Elkhart County Rebound Grows Jobs, Economy
In March of 2009, Indiana’s Elkhart County had an unemployment rate that was 20.3% — far higher than the national average of 8.5%. But more than four years later, the numbers in the recovery may be just as stunning.
The South Bend Tribune reported that since 2010, 7,025 jobs have been announced for the Elkhart County economy and more than 4,000 of those have been filled already.
According to statistics from the Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County (EDC), the county has been on a pretty steady, if not spectacular, increase for a while.
In addition to the jobs, more than $282 million in investment has been announced since 2010.
There are a lot of reasons for the rebound of one of the hardest-hit areas in the country during the Great Recession, but many would agree, in Elkhart County, the comeback begins with the work of the Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County.
The entreprenural spirit of Elkhart County is often cited as a key reason for the rebound by Dorinda Heiden-Guss, president and chief executive officer of the EDC of Elkhart County, and Dave Ogle, director of business retention and expansion for the EDC.
But the highly organized efforts of the EDC of Elkhart County also have to be credited, said Gary McPhail, chief financial officer with Lippert Components Inc. and Kinro Manufacturing Inc., subsidiaries of Drew Industries Inc.
In June, Drew moved its corporate headquarters from White Plains, N.Y., to Elkhart, resulting in about six new jobs.
But of greater importance to the Michiana area is that its subsidiaries — Lippert and Kinro — are in the process of adding 500 new jobs that will push Drew’s total employment in the Elkhart County area to 5,300 by 2016.
And Lippert and Kinro project another 300 jobs being added after 2016.
Lippert makes windows, mattresses, upholstered seating, leveling devices, suspension products, slideouts and other accessories for the RV industry as well as components for the manufactured housing industry. Kinro produces doors and windows for the RV and manufactured housing industries.
McPhail said Ogle helped guide the company through the system and made presentations at city and county meetings.
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