During the Kosciusko County Council meeting Thursday night, George Robertson, president of Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation, stated that Kosciusko County has experienced significant economic growth during a period of national uncertainty and decline. According to Robertson, Kosciusko County holds the lowest unemployment rate for northwest Indiana counties.
The county has a 7.2 percent unemployment rate, which is lower than any other surrounding northwest county. According to Robertson, the only other county to hold an unemployment rate under 8 percent is Allen County with a 7.9 percentage rate.
In the past year, KEDCO has made tremendous strides in the community in assisting to stimulate economic growth while retaining local businesses. Robertson, who was noted by the board for all his hard work in staying up-to-date with current economic trends both locally and nationally, announced to the board that during a time where many companies have been looking to outsource labor, KEDCO has managed to bring several companies to local vacant buildings. These acquisitions have occurred across the county spanning from Milford, Etna Green, Warsaw and Syracuse.
In addition, Robertson hopes to work toward attracting even more businesses to the county by creating “shell buildings” throughout 2013. According to him, businesses are no longer interested in building new facilities for operations. Instead, they are looking for options they can quickly move into and begin production.
Shell buildings are built and designed to be quickly expanded upon. These buildings would begin at roughly 25,000 square feet and would already have many of the necessary utilities equipped. Such buildings would offer buyers easy and quick leasing opportunities to make quick acquisition choices.
The leasing of these buildings is not the only thing that has been on Robertson’s agenda. Robertson stated that after receiving manufacturing and business product inquiries from Notre Dame’s Industrial Park, KEDCO will soon be obtaining a detailed listing of approximately 120 companies and their numerous services and products to offer to interested buyers, such as Notre Dame. This listing will offer specific search queries that can offer buyers information for easy product purchasing.
With KEDCO’s aim to further economic growth comes a goal to equip manufacturers with the workforce they need for successful business practices. Robertson stated that many manufacturers believe that the workforce needed to provide optimal production does not exist. According to Robertson, many companies have said their primary difficulties with retaining a successful staff stem from three core issues: the inability to pass a drug test; the lack of steady attendance and work ethic; and most prevalent, the lack of skilled employees.
Through working with Ivy Tech College and Work One, KEDCO hopes to implement a “Manufacturing Bootcamp” in which potential employees would submit a resumé to be considered by program directors. Those selected would need to pass a drug test and attend every class while working toward bettering basic educational skills like math.
Robertson said many manufacturers have been willing to wait for Bootcamp graduates for their hiring needs and believes this program would greatly benefit local businesses.
For more information on KEDCO visit their website.