High marks for region's economy

Seven dealers brought out over 250 RV models to show to the public at the Spring Hall of Fame RV Show in Elkhart.

ELKHART — A new study ranks the Elkhart-Goshen area as one of the most dynamic metropolitan economies in the nation.

The report, published by the Walton Family Foundation this week, ranked Elkhart-Goshen fourth out of 379 areas.

It is the only area in Indiana to make the list.

The foundation ranked each community via “performance-based metrics.”  Those include an increase in jobs, higher incomes and the number of jobs at newer companies.

“This is the first time that such research has been undertaken in both scale and scope,” the foundation said in its report.

For Elkhart-Goshen, researchers noted the region’s expansion in travel, tourism and recreation.

“This is not surprising as Elkhart is the recreation vehicle (RV) capital of the world and placed fourth in Most Dynamic Metropolitans and third among small metropolitan areas,” the report states. “For example, the motor vehicle body and trailer manufacturing industry’s concentration is 191.4 times that of the U.S. overall and the sector employs 30,200 in the metro area and represents 22 percent of total jobs in the metropolitan area.”

Chris Stager, president/CEO of the Economic Development Corporation of Elkhart County, said Elkhart-Goshen making the list is a great accomplishment and specifically credited the businesses in the region and the strength of the workforce.

“The Elkhart economy rebounded strongly after the recession. The local business executives made a lot of positive strategic moves to drive their businesses forward,” he said.

“We were in the company of some well-known metros through the U.S., so we were pleased to see that Elkhart appeared on the list,” he said. “I think it shows that local businesses are reinvesting in their businesses to make them more efficient and more professional."

To maintain status as a top metro area, Stager said he believes the Elkhart-Goshen area needs to continue to identify market opportunities

“I think upskilling our workforce is critical,” he said, “and retaining a strong economy, which has benefited us.”

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