Mayor Lloyd Winnecke’s next professional endeavor now is official.
The three-term Republican mayor of Evansville, who is leaving office on Dec. 31, was announced as the next CEO of the Evansville Regional Economic Partnership. The news was confirmed during E-REP’s Annual Meeting and Dinner held Sept. 28 at Ford Center.
On Jan. 8, 2024, Winnecke will succeed Tara Barney, who came to Evansville in 2018 from the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce in Davenport, Iowa.
When E-REP announced in July that Barney planned to retire, the organization said a committee would conduct a national search for her replacement.
As it turned out, that committee did not have far to look.
Long popular with Evansville’s business community, Winnecke will transition out of elected politics into a leading business and economic development role for Southwest Indiana.
“As we look ahead, I want to emphasize that E-REP’s commitment to business is unwavering,” Winnecke said Thursday after being introduced as the organization’s new CEO. “Together, we’re going to continue to build on the foundation that Tara and the E-REP team have built these last few years, fostering collaboration, innovation, and growth.
“Our vision is super clear, and that’s to create an environment where businesses of all kinds big and small can really thrive. And that’s what we’re going to continue to do.”
In 2021, E-REP was created by a merger of three legacy organizations — Southwest Indiana Chamber, Growth Alliance for Greater Evansville, and Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana. Barney became CEO of E-REP after having been president and CEO of the Southwest Indiana Chamber.
E-REP promotes economic development and business activity in Gibson, Posey, Vanderburgh, and Warrick counties. The Evansville Regional Sports Commission, which seeks to attract high-profile sports events to the region, became a part of E-REP in 2022.
Winnecke, 63, brought a background in banking, television news, and Vanderburgh County government service to the Evansville mayor’s office in 2012.
He was elected a county commissioner in 2008 after having been on the county council since 1999. Winnecke worked in local television news for 17 years and as senior vice president and marketing director for Fifth Third Bank. He’s a graduate of Central High School and the University of Evansville.
As mayor, Winnecke worked on projects such as the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel and Stone Family Center for Health Sciences, both in Downtown; the Deaconess Aquatic Center in Garvin Park; and hundreds of millions of dollars in water and sewer system upgrades.
A recent top priority of E-REP has involved steering the region’s projects funded by the State of Indiana’s Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative program. A few of those READI projects involve riverfront planning and activation in Evansville, Mount Vernon, and Newburgh, Indiana; workforce housing near Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana’s Princeton, Indiana, plant; a new indoor sports complex in Warrick County between Evansville and Newburgh; workforce housing in a former furniture factory on Maryland Street; and an expansion of the University of Southern Indiana nursing program; housing for medical students in Downtown Evansville.
E-REP also has prioritized retaining and attracting talent to the region.
Barney said at Thursday’s meeting that the organization is well-positioned to continue to advocate for the Evansville area’s most prized projects, such as a revamped riverfront, a new Interstate 69 bridge, and an improved delivery of mental health services.
“Whatever comes, we are better equipped than we’ve ever been to leverage change into opportunity in this region,” she says.