Two northern Indiana congressmen are asking the federal government to help the nation’s struggling recreational vehicle industry.
According to a report in the Indianapolis Star, Democrat Joe Donnelly and Republican Mark Souder sent letters to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke asking them to add loans to RV buyers and sellers to the recently created government program to encourage business and consumer lending.
They also asked that banks and financial companies receiving money from the Treasury Department’s Troubled Asset Relief Program — the $700 billion bailout fund known as TARP — be required to use that money to make loans to consumers and businesses.
The two congressmen say credit remains a problem and that businesses and consumers are having trouble getting loans. They say that’s hurt the RV industry.
“The recreational vehicle industry employs thousands of hardworking Hoosiers in our area and is a key component of our local economy,” Donnelly said. “Congressman Souder and I want to help the RV industry as it copes with the current economic downturn. This is about protecting good jobs by making sure the government’s rescue of our financial system works the way it is supposed to.”
Through October, shipments from RV companies to dealers for the year fell 27% from the comparable period in 2007, according to Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). The downturn is expected to stretch into 2009, when shipments are forecast at 186,800 units, or about 25% lower than this year’s projected total of 248,000.
Elkhart County, the center of the RV business, had an unemployment rate of 10.7% in August, compared with 6.4% statewide.
“The economic concerns of Elkhart County cannot be overlooked during this recession,” Souder said. “The RV industry, in particular, is a vital manufacturing base that provides good jobs for hardworking Hoosiers and is essential to our local financial stability.”