» Washington County Indiana

About the Washington County Economic Growth Partnership

Angie Buchanan
Executive Director
The Washington County Economic Growth Partnership (WCEGP) is a non-profit organization founded in 1992 to work with local partners in government, business and education to improve, expand and attract new businesses to the community. The mission of WCEGP is to increase job opportunities through business expansion and recruitment efforts to promote economic growth and improved quality of life for the citizens of Washington County, Indiana.

Washington County’s economic development strategy is broken down into three major focuses: business retention and expansion, business attraction and marketing. In addition, WCEGP is focused on community development to improve quality of place.

Washington County has many strengths related to its workforce, location, educational assets, employers and overall health of the business environment. And we understand that the strength of our community is based on our workforce and the entrepreneurial spirit of our small businesses, and we are here to serve our local community.

Washington County Economic Growth Partnership is a member of the following organizations. 
All of these memberships help to aid in business attraction to our great community.

Business Attraction

The J.F. Hesel Commerce Park located in Salem, Indiana is a certified Indiana Shovel Ready Site, zoned I-1, with utilities on the site (water, wastewater, electric, natural gas, fiber internet), Adjacent to City of Salem, quick access by three state highways, 18 minutes from I-65, 45 minutes from Louisville, KY, 90 minutes from Indianapolis, IN, 45 minutes from Louisville International Airport, 90 minutes from Indianapolis International Airport. This commerce park is a valuable resource to the community and a valuable economic development asset in the areas of both business retention and business attraction.

The Origins of the J.F. Helsel Commerce Park

J.F. Helsel Commerce Park was donated to the Washington County Economic Growth Partnership in 2001 by Robert and Clarice Morris, both life natives of Washington County and retired school teachers. Thanks to Robert and Clarice’s vision and generosity, they will always be remembered by Washington County residents as two philanthropists who invested in the future, and the past, of Washington County. The donated land would later become known as the J.F. Helsel Commerce Park.

J.F. Helsel Commerce Park was named in honor of Jess Helsel, who will be remembered by many as a man with a great sense of humor and always a man of hard work. Six years after taking up residence in Salem, Jess's work grew to the international level by starting a powdered metallurgy plant in Mexico City. Jess also built what would become the GKN Sinter Metals Company in Salem in 1968. He stayed with this plant until 1972 doing international development work. Shortly after, he bought a company in Indianapolis, which he relocated to Campbellsburg in 1976. This company, Helsel, Inc., later became Net Shape Technologies, Inc. Jess also acquired two more plants in Indiana in 1970, which would eventually be sold to GOULD. Throughout his career, he was able to travel to many countries and do business with people from all over the world. Jess took action at both the community level and state level. He served as president of the Washington County Economic Growth Partnership for eight years and was on the board for many years. Besides serving Washington County through the Economic Growth Partnership, he also completed 24 years of service on the Indiana Statewide Certified Development Corporation. He also served as a chair on the Indiana Small Businesses Council, two terms on the 8th District Federal Reserve Board, two terms on the Indiana Manufacturers’ Association, and as a chairman on the Indiana Ivy Tech State Board of Trustees.
*Biography information courtesy of the Washington County Community Foundation.

Business Retention and Expansion

Small businesses represent a significant opportunity for Washington County and as such, WCEGP is here to support local small businesses through tax abatement assistance, project assistance, the Small Business Development Loan program, and acting as a conduit to local, regional, federal and state agencies. Local businesses can contact the WCEGP regarding needs or challenges they face so that they can work together towards progress and sustainability.

Marketing Assistance

The WCEGP provides marketing assistance for available buildings and land. WCEGP lists available spaces on the WCEGP website, Indiana Economic Development Corporation website and three regional marketing websites.

Quality of Place

Lastly, the WCEGP is focused on quality of place. Whether through efforts related to the Monon South Trail or working with developers to bring housing options to the community, the WCEGP is committed to fostering a vibrant Washington County.

WCEGP Board of Directors

  • Rhonda Smith, President (business representative)
  • Mayor Justin Green, Vice President
  • Eric Zink, Treasurer (non-profit representative)
  • Jaden Stone, Secretary (Pekin Town Manager)
  • Mark McKinney, Ex-Officio (utility representative)
  • Rick Roberts, Commissioner
  • Preston Shell, County Council
  • Roger Pennington, City Council
  • David Hypes (business representative)

To connect with the Washington County Economic Growth Partnership please visit our contact webpage.