During a visit to Elkhart, Ind., last week, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said he continues to see some promising signs of an economic recovery.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels

Following the announcement that Dometic Corp. is bringing 241 jobs to its Elkhart plant from Sweden, Daniels spoke in generalities about what he’s seeing in his travels around the Hoosier state.

“One thing we were seeing in this economic downturn is a lot of companies consolidating and contracting — three plants to two, two plants to one. And we’ve had a long string of the contracting.

“The moment we saw how serious this situation would be, we had to look at the opportunity-side of the equation. The best businesses that I’m familiar with have usually gained market share from weaker competitors in down markets. I want our state to think that way. They’re not all international. The interesting part of this (Dometic accouncement) is that we are in-sourcing jobs not just from other states, but other countries. That just proves that if you want something built well and productively and cost-effectively, come to Indiana.”

Dometic also looked to move the jobs to either Mexico or China, Doug Whyte, Dometic president, noted during the press announcement.

When asked by RVBUSINESS.com whether the Dometic announcement was “part of a turning of the ship, so to speak,” Daniels replied, “Let me answer in two ways. In talking to people in the industry, there are some promising signs. If financing will loosen up, they think demand is there. Inventories are down some. Nothing could lead to a quicker bounce back for this area than a snap back in that particular segment.

“More broadly, I think we have to wait awhile to know. One thing in terms of the whole economy, people are, understandably, going to be more careful about their spending, their consumption, saving a little more.

“We want to be very cautious,” he stressed. “I’d love to see things roar back, but I don’t think we have the evidence of that yet. But in this industry, I’m very encouraged and that could be great news for this part of Indiana.”

Daniels could not immediately name other recent examples of international firms closing an operation abroad and moving production to Indiana, but he said there is a trend of consolidations into the Hoosier state.

“When they compare their Indiana facility to one in another state and occasionally another country, they are saying, ‘This is where we’ve got the best workers, the lowest taxes, the best transportation, all the elements for success.’

“So,” Daniels concluded, “we’re trying to fight back, in part, by making lemonade out of a tough national economy.”