Bradley Leaves LCEDC | Sun News
LAGRANGE – After 36 years of browsing his economic maps and charts to try to help steer different communities in Indiana towards better economic waters, LaGrange County Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Bill Bradley passed the part one of this week sorting out its collection links, trying to narrow down the collection.
Looks like Bradley won’t need most of those links anymore. Bradley is stepping down as head of the LaGrange County EDC and handing over the reins of the organization to Sheri Johnston, who joined EDC three years ago to succeed Bradley. Bradley’s last day of work was Tuesday.
Bradley came to EDC after leading a similar economic development organization in Jay County for over a decade. Bradley said he came to LaGrange County to help restore stability to EDC after a year in which the organization was rocked.
A Ball State graduate where he earned a master’s degree in public administration, Bradley said he had just graduated when he interned at the Muncie / Delaware County Chamber of Commerce and was introduced to the field then. emerging from economic development. He said he loved the job, so he made it his mission.
“That’s really how it started,” he recalls. “This is not an area you begin to dream of entering kindergarten. “
Bradley said he came to LaGrange knowing he would need to stabilize the company, making sure it was financially sound and on a solid footing.
The best part of the job, Bradley said, was working with local business owners.
Johnston, a native of LaGrange, an accounting graduate from Marian College, takes over as president and CEO of the organization. She worked for the Parkview Foundation before working for EDC. She called her role as EDC’s new director an honor.
“I really think it’s an honor to be able to serve the community in this capacity,” she said. “I think that’s the area I should have been in in my career. I have a degree in accounting so I have done a lot in accounting, but this area of economic development is really rewarding.
Johnston said EDC’s role in the community has evolved over the years and now strives to be more than just an incubator for new businesses and manufacturing. She said part of her new mission is to work closely with other local community organizations like the Chamber of Commerce to help provide information and services to owners of all local businesses, large and small.
“We bring so many different groups together to try to get things done and make things happen,” she said of EDC’s role. “It’s gratifying.”
In this new role, EDC worked with the LaGrange County Community Foundation to help create a new comprehensive plan for the community. Johnston said this process really helped her figure out where the community would like to see LaGrange County grow.
“What we think is necessary is not always what the community wants, so putting this plan in place has been really interesting,” she explained.
Hailing from LaGrange County, Johnston said being born and raised in this community gives her a real edge as she leads EDC into the future.
“I think it helps a lot. I grew up here, I was born and I grew up here. I have connections through my church, through 4-H, ”she said. “I know the culture of LaGrange County.”
Johnston said his goals for the organization are to make sure EDC is the first stop for any organization considering coming to or expanding to LaGrange County.
“I want entrepreneurs to be able to come to us because we have strong programs to help them get started and we want them to stay in the county,” she explained. “I want LaGrange County to be a place the kids want to come back to after they graduate from college because there are so many opportunities here.”