Meet Dan Bish, VP of Business Development

A photo of Dan Bish, VP of Business Development at NEI.

The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership’s most recent hire Dan Bish, Vice President of Business Development, sat down for a Q/A to get to know him better.

Bish comes with over a decade of experience in economic development. Previously, Bish worked for the Allegheny County Economic Development organization as the Business Development Manager. Before that, he was the Community & Economic Development Specialist for over five years at the economic development corporation in Montgomery County, Ohio.

Bish earned his bachelor’s degree in political science and history from Saint Vincent College, where he also played lacrosse. He earned his master’s degree in public administration from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

How familiar were you with Northeast Indiana or Indiana in general before starting work here?

Yeah, so not very familiar with northeast Indiana. I’ve only been through here once. Before moving here, I came through on a college tour way back when I was looking to find a school to go to and looked at Saint Francis. I viewed Indiana as a competitor while working in the Dayton, Ohio area. You’re always competing with your surrounding states, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Kentucky.

Why economic development? How did you get in the field?

I think I got into it the same way a lot of other people get into economic development, and you just kind of happen to wake up one day and you’re an economic developer. After I graduated from my undergrad, I went back home to St. Louis and ended up meeting the head of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s public administration programs. He told me to apply I got a graduate assistantship there and kind of got into public administration through that.

I ended up going there to be a graduate assistant and took some classes that were more centered on local government, community development, economic development and planning or zoning. They’re all kind of tied together very closely, so I decided that’s what I wanted to get into. I got a job after that. I wrote a comprehensive plan for a city in Missouri and then worked for the city of Arnold which is a little south of St. Louis, as a planner, economic development role and doing a little bit of all of the above work. And then from there, the job got more and more narrow, and I found myself in that economic development role, getting more and more specialized within it. I’ve been along for the journey and taking the different opportunities. It’s always been a positive step forward and up.

What do you enjoy about the work?

It’s always different. There are always different projects you get to work on. You get to learn about some new industry, a subsector or a local gem that nobody’s ever told you about that makes a very specific thing and has been in the family for a certain amount of time. It could also be something that is very weird, wild, and didn’t even know could be a job.

What challenges have you faced in the past and how did you overcome them?

Working in local government, there’s always a variety of challenges. You might get a newly elected official who comes in and has a whole new track that you need to go down or wants to scrap some project that you’ve been working on, but you’ve been working towards that goal. So, finding a way to explain that and try to rework it in a way that helps to achieve that.

What’s your favorite project that you’ve worked on?

I really enjoyed when I was working in Montgomery County, we attracted the Crocs distribution center. They were previously distributing out of California, and it wasn’t working out for them with labor costs, site control and other things. We got shortlisted and it worked. They have a really great team that we got to work with. They were very methodical and very straightforward. That was one of my bigger wins having gone from smaller St. Louis communities, and smaller cities into a region that was more focused on business attraction and development for larger scale projects, having a lot more resources to pull together working with partners. It was a great experience, not just working with the community to attract that project, but also with the end user. I think they’ve done one or two expansions since then.

Did you get a pair of Crocs out of the deal?

No, no kickbacks. It led me to buy my first pair of Crocs. I was like, I must see what all the fuss is about. Yeah, I love them. They’re nice little gardening shoes or go to the store real quick.

What excites you the most about the job here?

I think always getting to learn something new, and navigating a new set of issues and challenges. There’s going to be something like that anywhere you go. But again, this larger area presents a unique challenge, especially because I’m new to the region as well and don’t have that familiarity. Getting to introduce myself and tackle challenges in a way that reflects my background and where I’ve come from is a really exciting opportunity.

What’s something that’s on your bucket list?

Yeah, that’s a great question. Probably anything that’s more travel and seeing some American sites that I’ve never had an opportunity to go to. I’ve always been pretty focused on work, and not getting the opportunity to see things like a ton of the West Coast or the Grand Canyon or some of the unique sites across the U.S. Also, I’d love to see all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums.

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