There's nothing fishy about diversifying the area's sagging economy.
With unemployment at 18.3 percent in Elkhart County -- 19.2 in the city -- it's more important than ever to think outside the box when it comes to growing business and industry beyond recreational vehicles and supplier manufacturing.
Mike Yoder, a Middlebury dairy farmer who also happens to be an Elkhart County commissioner, wants to try indoor tilapia farming.
He is planning a pilot project with the Indiana Soybean Alliance, which is working to advance soybean-based fish food.
It may sound like a fish tale, but in our book it's just the type of thinking this county needs to get back on its feet.
The business would use empty factory space. It would employ workers -- OK, maybe not a bunch, but even a few is better than none at all. It's a new industry for Indiana and it fills a niche, not only here, but across the United States. If it takes off, it could potentially put Elkhart County on the map in a positive way.
But Yoder isn't the only one working to try to change the economic landscape in Elkhart County. Take a look back at The Elkhart Truth's annual Business & Industry section in the Feb. 28 edition. This year's focus was on the people and businesses who will lead the county into the future.
There's Gene Crusie and MapleNet Wireless, working with government, businesses and utilities around the United States and even overseas with wireless technology.
Eric Kanagy of The Red Post, a software company that works in the digital sign industry, has the type of energy and enthusiasm to make his company succeed and the passion to help others in the community as well.
Lucid Energy Technologies started out as a subsidiary of an RV company. When the economy began to go sour, the RV company failed, but Lucid sustained and is designing renewable energy producing systems that generate electricity from wind and water.
They hope to commercially launch their products later this year, which means expanding into full-scale production -- probably partnering with an existing manufacturer in Elkhart County.
These are just a few examples, but they are exciting instances of local economic development. And they remind us that Elkhart County is capable of being a high-tech leader -- of moving beyond our core businesses and meeting the challenge that will get us back to the type of employment numbers we're used to.