Pella Chronicle

November 20, 2012

Rural economic development gets a boost

By Michael Schaffer - Managing editor
Daily Iowegian

CENTERVILLE — Indian Hills Community College has hired a new rural business development advisor for Appanoose, Wayne and Van Buren counties.

Neil MacArthur, of Centerville, in the new position will offer free consulting assistance to entrepreneurs in setting up a new business or help existing small and large business owners in all industries in improving operations, according to an IHCC press release.

Monday at the IHCC Centerville campus local business owners and others attended a 90 minute meeting to greet MacArthur, watch a Powerpoint presentation and hear what the college's economic development initiatives are and the resources that are available.

"The intent is to improve the economics in the area," MacArthur said. "To create jobs, to create economic well-being, do what we can ... to bring the resources in that we have available to bear."

MacArthur's position is funded through a United States Department of Agriculture grant and will run for two years.

MacArthur said IHCC is not competing with existing economic development efforts but acts as a supplement to those efforts.

Besides MacArthur's unique skill set, others in IHCC's regional economic advancement team have experience and expertise to help new or existing business owners avoid pitfalls and mistakes.

MacArthur started in late September and of the three counties, he's made the most inroads in Wayne County.

MacArthur said he's working with two existing business owners in Wayne County and one who wants to start a new business.

The intent of creating the rural business development advisor is to put somebody on the ground in the three counties, MacArthur said, noting the economic factors for the three counties show they are the poorest.

"And so those were the ones that they really want to focus on," MacArthur said.

At least one day a week MacArthur is in each county. In Van Buren County it's at IHCC's service center in Keosauqua; in Wayne County it's at the Wayne County Hospital in Corydon; and in Centerville it's at the college's campus.

MacArthur said in two years it's his wish to see tangible economic improvement.

"Where you can actually take a look at a net creation of jobs, meaningful jobs," MacArthur said. "And the way that we think we can do that is by improving existing businesses by helping them. More equally important is starting new businesses. Small business is the engine that really drives economic growth."

Entrepreneurs or existing business owners in the three county area who want MacArthur's assistance can reach him by calling (641) 856-2143 ext. 2206 or by email at neil.macarthur@indianhills.edu.

In addition to MacArthur's introduction to the local business community Monday, Tom Rubel, executive dean of regional economic advancement, gave a short presentation on the college's mission to promote regional economic advancement.

Rubel can be reached by calling (641) 683-5252.

MacArthur moved to Centerville one year ago. Besides his work with IHCC, he also runs the abstract business at Craver Law Firm in Centerville for his son-in-law, Mike Craver.

MacArthur retired 20 years ago as the vice president and chief information officer from Huntsman Corporation, a global company.