KEDCo Releases 2015 Report, Work Plan

Kosciusko Economic Development Corp. hopes to build this year on the 850 new jobs and more than $60 million in investment it announced in 2015.
The organization noted in its annual report and work plan released Thursday that last year’s 11 new projects were worth a combined $67.3 million in capital investment. The projects included eight expansions of existing businesses and three new prospects attracted to the county.
The 850 new jobs have an average hourly wage of $18.26, the report states. The total number of people employed in the county neared 40,000 last year – 40 percent of them in manufacturing – which the report notes is a significant increase from the 33,000 employed when KEDCo was established in 2010.
The 2015 jobs number is higher than the 562 new jobs seen in 2014, though capital investment in that year was also $102.8 million.
The county unemployment rate stayed in the 3.5 to 4.2 percent range throughout the year in 2015, an improvement from the double digits seen in 2010, and is one of the lowest rates in the state, according to the report.
The work of several committees also are highlighted in the report.
The Business Retention-Workforce Committee notes that the eight companies that expanded accounted for 700 of the new jobs last year, and over $56 million of the capital investment announced. Its plan for this year includes continuing workforce development programs such as Kosciusko Kickstart; evaluating workforce needs in the construction-subcontractor industry and examining potential programs; and continuing to support efforts with Whitley and Allen counties in creating an Orthopedic Corridor.
The Infrastructure Committee reported progress in transportation and water resources, such as a U.S. 30 upgrade being identified as a Tier 1 priority by North Central Conexus, which KEDCo was an early supporter of; and the committee bringing together city, town and county officials to review and update the transportation information for the 2020 Michiana Area Council Of Government regional plan.
Its plan for 2016 includes continued support of Conexus and promotion of U.S. 30 improvements and the creation of a four-lane limited-access Ind. 15; moving the northern Ohio, Indiana and Illinois passenger rail proposal forward; and continued support of the Warsaw Airport as a critical piece of infrastructure.
And the Small Business Entrepreneurship Committee reviewed national data on the decline of small business ownership to try to determine how to assist businesses in the county, and discussed challenges, barriers and needs with two successful small businesses, among its activity in 2015. This year it plans to conduct listening sessions in various towns to learn more about local needs and make links to agencies that can provide help; continue supporting the North Central Small Business Development Center and its small business counseling; and continuing to work with OrthoWorx on creating a medical device accelerator in the county.