space,” Hoogenboom said. “If you’ve got this type of facility, people will see you mean business and that there are people supporting you that will enable you to do this.”
While the staff brought some of the existing furnishings and office equipment to the new office, much of the furniture is new and the organization benefited from plenty of community support, Heiden-Guss said.
The facility includes gorgeous woodwork, new furniture, two modern work cubicles and a stylish three-panel dry board for presentations.
Among the donations were a large flat screen for teleconferencing from MITO Corporation of Elkhart and woodwork for the kitchenette and another room from Smart Cabinetry, New Paris.
“Everybody worked with us in making this move a reality,” said Heiden-Guss. “We could not be more grateful.”
EDC’s board looked at numerous locations for several years and had an interest in a spot along C.R. 17 near the Indiana Toll Road, but that option proved to be too expensive, she said.
EDC’s new office overlooks several nearby restaurants and banks and the Nibco Water and Ice Park.
“We’re in a nice environment to showcase Elkhart County,” Heiden-Guss said.
Visitors and staff will also enjoy the available Wi-Fi environment and more parking.
The office has experienced an upgrade in technology that includes teleconferencing capabilities using Skype and an improved phone system that automates client communications.
EDC also has a new phone that underscores their mission: 293-JOBS, or 293-5627.