Investment in Elkhart County industrial facilities up this year

Roger Schneider | The Goshen NewsEXCAVATING EQUIPMENT sits idle Friday at the construction site of Dometic Corp.’s new $7 million distribution center addition along Century Drive in Goshen. The Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County helped facilitate the company’s expansion back in 2013 and groundbreaking for the plant occurred in August. The EDC reported a big leap in investments in jobs and facilities has occurred this year.

GOSHEN — The Elkhart County economy got big boosts this year with more than $108 million in new investments by new and existing companies, according to the Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County.

Those investments are expected to create 1,661 new jobs, according to the agency.

Dorinda Heiden-Guss, president and chief executive officer of the Economic Development Corp., said the agency’s new focus on raising the standard of living and overall quality of life in the county is beginning to pay off. The agency announced earlier this year its change in purpose from trolling for new industries to locate in the county, to attracting new businesses and helping expanding businesses that pay higher-than-average wages.

She said the two new industries that located in Bristol industrial parks were Alliance Sheets and Satellite Industries. Alliance Sheets invested $25 million in a facility and added 50 jobs with a wage scale of $20.80 per hour. Satellite Industries invested $6.9 million in a facility and created 70 jobs with a wage scale of $25.56 per hour.

“So that’s pretty impressive,” Heiden-Guss said. “What we are trying to do is bring quality paying jobs to the market and diversification.”

She said the EDC assisted with 18 projects, 16 of which were expansions, and the two new companies in Bristol.

According to Heiden-Guss, in 2013, the EDC secured $72 million in new business investment with a weighted average salary of $15.47 an hour. In 2014, the EDC said the year’s $108 million investments come with a weighted average salary of $23.70 an hour.

She said the salaries are “weighted” by taking the average wage, multiplying by the number of jobs and then dividing by the total number of jobs at a company.

“This is a significant difference in how the EDC of Elkhart County is doing business,” Heiden-Guss said. “Thanks to our board of directors and strategic direction, Elkhart County and the region will benefit from this new focus.”

She said the EDC is supporting existing companies with programs for expansions, connecting with resources and understanding the challenge in securing enough workers.

Of the 18 companies the EDC assisted this year, 16 were existing companies. The 18 projects were spread over seven communities in the county, according to Heiden-Guss.

“This is why the EDC is building a program for diversification, Heiden-Guss said. “By broadening the types of businesses in our local market, different talents and skill bases are needed. It also may bring the needed balance to offset the ebb and flows of our marketplace.”

The EDC team is enthusiastic about the continuing successful outcomes through the end of 2014, Heiden-Guss adds. “We bring value by helping businesses be profitable when they create quality jobs in the ever-changing global market,” she said.

The EDC of Elkhart County’s was founded in 2000 to recruit businesses, help businesses with employee retaining and strengthen the county’s economic base.

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