Elkhart County supports a range of existing businesses, and targets a diversification of industry through a variety of local programs and resources. Learn more

Target Industries

Indiana ranks high in low taxes, 1st among Midwestern states for favorable corporate taxes, 4th among states for low property tax index and 9th for low individual income tax index. Learn more

Available Assets

80% of the labor force in Elkhart County is in manufacturing and Indiana ranks 3rd in the country in Manufacturing GDP for states where Manufacturing is the number 1 industry. In fact, Indiana is one of only 6 states to receive a grade of “A” for friendliness to manufacturing and logistics. Learn more

Trained Workforce

Indiana is in the median center of U.S. population with the distribution advantage that 70% of the U.S. population is within a days drive of the state. Learn more

Excellent Access

Elkhart County promotes commercial investment opportunities for innovation-based industries such as nanotechnology, robotics, alternative energy and high-tech manufacturing. Learn more

Business Resources

Elkhart County’s labor pool getting stretched further as new jobs come (Elkhart Truth)


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Good problem? Elkhart County’s labor pool getting stretched further as new jobs come

  • By JORDAN FOUTS jfouts@elkharttruth.com  

ELKHART — The leaders of the Elkhart County Economic Development Corp. warned elected officials Wednesday against letting a shortage of quality workers creep up on them.

President Mark Dobson spoke to current and newly elected officials from the county and from cities including Elkhart, Nappanee, Middlebury and Bristol about how the EDC could help them attract and retain businesses in their communities.

One of the biggest concerns now among both existing employers and potential new ones is lack of workforce, said Dobson and Chris Stager, vice president of retention and expansion.

“When you look at site selection factors, the availability of skilled labor is more important than real estate now,” Dobson said. “Without a labor pool, they write off communities… I’ve heard them say we have a hyper-crazy workforce, they’re dedicated, we just don’t have enough of them. They’re impressed with the quality, but quantity is an issue.”

He said they should take it as a warning sign when an Elkhart business creates jobs in another county, as when Lippert Components announced 125 new jobs in New Haven in 2015 with its acquisition of Signature Seating. The town had just seen 400 jobs lost with the closures of Vera Bradley and Parker Hannifin.

Dobson compared the trend to a pot of frogs on slow boil, and remarked, “I feel like there are about to be some delicious frog legs in Elkhart County.”

Elkhart Mayor Tim Neese said he’s heard the same thing from company representatives.

“I spoke this week with a potential employer, and I told him if they need anything from City Hall to let me know,” Neese said. “He said, ‘I need employees.’”

“And we need places for them to live,” observed Mike Yoder, Elkhart County commissioner.

Besides addressing the need for housing, the group also discussed ways to attract potential workers with quality of place initiatives and investments in telecom infrastructure. Dobson said the EDC has even put up billboards in other states announcing “We have jobs.”

He also said when evaluating places to move to, companies like to see that communities have a plan to train the future workforce while also addressing the needs of the current one.

Dobson and Stager addressed some ways the EDC has focused on worker education in recent years, from sponsoring Manufacturing Week in the county last year which introduced 635 eighth-graders to area manufacturers, to bringing the Leadership Training Series in 2015 delivered by the Purdue Technical Assistance Program. The series looked at challenges that both new and experienced company leaders encounter.

Dobson also encouraged the group to make an appeal to young residents to stay in or return to the communities they grew up in, since there’s more opportunity there than they realize.

“Every time you’re around the youth, remind them that we want them back,” he said. “Be like the Amish, go on a rumspringa, see the world – but come back.”




Seward Johnson Exhibition Brings 57 Sculptures for Summer Display (AmishCountry.org)


By Terry T. Mark


It’s never been done before in Elkhart County and, really, only once anywhere in the world.

The Quilt Gardens and the downtowns of Elkhart, Goshen, Nappanee, Middlebury, Bristol and Wakarusa will be the site of the largest exhibition of American artist Seward Johnson’s celebrated realistic life-size bronze sculptures, outside of his own personal retrospective.

The spectacular exhibit is comprised of 57 of Johnson’s sculptures, depicting everything from everyday life to scenes from classic impressionist paintings to iconic American images, which will be sited at downtown businesses, parks and attractions as well as Quilt Gardens. The Seward Johnson exhibit is part of the Elkhart County Convention & Visitors Bureau’s celebration of the Quilt Gardens’ 10th anniversary.

