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CEO Letter

A message from CEO Tara Barney


Last month more than 400 member businesses met for lunch with Gov. Eric Holcomb. All who had the opportunity to attend will attest to the energy, great insights and fun over which the Governor presided. During his conversation with our retiring President Greg Wathen, they discussed the Evansville Region’s unique opportunity to attract talent and make our hometowns the best places to call home, thanks in great part to the $50 million READI funding opportunity we have available to leverage local and private investments in the projects that matter most. When Wathen asked about the possibility of READI Repeat, another round of State investment, Gov. Holcomb was optimistic.

The Governor also spoke about Indiana’s first Global Economic Summit attracting companies from more than 30 countries around the world, as well as business leaders from throughout the nation to see and hear about the great opportunities Indiana offers. He and his team share a vision for making Indiana the “the smart crossroads of America” by recruiting the industries of the future and focusing on the talent pipeline that these industries demand.

A highlight of lunch was the opportunity to recognize my colleague, Greg Wathen, for his extraordinary career and his catalytic role in the Evansville Region’s success. He was honored by Mayor Lloyd Winnecke with the key to the City of Evansville and a proclamation designating June 17 as Greg Wathen Day. Gov. Holcomb added to the significance of the day by presenting Greg with the Sagamore of the Wabash Award; an honor reserved for those whom the Governor personally recognizes as being “distinguished by their humanity in living, their loyalty in friendship, their wisdom in council, and their inspiration in leadership.” Those of us who have had the honor of working with Greg over his 36-year career in economic development, know that he is a worthy recipient of this distinguished recognition.

Greg’s work as the Evansville Region’s Chief Economic Development Executive has not only delivered new business, business growth and industry growth to the region he serves, but he has also had a steady and creative hand in more long-term initiatives such as Regional Cities and now the READI investment opportunities that will enrich our region for decades to come. His involvement in business and community projects has touched the lives of thousands of citizens across Southwest Indiana. When you think about the growth of the Evansville Region over the last 14 years, projects like the renovated Evansville Regional Airport Terminal renovation, or expansion plans announced by Toyota, Berry Global and many others come to mind. You may even think of projects that enhance the quality of life in our region like the connected trails network throughout our region or the urban vibe that the Post House and other residential choices offer. Every one of these and hundreds of other developments happen thanks to tremendous local leadership caring enough to go the extra mile.

There is one person, a guy some might say is too humble about his role in each; a man who lives, breathes, and drives the Evansville Region’s economic success. Greg Wathen has given more to our community than awards, special days or our profuse “thanks” can ever match. We’ve been privileged to have him serving the Evansville Region these many years. Who knows what his well-earned retirement will look like, but we know, as Greg Wathen promises, he will be “living the dream” in the Evansville Region!