FairWinds is a company that can provide companies with site selection services, incentive negotiation, and the required compliance. They take a very personalized approach with each client, which sets them apart. When I started my internship, Economic Development was a relatively new concept to me. I understood what I thought it meant and what I thought I might be doing, but I quickly received a crash course on exactly what FairWinds can provide a client from Jenny Massey, the co-owner, COO and President.
One of the first things I learned was that the life of a consultant can be difficult at times. When acting as the middleman, you are the one who is held accountable for problems that arise, regardless if they are your fault or not. This means that being ahead of the ball is extremely important so that everyone is happy. Because FairWinds has had such a busy year, I was able to help put a fresh spin on some documents that were used to keep the steps in the process in order.
Jenny took me with her to all of her meetings so that I could see how a project works at every stage. This meant that I was included in meetings with potential clients and meetings with current clients that were near the end of their project. It was eye opening to see not only the different types of meetings but the huge range of companies that FairWinds can assist. Some companies is start-ups with no employees while others are huge companies that are expanding with a new location or in a new state. Each company comes with completely different needs and problems. For those reasons, it was very important to be well prepared with knowledge about all possible incentives. I was able to learn a lot from listening to these meetings, often learning along with the clients.
I was also involved in helping with a few projects that Jenny and her partner, Jay, are undertaking to better the company. One of those is a new website. I had the opportunity to sit in on a creative session and have been able to help with some creative ideas for the new site that is being built. It has been a fun challenge to help create a product that is engaging and informative without being overwhelming, especially considering I had no experience with web design.
Overall, my experience at FairWinds has been extremely educational and valuable. I was able to learn about real world business by working with the large variety of clients. Being a part of the FairWinds’ team provided an in-depth understanding of some of the advantages and challenges that small businesses face. I would like to thank the Lilly Endowment for making this internship possible, FairWinds Advisors for the opportunity and Wabash College for organizing the experience.