It will all be topped off — literally — by the monumental-scale sculpture titled God Bless America. Johnson’s interpretation of the well-known Grant Wood painting, American Gothic — at 25-feet-tall and 27,000 pounds — will tower over downtown Elkhart’s Central Park.

The sculptures will be viewable to the public free of charge all summer and into fall, from May 30 to October 20, 2017. It’s a great opportunity for families and friends to get together, explore the Quilt Gardens and downtowns, and take selfies with each of the sculptures. Many of the sculptures will be located at notable landmarks such as the Ruthmere Museum, Elkhart County Historical Museum, Elkhart County Courthouse and the Nappanee Pavilion. A map of the locations and more details on the sculptures can be found at www.EpicArtAdventures.com.

The public is also welcome to view the public installation of the God Bless America monumental-scale sculpture in downtown Elkhart on May 22. There will be designated viewing spots for people to take pictures and video of this 25-foot-tall sculpture being lifted into the air by a giant crane. The life-size sculptures will be installed throughout Elkhart County May 15-17.

“Public art brings so much vitality to a community. I’m excited for the many ways the Seward Johnson exhibition will bring together Elkhart County. We’ll be able to enjoy our wonderful outdoor spaces and really see our downtowns and parks in a new light,” said Brian Byrn, interim director and curator at Elkhart’s Midwest Museum of American Art.

Byrn curated the exhibit, and the museum will be the host of a behind-the-scenes exploration of Johnson’s creative process. It will be accompanied by one of Johnson’s most recognizable pieces, Forever Marilyn. Both can be seen in the museum, also from May 30 to Oct. 20 (admission charges apply at the museum, except for Sundays).

The Forever Marilyn sculpture depicts actress Marilyn Monroe in the iconic scene from “The Seven Year Itch.” That sculpture comes from Johnson’s Icons Revisited series, one of three major series he has created in during his 50-year career as a sculptor.

“This exhibition will be, above everything else, fun. But this is also a great reason for everyone in northern Indiana to explore our lively downtowns. There are so many fascinating stories here and we need to remind ourselves of that from time to time,” said Diana Lawson, chief executive officer of the ECCVB.

Because of Johnson’s acclaim in the world of public art, the ECCVB also expects many visitors from around the Midwest and the U.S. for this summer’s exhibition. Tourism and hospitality are significant contributors to Elkhart County’s economy, with visitors accounting for more than $330 million of spending at hotels, restaurants, shops and attractions in 2015, the last year for which there is data.

Johnson began his career as a painter before turning to sculpture. He has long been considered one of the most widely recognized and popular sculptors of our time and his works have developed a large and loyal following. More than 450 of Johnson’s life-size cast bronze figures have been featured in private collections and museums around the world and in prominent displays in places such as Times Square and Rockefeller Center in New York City, Pacific Place of Hong Kong, Les Halles in Paris, and Via Condotti in Rome. Johnson sculptures can be found across the globe in Kiev, Istanbul, Sydney, Osaka, Ibiza and Dalian, China.

A monumental scale sculpture of Johnson’s is on display at Pioneer Court (Michigan Avenue at the Chicago River) in Chicago, and his life-size works have been on exhibition in recent years in Carmel, Crown Point and Warsaw. At 86, Johnson continues to add new sculptures to all of his series, this year working on Churchill painting at his easel for the Icons series, as well as Einstein playing chess.

Paula Stoeke, curator for the Seward Johnson Atelier, the foundation which owns the sculpture collection, said, “Seward Johnson is very much attuned to the experience of art in the landscape, and we know that this pairing of the Quilt Gardens, the Heritage Trail, the streetscapes and the art, will be outstanding.”

Terry T. Mark is the director of communications and public relations for the Elkhart County Convention & Visitors Bureau.


The Economic Development Corporation of Elkhart County is a Public-Private Partnership serving the County, Cities, Towns, Businesses, and Residents of Elkhart County.  We are the “One-Stop Shop” for all of your Business Attraction and Expansion needs.  Our Mission is to create an economically vibrant community by recruiting, retaining, and strengthening our economic base; being a catalyst for diversification, innovation, and economic change. We accomplish our mission by working with companies looking to locate or expand in Elkhart County.


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