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WestGate at Crane Tech Park visionary passes; jobs picture keeps improving

Posted Friday, July 23, 2010, at 8:57 AM

WestGate at Crane Technology Park lost a true friend and supporter early Tuesday morning with the unexpected passing of 77-year old Gene Shaw of Shoals.

I've worked with and covered Gene for years from the very early days of the tech park development in 2006.

The former president of the WestGate Authority, the governing body that oversees the tech park development a cooperative venture of Greene, Daviess and Martin counties, was always a gentleman, who wore a big smile and always had a kind greeting every time we met.

Gene, who was the first WestGate Authority president, also shared an extraordinary optimism and vision for what the tech park was and could be in the future. He understood what its development meant to the three-county region and the people who live here.

Gene's funeral will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Shoals Christian Church, 600 Main Street in Shoals.

Some of his close friends agree that Gene, who served as board president 2006-2009, will be missed.

"His presence at the Westgate Tech Park and the Authority will be missed tremendously. His vision, attention to detail, extraordinary sense of purpose, his reasoning abilities and overall leadership helped guide us from the Parks' inception to today's successes," said Dale Ankrom, lead developer for the tech park. "We would all do well to emulate and follow in his footsteps. Westgate would not be where it is at this time without Gene Shaw,"

Ankrom, who heads up WestGate at Crane Development Co., LLC (WCDC), continued, "Beyond our roles with him as Authority president and board member, and us as developers of Westgate, we formed a strong bond and friendship that few knew of. We would talk on the phone two, three and often four times a week and discuss all various matters of life in general. He was a tremendous person in all aspects of life, holding family, friends, community and country dear. His actions for all spoke loud and clear of his work, devotion and commitment. We lost a great one and while we will never truly replace Gene, we all have some really big shoes to fill to carry on with his legacy."

Loogootee Mayor Bowling shared an admiration for Shaw, who joined him as WestGate Authority representatives from Martin County.

"I regarded Gene both as a colleague in service and as a very good friend of everyone working to make our region a better one. He left an outstanding record of service and he will be missed," Bowling said.

Michael Snyder, of the MEK group, also spoke kindly of Shaw and said, "Coming from a county that has long been challenged for real growth and development, Gene was a beacon of leadership. Back in 2003-2005, when there were no buildings, no funding of any note and the stark uncertainty of a $2 billion military facility possibly vanishing altogether with 5,000 jobs, Gene would show up for virtually every meeting, take notes, offer to pitch in, and encouraged everyone to stay the course. Gene was right there donating his time, marshaling the local redevelopment commission, and standing alongside everyone as a vision slowly but surely became reality."

In addition to his work with the WestGate, Shaw served on the Martin County Redevelopment Commission and helped found the Martin County Community Foundation. He was previously recognized for his regional service by Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who formally named him a "Distinguished Hoosier." He was named "Citizen of the Year" in 2010 by the Martin County Chamber of Commerce.

A special memorial page on the WestGate Tech Park website has been setup in his honor at http://www.westgatecrane.com/Gene-Shaw.h....

WestGate, on the doorsteps of Naval Support Activity (NSA) Crane, is home to technology operations of major defense companies like SAIC, URS Corporation, CACI, ITT, CSC, Raydar & Associates, Novonics, NAVMAR, Stimulus Engineering and Technical Services Corporation (TSC), as well as other technology companies.

The park is also expected to benefit from growth associated with the 2012 opening of I-69 in the region.

Total employment in the tech park now exceeds 400 employees -- much of that is to the direct credit of the behind-the-scenes work of Gene Shaw.

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While we're talking jobs, the latest employment report released by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development shows a 10.1 percent state jobless rate for June -- a .1 percent increase from the previous month.

Greene County ranked 66th out of the state's 92 counties with a 9.3 percent jobless rate.

That's a far cry from the days not too many years ago when the county used to traditionally rank in the top 5 for unemployment.

Interestingly, Greene County's other two partners in the WestGate Tech Park rank -- Daviess and Martin counties -- rank 92nd and 91st -- putting them at the very top of the county ranking for June.

Daviess County had a 6.5 percent rate while Martin County stood at 7.4 percent.

Nick is the assistant editor for the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at 847-4487 or 1-800-947-4487 or by e-mail at schneider.nick@gmail.com.



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