Wathen announces transition to retirement after 15 years of transformational work in the Evansville Region and 36 years in economic development
EVANSVILLE, Ind. (May 26, 2022) – Greg Wathen, president of the Evansville Regional Economic Partnership (E-REP), announced plans to retire in the fall of 2022 after over 15 years of transformational work in the Evansville Region and 36 years in economic development.
“When you think about the growth of the Evansville Region, you probably think about the ribbon cuttings for projects like the renovated Evansville Regional Airport Terminal or the announcement of Toyota’s expansion plans,” said Jim Ryan, chair of E-REP and CEO of Old National Bancorp. “While there has been tremendous local leadership advancing these projects, Greg Wathen has been the driving force behind the scenes resulting in the creation of thousands of new jobs and billions invested in the Region.”
Wathen played an integral role in the formation of E-REP and was active in guiding its first-year successes while leading critical economic development work. Wathen served as the first and only president and CEO of the Economic Development Coalition for 14 years until the organization’s merger with the Southwest Indiana Chamber and Growth Alliance for Greater Evansville to form E-REP.
“From day one, my goal for the E-REP merger was to ensure that we collectively laid a solid foundation for the future to build a stronger regional voice, and I believe that process is well under-way,” said Wathen.
Wathen is well known as the chief economic development leader for the Evansville Region in local circles, throughout the state of Indiana, and nationally. Wathen has twice earned the prestigious honor of being named a top 50 economic developer in North America by Consultant Connect.
“Greg has proven time and time again that he is an early thought leader and ahead of the curve in the value of regionalism,” said Evan Beck, past chair of the Coalition and president of Woodward Commercial Realty. “Greg began talking about the importance of talent and coalescing strategies around advanced manufacturing and life sciences as an economic driver in 2008; well ahead of the rest of the nation.”
Because of Wathen’s collaborative efforts and vision for the region, the State of Indiana awarded $42 million in Regional Cities Initiative funding to help create projects to attract talent to the region and help leverage nearly $1 billion in public and private investment.
Wathen also initiated the concept of the new mixed-use development in Downtown Evansville called the Post House, a $40-plus million investment combining downtown living with new energy technologies. The Post House residential space was fully occupied within the first year.
Under Greg’s leadership at the Coalition, the community development team secured $79 million in grant funding for the region leveraging an additional $132 million into the communities for key infrastructure projects and capacity building.
“A champion for our region, an inspiring leader, a technical expert; Greg Wathen is all of these and more,” said Tara Barney, CEO of E-REP. “He has challenged us to do more, faster. He has been the steady hand through the launch of Evansville Regional Economic Partnership and built an unparalleled network of trusted partners throughout the state and the nation that will serve our region for years to come. His stewardship of and genuine care for Evansville and Southwest Indiana is irreplaceable.”
Before his work at the Coalition, Wathen worked as the President & CEO of the Perry County Development Corporation and was Public Affairs Manager for the Greater Louisville Economic Development Partnership. A graduate of Indiana State University, Wathen is Accredited in Public Relations by the Public Relations Society of America and held the position of President for the Bluegrass Chapter of the PRSA. He is a Past Chairman and served on the Indiana Economic Development Association board of directors, a statewide economic development organization with more than 400 members.
Jenna Richardt, Vice President for Community and Economic Development will continue to serve the region as the lead economic and community development contact as Wathen transitions to retirement.
“What we accomplished only happens with great support from talented team members, a focused board of directors, and committed community leaders,” said Wathen. “The region is on a great trajectory for a prosperous future, and I am humbled to have played a small role in helping to make Evansville and Southwest Indiana a better place to live.”