Every place has a pitch for why you should live there. Mark Dobson, the CEO of the Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County, might have the most seductive line of them all.
“Please come to Elkhart County,” Dobson likes to tell people. “We’ve got a job for you.”
According to an Indianapolis Star report, that’s not hyperbole. Elkhart County has a 2.2% unemployment rate, the fifth-best in the U.S., and low enough to almost ensure that anyone who is capable of working can find a job.
Elkhart is riding a tidal wave of a boom-and-bust economy that is driven by recreational vehicle manufacturing. Employers have created nearly 10,000 manufacturing jobs during the past two years, making Elkhart a virtual utopia straight out of President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign message that the economic future belongs to Americans who build things.
It’s fitting, then, that Trump and Vice President Mike Pence will appear in Elkhart today (May 10) to kick off the general election campaign season with a 7 p.m. rally at North Side Middle School. They are expected to take aim at U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, one of the most vulnerable Democratic senators up for re-election in November, and give a boost to Republican Mike Braun two days after he emerged from a brutal primary campaign.
Elkhart has become a popular presidential backdrop. Barack Obama made his first trip as president there in 2009 and returned two years ago to mark Elkhart’s recovery from 20% unemployment. Elkhart’s unique reliance on Americans buying RVs — nearly 90% of RVs are built there — makes it a laboratory for federal policy, from Obama’s $800 billion economic stimulus package to Trump’s tax cuts and tariffs.
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