Pictured (left to right) are Dr. John Teevan, Grace College; Rob Parker, President and CEO of the Kosciusko Chamber of Commerce; and Kosciusko Leadership Academy Cadet Orville Haney. Photo provided.

SYRACUSE – At the Syracuse Community Center on Jan. 18, cadets from Kosciusko Leadership Academy received an overview of the economy in Kosciusko County from three perspectives.

Lake City Bank President David Findlay gave a presentation on macro economics with a banking focus, according to a KLA press release. Findlay advocated for local banking because of the community stewardship and engagement of local banks: banks that know their communities and their customers, driving local growth, and their connection to the communities’ history. There are fewer than 6,000 banks today, down from over 17,000 in 1984 due to mergers and acquisitions.

Lake City Bank was established in Kosciusko County in 1872 and will soon begin its 150th anniversary celebrations. Expansion began in Winona Lake in 1965, Elkhart in 1990, Fort Wayne in 1999, and Indianapolis in 2011. Lake City Bank’s parent company, Lakeland Financial Corp., trades on NASDAQ as LKFN.

Rob Parker, President and CEO of the Kosciusko Chamber of Commerce, presented the mission of the Chamber and the impact local businesses have on the economy. The Chamber’s mission includes four areas of impact: growth, inspiration, voice and engagement.

Parker cited a local median income of $62,000, a crime rate only one-third of the national average, and low unemployment as evidence of a strong economy.

Dr. John Teevan, Acting President of Grace College and Seminary and Professor of Economics, provided an overview of the history and current state of the economy in Kosciusko County.

“It was the railroad that originally put this county on the map,” Teevan said of the railroad, which arrived in 1859. He mentioned a number of companies that came from Chicago , including Dalton Foundry, Da-Lite Screen, RR Donnelley and Arnolt Corp.

Economic growth in Kosciusko County has followed what Teevan described as the economic pyramid of growth, moving from an economy based on agriculture and textiles to manufacturing and an economy based on education, technology and knowledge. Teevan said a continued focus on research and development, finance, knowledge and medical services is key to continued economic success, the statement said.

The KLA cadets will then meet Feb. 8 at the Kosciusko Community Hospital Administration Classroom for Health Care in Kosciusko County.

The Kosciusko Leadership Academy is in its 40th year of service to the county. As an independent 501(c)3 organization, KLA hosts bi-weekly morning sessions throughout the county to expose leaders to a wide variety of local topics and experts. The annual white paper projects have brought many benefits to the citizens of Kosciusko County.

For more information, visit www.kocsciuskoleadership.org.