Jefferson County's elected officials need to make a decision on an economic development program, and they need to make it soon, several representatives from the county's largest employers said Wednesday.

The industry leaders have been meeting with individuals in the community who represent a variety of disciplines - from education to health care to tourism.

The two items that were discussed the most during the 90-minute meeting Wednesday were creating a vision for the county and having a leader step up to help make the vision a reality.

The eight industry leaders involved in the discussions are:

• Gary Kennon, president of Vehicle Service Group

• Dominic Grote, president of Grote Industries

• Dan Baughman, vice president of Arvin Sango

• Cliff Carnes, plant manager at Indiana-Kentucky Electric Corp.

• Dick Goodman, president of Madison Chemical Co. Inc.

• Roger Williams, president of Royer Corp.

• Kevin Turner, assistant vice president of Madison Precision Products

• Kevin VanZandt, vice president of Century Tube

Kennon, Carnes and Turner were in attendance at Wednesday's meeting. Invited to the meeting were Dick McCracken, who served on Mayor Damon Welch's Blue Ribbon Panel; John Heitz, owner of The Red Pepper and The Red Pepperoni restaurants; Jefferson County Commissioner Bob Little; and representatives of The Madison Courier.

On Monday, The Courier published a letter to the community from the eight business leaders. In the letter, they expressed their concern about "the overall direction in which our community is heading and the seemingly endless debate about how to achieve sustained economic growth."

They said the county needs to focus on creating an educated workforce, having a collaborative government and improving the quality of life.

Speaking for themselves, and not for the entire group, the industry representatives at Wednesday's meeting expressed displeasure at the current speed the City Council was moving with the mayor's proposed JC-INVEST board, which would be an oversight board for economic development in the county.

In their letter, the industry representatives stressed the importance of creating a vision the entire community can get behind to improve job creation projects in the area.

They said an economic development specialist needs to be hired to help develop a structure. They said the communication between city and county officials has been poor. Kennon said he believed the city and county would have some money available to fund the position and the industries would consider pitching in as well.

The members present at Wednesday's meeting agreed that the JC-INVEST board might be a good start, but it's time for the talk to end and the work to begin.