At CORE Planning Strategies, our mission is to help organizations increase efficiencies, realize ideal capital improvements, and transform communities. With his rich background in economic development, Jack Ragland has been a key part of helping us live that mission by engaging with our clients and collaborators in the public sector. After a long and fulfilling career, Jack has decided to slow down a bit and retire from CORE. While we’ll miss having Jack as part of the CORE team, we wish him all the best and thank him for the many opportunities he has provided for our firm.
A history of hard work: Jack’s career path
Jack’s circuitous career path illustrates his willingness to step up, serve, and lead.
“I’ve always tried to live by the saying, ‘You get out of anything what you put into it,’” Jack said. “I learned that from my great grandmother and have tried to apply it to everything.”
Jack entered the working world nearly 70 years ago, delivering newspapers in his hometown of Harrodsburg, Kentucky. During high school, he stocked and sacked groceries for Kroger, where he continued to work during college. During college, Jack was also circulation manager for the Louisville Courier-Journal in Harrodsburg.
He was a junior at the University of Kentucky when—encouraged by his uncle—Jack joined the Army Reserve, where he served for 8 years. During that time, he finished his degree and entered the banking industry.
Jack quickly advanced from trainee to commercial lender to one of the youngest bank presidents at the time. His subsequent leadership roles took him to cities and towns across Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio before he eventually retired from banking.
That retirement didn’t last long. Several years prior, as volunteer chair, Jack had helped start the Southern Indiana Economic Development Council, and the president was stepping down.
“I raised my hand to take his place and did that for a few years,” Jack said. “When SIEDC was folded into the Chamber, I got to retire again.”
This transition provided the opportunity for Jack and his wife, Candace, to relocate from southern Indiana to Carmel, where one of their sons lives. (Jack and Candace have three sons and one daughter). Jack quickly became involved in the homeowner’s association for his new neighborhood, serving as both founding president and treasurer. Yet the call to work beckoned again, and Jack started providing marketing services for the South Central Indiana Economic Development Group.
“I did that for about three years, then retired again,” Jack said. “After coasting for a while, I decided I needed to do something else.”
That’s when Jack connected with Deb Kunce and started doing business development work for CORE.
Q&A with Jack: Reflections and lessons
In celebration of his fourth retirement, Jack shared some reflections about his career and time with CORE, and some fun facts, too.
You’ve held several roles throughout the years. What lessons can you share with us based on that experience?
Corporations are often described as a three-legged stool with the customer, the employee, and the shareholders. Too often, large companies tend to focus on shareholders and stock prices more than their employees and customers. I’ve always felt that if you take care of the customer and employees first, that takes care of the shareholders. If you have good customers and happy employees, you’ll have profits that keep shareholders happy. That translates to municipalities, as well—the residents are the customers as well as shareholders because they vote.
What have you enjoyed most about working with CORE?
When I was in banking and economic development, I gained an understanding of how municipalities operate. Those experiences added value to my work with CORE, meeting with mayors, city council members, and other groups. More than anything, I’ve enjoyed connecting with the municipality leaders and staff and realizing they all have similar goals: making their communities better. By far, that’s what’s on their minds. The opportunity to meet them—and in several cases help them—has been the most enjoyable part of it all.
What is one of your favorite moments at CORE?
Seeing the Lafayette Redevelopment Commission approve a project a project we were hoping to sign. That was the first deal I had worked on, so it was a great feeling to see it move forward.
What are you most looking forward to in retirement?
No pressure! Ninety-nine percent of that pressure has been self-imposed, but now the only pressure I have is keeping my wife happy.
What’s a fun fact that most people don’t know about you?
My first car was 1930 Model A Ford. I paid $75 for it when I was 15 years old in 1955. I finally got my license and drove it for a year, then sold it for $85. I’d give anything to have it today.
Any other parting thoughts you’d like to share?
The CORE team is outstanding. It was always extremely easy for me to talk to prospective clients with confidence about CORE’s capacity, capabilities and how they take care of their clients. It has been a great experience.