By: Jay Julian
In the business of economic development, you hear a lot about shell buildings, TIF arrangements, and state incentives. In fact, these are some of the fundamentals of a good economic development strategy.
But how often do you hear the economic development community talking about toddlers or the level of pre-school education?
And that’s just one more fact that differentiates Muncie and Delaware County from the rest of the state and even the nation.
By age 5, a child’s educational blueprint has been cast. Some say it happens by age 3. That means there may be no greater impact than family and early childhood education on a child’s lifelong contribution to her community’s economic vitality.
I am proud to say the Muncie-Delaware County Economic Development Alliance has made early childhood education one of its pillars of achievement in its Vision 2016 campaign. The EDA and many of the county’s most influential for-profit companies and non-profit agencies are backing the B5 initiative.
If the strength of the economic base of the community doesn’t do this, who will? We see it in our best interest to be a vocal partner in the strategy to improve the education base of our community.
One of Muncie’s biggest allies, Tom Kinghorn, a retired vice president for business affairs and treasurer at Ball State University, is a leader behind the cause. He asked, “Is there anything more important, really?”
I certainly can’t think of anything.
These quality of life issues are taking center stage these days in conversations around the boardroom when it comes to where companies will locate and how they’ll persuade their workforce to follow them. No longer is it good enough to offer employees a paycheck and paid time off. They want to know the place they’ll be living cares about the same things they care about: a good education system, a thriving parks, recreation and cultural environment, a strong housing market and all of it in a location that makes it easy for them to travel.
Muncie and Delaware County hits all those marks and more. And we’re not shy about taking on the tough challenges so many communities face. Early childhood education is a key to our long-term economic vitality and businesses that come here play a role in shaping that future.