An expert who has studied traits of thriving communities will share his assessment on how Columbus is performing at an upcoming gathering of business and community leaders.

Drew Klacik, a senior policy analyst with the Indiana University Public Policy Institute, will be keynote speaker at the 109th Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce annual meeting, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. March 28 at The Commons in downtown Columbus.

His message will resonate with all attendees, whether they are educators, elected officials, business professionals or people associated with nonprofit organizations, chamber president Cindy Frey said.

“He will talk about something we all have a stake in, and that is the community’s economic well-being,” Frey said. “He will help us understand what it means to be a thriving community.”

Klacik has worked for the Public Policy Institute since 1992, primarily involved in economic development, state and local taxation, and affordable housing and neighborhood development policy. He has a master’s degree in urban and regional planning, and previously was a principal planner for Indianapolis’ Division of Economic Development.

Some of the metrics Klacik analyzes is the education of a community population, poverty rates, employment rates, labor force and per capita income, Frey said.

Klacik is familiar with Columbus, having been a speaker at the Regional Workforce Talent Summit in November 2016 at The Commons, presented by the Community Education Coalition and the Economic Opportunities through Education (EcO) Network. He also presented data forecasting workforce trends for the region.

Klacik has worked with the Community Education Coalition and EcO on other occasions. He helped perform an evaluation of EcO about eight years ago, said John Burnett, president and CEO of the coalition.

“He did a terrific job,” Burnett said.

Klacik was a principal researcher and author of the 2015 “Thriving Communities, Thriving State” report, working with Columbus leaders when conducting research on that project, Burnett said.

The report, Burnett said, indicated that Indiana needed to focus on three main things:

  • Increase education attainment levels
  • Pursue well-paying jobs
  • Create a strategy for attracting people to Indiana and retaining them

In addition to Klacik’s keynote address, the annual meeting with feature an overview of the chamber’s three-year strategic plan, plus the presentation of multiple awards for a community initiative, community service and a top company, a top teacher and young entrepreneurs.

If you go

What: 109th Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting

When: 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. March 28

Where: The Commons, 300 Washington St., Columbus

Cost: $50 per person, $400 per table of eight; seating limited

On the agenda:

  • Presentation of awards for Maverick Challenge, Company of the Year, Community Initiative, Community Service, Edna V. Folger Outstanding Teacher
  • Overview of Chamber’s 3-year strategic plan
  • Keynote speaker Drew Klacik, senior public policy analyst with the IU Public Policy Institute

To register: Visit business.columbusareachamber.com/events/details/chamber-annual-meeting-2018-1687

Author photo
Kirk Johannesen is assistant managing editor of The Republic. He can be reached at johannesen@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5639.