While one of Tom Barnes's goals for the coming year is attracting a new business to Marion, he made it very clear at Wednesday's Marion Economic Development Co. annual meeting that existing business retention and expansion will stay the focus of the organization.
"We recognize that it is our existing businesses that provide the vast majority of new jobs," said Barnes, chairman of MEDCO. "Research illustrates that existing businesses create 85 percent of all new jobs. It is the primary responsibility of MEDCO and all regional economic development organizations to support our existing businesses."
Another of Barnes's goals for 2013-2014 is the expansion and relocation of a Marion business. Barnes, chief executive officer of Barnes Manufacturing, said at least one company has outgrown its existing location and he would like to see the business expand somewhere else in the community.
The MEDCO annual meeting at the Longbranch Hotel & Conference Center drew a record audience of 232. They heard that the organization worked with 25 businesses new to Marion in 2012 and actively worked with 19 businesses in the community that are pursuing expansion.
MEDCO President George Lake said the community has more than 300 acres of shovel-ready land zoned for industrial use. Lake said MEDCO has reestablished a revolving loan fund to provide economic assistance to Marion businesses.
Keynote speaker Bruce Lehrman, founder and CEO of Involta, said the Marion-based data storage center provider faces daily threats from hackers attempting to access secure information. Lehrman said many of the cyber attacks originate from China.
Involta operates seven multitenant secure data storage facilities in five locations, primarily secondary markets. He said the company will continue to pursue organic growth through the construction and operation of additional facilities.Lehrman said many factors are essential for the siting of a new data storage center, but access to power and fiber-optic networks are crucial when his company is considering a new location. He credited the cooperation of local community, economic development and utility officials for Involta's success.