Gina Sheets, who served as director of economic development and international trade at the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, is the ISDA’s new agriculture director. She was appointed by Gov. Mike Pence at a recent press conference in Indianapolis and was joined by (right) Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann.
Gina Sheets, who served as director of economic development and international trade at the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, is the ISDA’s new agriculture director. She was appointed by Gov. Mike Pence at a recent press conference in Indianapolis and was joined by (right) Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann.

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 departments.

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.