A new alliance between the Evansville Regional Economic Partnership and the Ohio River port in Mount Vernon, Indiana, seeks to grow trade and economic development for the region and state.
The partnership creates a shared leadership position. Jenna Richardt, who has been E-REP’s chief regional economic development officer, has a new role as senior vice president of business development and engagement with Ports of Indiana, based in Mount Vernon.
Richardt, who will keep her title with E-REP through the end of 2023, will coordinate collaborative efforts between the two organizations, while also having a goal of growing all Indiana ports.
Mount Vernon is home to Indiana’s largest port. It contributes more than $1 billion in annual impact to Indiana’s economy, and Richardt says that message needs to be shared more widely.
The new partnership “really comes down to marketing,” says Richardt, who will have offices at both organizations. “It amazes me how little our community knows about the Ports of Indiana and what kind of economic driver it is for Southwest Indiana. This is about bringing the two organizations together to be a powerhouse for economic development and make it greater.”
Services provided by Mount Vernon’s port, Richardt says, can benefit any local company, not just those positioned at or near the port.
She says E-REP and Ports of Indiana want to promote that message to existing companies as well as those elsewhere who wish to expand.
“We could land a company tomorrow, and they could start importing and exporting immediately,” she says.
In addition to the Mount Vernon facility, Ports of Indiana operates another Ohio River port in Jeffersonville, and one on Lake Michigan in the Portage/Burns Harbor community.
The three ports have about 1,000 acres available for future development, and about 70 percent of that land is in Mount Vernon.
Before joining E-REP as chief regional development officer, Richardt was executive director for the Posey County Economic Development Partnership in Mount Vernon.
Leaders of E-REP and Ports of Indiana say they are excited about the new partnership and Richardt’s role.
“The Mount Vernon port is a hidden gem for this region that has untapped potential to power additional growth in this region’s logistics, manufacturing, agriculture and energy sectors, and Ports of Indiana will be a powerful partner to help us explore new trade and development opportunities,” E-REP CEO Tara Barney says.
Ports of Indiana CEO Jody Peacock says the state’s southwest region “has tremendous logistics advantages, including the country’s busiest inland port district, access to five Class I railroads, the median center of the U.S. population, and the soon-to-be-completed I-69 super corridor that will connect Canada to Mexico. We are thrilled to partner with E-REP and have someone of Jenna’s caliber stationed here to lead our business development efforts in this region and across the state.”