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If all of Elkhart’s “eggs” were in the RV basket, then the city is now spreading them into “other baskets.”
While the RV industry remains an important part of Elkhart’s economy, other businesses are settling and expending as well.
“Elkhart is certainly known for RVs. We will remain the RV capital of the world. But we are certainly looking to diversify. Certainly looking toward using our strategic location to recruit new businesses,” says Barkley Garrett, Elkhart economic development director. “We have everything from healthcare to automotive to metals and plastics. You name it. We make it here.”
Economic experts say the past few years have not been business as usual in the city. But they are optimistic as more companies move to town and those already there expand their production and workforce.
A company from Pennsylvania called Santelli Tempered Glass is investing $3.7 million in a new Elkhart plant because of its location among major cities. The company tempers glass for windows in homes and officials say they will hire 17 workers initially, but hopefully 35 when the business is up and running.
“We’ll start hiring immediately for plant managers and shift managers and maintenance manager,” explains Joe Santelli.
Another new company coming to town is called Bruzer, which will make guns not intended to kill but rather stop someone from attacking you.
“Bruzer is what happens when you hit somebody with this. It leaves a tremendous bruise,” explains creator Tommy Teach. “The point of this gun is to strictly save lives.”
Teach decided to set up shop in Elkhart because he admires the opportunities available there for small businesses.
“Elkhart is, primarily in what I’ve seen, is a very good entrepreneur town. There are people with really great ideas, really great attitudes. The workforce here is tremendous,” explains Teach. “People will work together here in this town. Where in other communities we’ve approached have not been willing to do this, where Elkhart has been.”
The nation is watching the Elkhart, Ind., economy. How is it performing?
The Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce will explore that question with Dorinda Heiden-Guss, president of the Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County, Nov. 18 at Christiana Creek Country Club in Elkhart, according to a news release.
Heiden-Guss will describe the impact of the economic downturn and two presidential visits on local job creation efforts. She will share how local economic development activities have been affected by the national media spotlight and elusive promise of federal stimulus money.
Attendees will also learn about recent successes in attracting companies to locate or expand in Elkhart County.
The Economic Development Luncheon is hosted by the Chamber Economic Development Council. This Council is engaged in many activities to remove barriers to job creation in the community.