GREENFIELD — More than 100 people gathered at the Greenfield Chamber Area of Commerce’s January meeting to listen to the annual State of Community event, which included updates from individuals who are involved in the growth of Hancock County, providing a small look into what’s ahead for community members.

Jeff Somers, who works with GBC bank and is the Chamber Board of Directors chairman, took on the position of chairman this year.

“Obviously we’re embarking on a new year, filled with some endless possibilities and opportunities for businesses and organizations in Greenfield and for the county,” Somers said.

With the chamber’s mission of partnering for prosperity, Somers said that they had 51 businesses join and become a member of the chamber last year, a record number. Also last year, they had 18 ribbon cuttings, the most done in one year since Somers has been involved with the chamber.

Sitting alongside Somers on the panel was Guy Titus, Greenfield mayor, who also started his new role this year, and despite only having nine days in office, Titus has lived in Greenfield all his life. Titus said when he took over office, the city was is in good shape thanks to former mayor Chuck Fewell.

Titus said that the new substation, new sewer plant, water tower and water lines will help evolve the infrastructure to keep up with the growth of the city.

“It’s coming our way,” Titus said. “We’re destined to have it and I’m looking forward to that because Greenfield and our home community, we have an opportunity here and what we do with it now, all you in this room and these people here, we have a chance to enhance that.”

Titus also said that another item he heard from the people that needs to be addressed besides another grocery store is the condition of the roads, with hopes of many getting worked on this summer. Also this summer being worked on is the new Olive Garden on Ind. 9.

“We’re just growing at great strides,” said Titus, sharing that, according to the tourism board, the number of visitors for 2023 at Depot Park was approximately 80,000 with the year before that being only 25,000 visitors.

“People are starting to come to Greenfield and I’m excited about that,” Titus said.

Jeannine Gray, president of the Hancock County Council, also shared some impacts being made but at a county level, such as working closely with the county commissioners to have joint meetings quarterly to allow more individuals to be able to attend.

Gray said that a topic that many have been speaking on is public safety, especially pressures put on the western part of the county, so the commissioners and council have worked closely and acknowledged $3 million a year for the next 10 years to help.

Another big project coming to the county is Amplify Hancock, a 9-12 education center for the four school districts.

Gray said they have also been diligent in spending ARPA dollars to hire mental health navigators with the jail to continue to make sure that individuals that are incarcerated are set on the right path when entering the criminal justice system.

“I’m looking forward to seeing great things come out of that, ” Gray said.

Gray said ARPA dollars will also be used for the infrastructure that is seen developing on the western part of the county.

Another project that can be seen on the western part is Hancock Health’s Gateway Park by the Mt. Comfort exit on I-70.

Steve Long, CEO of Hancock Health said that Hancock Regional Hospital has been one of the largest employers in the county for approximately 25 years with 1,500 employees and continues to grow with projects like Gateway.

Long shared that multiple buildings and businesses in Gateway are coming soon, such as Randall’s Residence, which just opened approximately a month ago; a pediatric oral surgery center, the third one of its kind in central Indiana according to Long; a 60 acre, eight-year, $210 million development happening on the west end of the property that will resemble much like Fisher’s District; and a dual-brand hotel and conference center.

And with the three wellness centers throughout the county, there have been more than 14,000 members with more than half a million visits in the last year.

“It’s incredible what is happening here in Hancock County,” Long said.

Another individual on the panel and working with the economic development of Hancock County was Randy Sorrell, executive director of Hancock Economic Development Council (HEDC).

Sorrell said that the HEDC is a nonprofit organization created in 1985 to help grow the local economy. With the HEDC, confidential conversations can be had with Sorrell about developments coming to Hancock County.

Sorrel said they get projects primarily from the state of Indiana, and companies will reach out to the state to grow existing facilities or need new footprints, they send out Requests for Information (RFI). Last year alone, the HEDC received 136 requests for information, and of those they responded to 74.

“Because of the growth we’ve been experiencing in the county in the last five years, we are now able to respond to more than 50% of the RFIs.”

Sorrell also said that with the population growth, it was estimated that by 2030, the census would hit 85,043. However, Sorrell said that the numbers are showing the population is at about 85,000 today.

Sorrell said Hancock County is the 5th fastest growing county in the state and that Hancock County numbers are better than the state numbers in a lot of different categories, such as high school graduation rates, unemployment rates and more.

Sorrell said that Hancock County is an economic driver and a strong point for work, with people coming from all different counties to work, but in order to help the county they need to live there.

“Which, also by the way, that would also help with the need for a grocery store,” said Sorrell with the panel and audience laughing.

The next Greenfield Area of Chamber Commerce meeting will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 6 to discuss the state of education in Hancock County with all four school districts.