by Jason M. Rodriguez
LOGANSPORT — The Logansport-Cass County Economic Development Foundation announced Monday it had hired Connie Neininger as its next president, ending an eight-month process to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Nolan “Skip” Kuker.
Neininger, the current economic development director for White County, will begin her duties in Cass County on Nov. 19.
“We feel that Connie is an excellent candidate for this position,” Jim Hayden, LEDF board chairman, said in a press release issued Monday. “She is a bridge builder with the skills and desire to bring people together in collaborative economic development efforts. We are excited to have her join our team.”
Neininger was the co-chair and helped found the Midwest Indiana Economic Development group. In 2011, Neininger helped make sure the Monticello Business Park was one of 13 sites across the state to be designated as “shovel ready.” Such sites are certified by the state to be eligible for matching grants and available for quick development.
On Monday, Neininger said success was in the planning.
“The more we can do to prepare ourselves for that opportunity, the better our chances at succeeding,” she said.
Neininger has taken two trips to China as part of her role in economic development in the region. The second trip came in June when Logansport City Attorney Randy Head and his wife, Lisa Swaim, went to China on a privately funded trip to represent Logansport.
“Regionalism is key,” Neininger said. “When you’re standing in Shanghai, they’re not going to know Logansport or Monticello or White County or Cass County... but they will know the Midwest Indiana region. Regionalism builds that voice.”
Neininger has some local ties, too. She serves on the Wabash Valley advisory panel for Northern Indiana Public Service Company, or NIPSCO, with local leaders such as Joyce Mayhill, executive director of United Way of Cass County, and Mike Meagher, executive director of the Area Five Agency on Aging and Community Services.
Neininger has been known for several projects including a 500-megawatt wind farm project called Meadow Lake Wind Farm, an anaerobic digester project in Reynolds to turn animal waste into electricity and helping the Liberty Landfill near Buffalo to capture its methane to produce electricity.
To lure Neininger to accept the Cass County position, the LEDF board decided to waive its residency requirement and allow Neininger to maintain her home in White County.
Neininger has been credited with “optimizing communication amongst White County officials, assisting local companies with expansion efforts and the development of over $1.2 billion of economic development projects,” according to the release.
She said she plans to build a collaborative effort throughout the county when she starts her new job.
“There needs to be more communication throughout the county,” she said. “I think the opportunities with the Hoosier Heartland is phenomenal, and I think there is potential with Ivy Tech and their workforce development program ... I think Cass County has some untapped resources.”