Dorinda Heiden-Guss

Dorinda Heiden-Guss

The Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County (EDC) is reporting significant signs of recovery.

This economically challenged region of northern Indiana brought into the national spotlight briefly as the center of the recession is working together to establish an impressive comeback, according to an EDC news release. This economic resurgence is marked with over $105 million of new investment and approximately 2,600 new jobs that are to be created.

“The variety of economic activity we are seeing is extremely positive,” said Dorinda Heiden-Guss, EDC president. “Our existing industries are adapting and retooling operations during these tough times. The result is we are seeing manufacturing diversification into refrigeration products, commercial furniture, and new ‘green’ industries such as hybrid engines and lightweight composites.”

Heiden-Guss said existing companies in the truck and RV segment are now “leaner and greener” capitalizing on high energy costs in the marketplace with lighter weight, more fuel efficient offerings.

Among the RV-related expansions were projects announced, though not necessarily completed, by ATC Trailer Holdings Inc., Atwood Mobile Products, Coachmen Industries Inc., Dometic Corp., Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc., Electric Motors Corp., Gulf Stream Coach Inc., Keystone RV Co. and Robert Weed Plywood. 

National and international exposure brought high interest from a myriad of entrepreneurs ready to launch companies and those considering green business expansion opportunities. “Companies looking for a winning location for expansion in need of an experienced manufacturing workforce, a variety of affordable space for lease or purchase, and educational institutions ramped up to handle industry specific training, should take a closer look at Elkhart County, Indiana. This is the highest level of interest the EDC of Elkhart County ever experienced,” she said.

As the manufacturing center for the region, Elkhart County businesses are ideally suited to adapt to market trends through customizing products and diversifying quickly. Many industry expansion inquiries align with the national trend of the burgeoning green industry, new energy and life sciences. As the primary contact for existing business expansion and business recruitment, Dave Ogle, director of business retention and expansion for the EDC, said he continues to see opportunity for economic growth.

 “These are industries that will provide us with the diversification we must have for our future economic stability,” he said. “The fact that many of these green and other industries locating here will help our existing recreational vehicle and specialty truck clusters is a great advantage. These companies will provide our existing firms with new fuel efficient hybrid engines, lightweight sustainable composite technologies and other technologies to provide a competitive edge in the marketplace for our existing industries.”