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Lieutenant governor praises collaboration in Steuben County

Posted: Wednesday, September 13, 2017 11:00 pm | Updated: 6:34 am, Thu Sep 14, 2017.

By Mike Marturello mmarturello@kpcmedia.com | 0 comments

ANGOLA — Indiana Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch likes what she got to see in Steuben County as she toured Angola and the lakes area Tuesday and Wednesday.

The sort of innovation and take-charge attitude locally is in line with the state’s “Next Level” program being advanced by the Gov. Eric Holcomb administration.

The public-private partnerships, like that which is going on with the development of the Angola technology park; work going on at Trine University’s Innovation One to develop new businesses and campus improvements like the addition of Thunder Ice Arena; governmental agencies and officials working with one another instead of against each other; people of various stripes taking control and working for the common good; all of that is what Crouch saw when she visited the community.

“It’s the kind of collaboration we want to see across the state. You do it so well up here,” Crouch said while sipping coffee Wednesday morning at Sutton’s Deli in downtown Angola.

The Holcomb administration is building on 12 years of positive fiscal leadership offer by previous Govs. Mitch Daniels and Mike Pence.

“We have achieved great success here in Indiana,” Crouch said. “We want to take Indiana to the next level.”

Through the five state agencies she leads, Crouch said she wants to guide them in a fashion that continues to improve the state’s economy.

She also gave credit for the Legislature in enacting legislation that funds infrastructure improvements. She said the legislation will bring about $47 million in new spending in Steuben County over the next five years.

Crouch was on a whirlwind tour of the community, taking in stops at places like Trine University, City Hall and The Enterprise Center after arriving Tuesday and staying the night in the Lake James home of state Rep. Denny Zent, R-Angola. She even got an aerial tour of the county, courtesy of Northern Indiana Public Service Co.

After flying the county, Crouch agreed with Zent that while confined animal feeding operations have their place in Indiana, Steuben County, with all of its water, was probably not one of them. In her position, Crouch heads the state Department of Agriculture.

While touring The Enterprise Center, operated by the Steuben County Economic Development Corp., Crouch did not sit idly during a presentation by Executive Director Isaac Lee. Instead, she engaged Lee with pointed questions about how the center worked, particularly its training programs.

Crouch told Lee that she, like many others in the room, was put on a path to only go to college. She asked how you change the culture to thinking that it’s good to go into training programs that are about skilled positions such as welding.

“It’s about the awareness,” Lee said.

He said the center was working with parents and students to encourage young people to take advantage of the programs available at The Enterprise Center.

In January, a new program, like a dual credit program for college, will allow students to finish their senior year in high school and also earn a certification at The Enterprise Center that will allow them to head straight into the workforce with skills sought by local employers, Isaac said.

Crouch said this collaboration and cooperation is what’s needed to move such a program forward.

“I think that’s what you’re doing here. We just need to get the word out,” Crouch said.

Crouch and staff were impressed with what’s going on in Steuben County, particularly for its size. Between the growth that’s taking place at Trine, the private investment in the community, the gem that is downtown Angola (Crouch said it reminded her of Boston) the innovation at The Enterprise Center and growth in private business, there was much to be proud of.

Photo with Lt. Governor at Enterprise Center