INDIANAPOLIS — Gina Sheets, the previous director of
economic development and international trade at the Indiana State Department of
Agriculture, is the new director of the organization.
She joined Gov. Mike Pence and Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann at a
press conference at the Indiana Statehouse, where they announced the news to
agricultural and Indianapolis media.
“Indiana is many things, but at its core, it is about
agriculture,” the governor said.
“It’s accurate to say during difficult times the vitality of
agriculture is a saving grace to community in our state,” he said. “To diversify
the agricultural economy, our administration is determined to continue to build
on what it has.”
Pence, who served on the House Agriculture Committee before
being elected governor, said agriculture has enormous significance in Indiana,
with a $26-billion impact on the state’s economy.
Sheets’ appointment, while greeted as good news by
representatives of agriculture, came later than expected since Pence did not
announce her appointment until after he was inaugurated Jan. 14.
Pence said his administration had been makings its best
efforts to retain and recruit the best talent for its various
Sheets said that she is excited about her new role in
helping agriculture grow Indiana’s economy, an industry that intersects with
research, technology and logistics.
She added she will be focusing on global markets, research
and collaboration as director and will continue her work elevating various
agricultural ventures with the Indiana Economic Development Corp., as well as
developing new community partnerships.
The new director was a delegate on former Lt. Gov. Becky
Skillman’s 2011 trade mission to Japan, where she met with representatives from
businesses that have investments in Indiana and encouraged continued expansion
of new development and business.
Before joining state government in 2009, she served as
economic development director and CEO of the Clinton County Chamber of Commerce,
director of the Frankfort Urban Enterprise Association and director of the
Clinton County Economic Advancement Foundation.
She and her husband, Travis, own a farm in Clinton County,
where they raise pasture poultry, free-range hens, pasture beef, rainbow trout
and fruits and vegetables. She graduated from Stanislaus State University and
the University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute.
Ellspermann noted that while Indiana’s agricultural industry
is strong, there is tremendous potential to grow it even further.
“Throughout her transition, we had the opportunity to see
Gina’s quality of work, and it has revealed that she is a great pick for the
director of ISDA,” she said.
The lieutenant governor said following Pence’s Road Map for
Indiana, building a competitive property tax structure, rolling out
opportunities for agricultural development and working with the IEDC, Purdue
University and other organizations would be key priorities for agriculture
during their new administration.
“Indiana is so well-poised with strong research capabilities
and a number of positions open at ISDA, and she will be responsible for filling
those positions,” Ellspermann added.
“Agriculture is the base industry under all our communities,
helping reinvigorate those communities. It is a true blessing to be Indiana’s
secretary of agriculture, and with our partnerships with DuPont Pioneer, we have
the opportunity in agriculture to continue to elevate our industry, and our new
leadership will help us do it,” she said.