Craig Kirk, chairman of the Knox County Development Corp.'s board of directors, on Friday told members that the search for a new president and CEO is moving along.

It's just moving rather slowly.

“I wish I had more to update,” he told the group gathered for their regular monthly meeting at Vincennes University's Isaac K. Beckes Student Union. “We've had some resumes with some reasonable qualifications. We've had some with no economic development background at all ... they're just people looking for a new job.

“There's just not been a lot there,” he said.

Former CEO Kent Utt announced his resignation rather suddenly back in November.

KCDC officials have said little about the resignation — Utt had been at the organization's helm for four years — except that Utt left to pursue a career as a self-employed property appraiser.

Initially, KCDC leadership hoped to hire an interim CEO, someone part-time to oversee the day-to-day operations of the organization and buy them some time so they could conduct a proper search.

But the organization's focus has shifted, instead, to finding someone permanent, even if it takes awhile.

Kirk said they initially posted the job to the Indiana Economic Development Corp.'s website but more recently also added it to the popular job-finding website Indeed in an effort to broaden the audience.

And at least a couple of locals have expressed interest, too, Kirk said.

“They're people very engaged in our community,” he said. “They've been asking about the job.”

Kirk also announced that KCDC will push its annual meeting back, likely to sometime in May or June; typically, the organization's annual meeting, a luncheon punctuated with a keynote speaker, is held in March.

“The speaker we're trying to engage is busy for the first three months of the year,” Kirk told the board, not saying specifically who it is. “So we're looking to push that back to May or June when VU is out of session.

“Hopefully soon we'll be able to lock that speaker down because I think it would be a really good addition to our annual meeting.”

In other business, KCDC's site development committee will meet next week to discuss the possibility of loosening some of the covenants associated with construction in the U.S. 41 Industrial Park.

Kirk told the board that the organization has seen increased interest from companies looking to build in what KCDC a couple of years ago decided to set aside as a mini park, or a collection of smaller 5-10 acre tracks that could be sold to businesses that need room to grow but not necessarily the dozens of acres required by major industries like Farbest Foods or Futaba Indiana of America.

The organization has worked with Banning Engineering of Plainfield in designing the plots and hope to invest in storm water and sanitary sewer infrastructure during a project set for next year, a reconstruction of Elkhorn Road across U.S. 41.

Kirk said KCDC “continues to have talks” with a company from an “adjoining county” that is interested in moving its operation to Knox County, specifically to the industrial park.

But it only needs 5-7 acres, Kirk said.

“They're concerned with some of our covenant restrictions,” Kirk said. “Like, does it all need to be paved or can they get away with some paved and, for instance, gravel in the back? Those are some of the things we'll need to address.

“But we should also recognize the commitment some of our other tenants have made to their properties (ones that adhere to the current covenants).”

Tony Burkhart, president of an operational board that is working to set the day-to-day operations for the new Pantheon: A Business & Innovation Theatre, also announced that the shared workspace and small business incubator is set to open June 1.

Construction, handled by Wolfe Construction, is going well, Burkhart said, and while a soft opening is possible for mid-May, they're shooting for a full, ceremonial opening in early June.

They'd love to host something, he said, on May 16 as that marks the 99th anniversary of the initial opening of the historic theater at 428 Main St.

Burkhart also told the board that the operational board has signed a 5-year franchise agreement with Purdue University's The Foundry, one that will offer direct ties to its resources.

“That will help us to set up and operate,” Burkhart said.

The group, too, has raised $279,000 in private donations.

“And a lot of that came from businesses owners right here in this room, so we appreciate your support,” he said.
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