Indiana’s Elkhart County’s RV industry has been slammed with layoffs over the past year. As reported by FOX28 TV, hundreds more were announced on Monday as Keystone RV Co. and Jayco Inc. made significant cuts.
In this economic climate, job loss is the reality for the county since nearly half of its jobs are in manufacturing. The unemployment rate in Elkhart County is nearing 20%, and county leaders say diversity is what could get them out of the hole.
“We are optimistic at some point, we are going to get new jobs,” says Mike Yoder, Elkhart County commissioner.
The question is how and what type of new jobs are we talking about?
“We are particularly interested in non- RV jobs and that’s already been coming,” says Yoder.
He says while he’s not totally giving up on the RV industry, it’s time to refocus their efforts on new business, like more technology, science and health care based industries.
Yoder says they’re proposing a tax phase-in for an already existing business looking to expand. If approved, it could bring at close to 70 to 100 new jobs into Elkhart County almost immediately.
Elkhart Mayor Dick Moore says the desire to buy RV’s didn’t go away, the money to buy them did. He’s focusing his efforts on bringing more money to Elkhart, through President Barack Obama’s stimulus package.
“I believe if we can put spending money back in people’s pockets and get the cost of fuel down, I believe it will all come back,” says Moore.
He says in the meantime, he is open to attracting other types of businesses.
The Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County said it’s important to keep in mind who your workers are.
“We have a lot of skills related to manufacturing, so when we look to diversity the market we are looking at what other comparable or like industries or businesses hold that skill base,” says Dorinda Heiden-Guss, president of the Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County.