Melinda Grismer, a community and regional development specialist with PCRD, currently has an administrative appointment to the Wabash Heartland Innovation Network (WHIN) as the Vice President of Regional Development. WHIN, a 10-county region in north-central Indiana, was awarded a $40 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. (LEI) for regional community and economic development in 2017. Melinda has been working with the WHIN core team, since 2016 to develop the proposal that was funded by LEI. Previously, Melinda worked on PCRD’s DMAP (Defense Manufacturing Assistance Program) team, assisting counties and regions affected by defense downsizing to minimize the impact of lost jobs/quality of place by implementing economic strategies, workforce planning and revitalization efforts. Melinda has also coached SET (Stronger Economies Together) regions across the state to build local coalitions and write high-quality plans of action. In addition, she served on a team with the regional community development educators to create/refine curriculum for the Business Retention & Expansion (BR&E), Community Leadership, Enhancing the Quality of Public Spaces and Grant Writing Workshop programs.
Melinda spent three years (2004-2007) developing a successful Latino Community Learning Center/Pl@za Comunitaria in Frankfort, Indiana, followed by three years (2007-2010) as the Learning Network Coordinator of Clinton County, building local educational and workforce capacity through grant funding and fee-based revenue. In 2010, upon obtaining her Master’s degree from Purdue University in Extension/adult education, she became a community development educator in Clinton County, trailblazing such spotlight programs as Breaking Back into the Workforce, Reality Language instruction for manufacturing/service industries, Local Government: Closest to the People, Industry Leader Lunch Series, Small Business Networking, Summer Kids Workshops, the Clinton County Tutoring Program and Leadership Clinton County. In her role at PCRD, Melinda leverages the experience she gained working with her local community, and expands it into regional impact for the state of Indiana.