300 NIBCO Parkway, Suite 201 • Elkhart, IN 46516 map
The EDC of Elkhart County will leverage our entrepreneurial spirit, expertise and regional resources to develop a more prosperous community through a diversified, resilient and knowledge based economy.
The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Coping with this stress will help your organization become stronger. In this upcoming free workshop, you’ll learn how stress affects the body and assess your own stress level. You’ll also learn about tools for identifying sources of stress and learn proven techniques for managing stress. This is a condensed training session of our full managing stress training.
To participate in this online offering, please complete the registration form to the right. All participants will receive webex instructions the day of the event.
The Governor announced that majority of the state will begin to enter what he refers to as Stage 2 of a 5-phased reopening of the economy on Monday, May 4th. Marion and Lake Counties may move to Stage 2 on May 11th. Cass County may begin move to Stage 2 on May 18th.
At-risk Hoosiers, including those over age 65, should remain at home at this time. Stage 2 requires a gradual elimination of restrictions, depending upon a variety of circumstances.
Even upon reaching Stage 5 on July 4th, the Governor indicated that social distancing will still be required and remote work will still be encouraged. The Governor is still working on a plan for the next school year.
All remaining manufacturing businesses may open upon moving to Stage 2. Detailed guidelines and timeframes for the Governor’s plan may be found at the Back on Track Indiana website.
Purdue MEP – Providing direct support to help plan, prepare, protect, and recover manufacturing operations
Since March 2020, Purdue MEP has worked via our Critical PPE Manufacturing Initiative with real-time information, resources, and tools related to the efforts to manufacture urgently-needed medical PPE during this evolving global pandemic. Every day, we are helping companies remove barriers to PPE production to get critical supplies into the hands of front-line healthcare workers and their patients.
Over 100 companies are utilizing these services and we plan to assist more in the critical days and weeks to come. For examples of our work, visit our Success Story page.
Success Spotlight – Purdue MEP – A National Resource
Purdue MEP is not only helping with COVID-19 PPE efforts here in Indiana – we are also collaborating with MEP Centers across the nation to provide PPE to frontline healthcare workers.
Purdue MEP recently worked with the Virginia MEP Center to assist a hospital in their state. Purdue MEP connected the hospital with suppliers who were able to provide them with coveralls, face shields, and infrared thermometers.
A North Carolina medical organization recently needed a source for goggles. Purdue MEP was able to provide them with a local Indiana company that had the ability to supply them with the needed items.
Free Webinar Next Week from the Indiana Manufacturers Association
Success Spotlight – Continuing Direct Assistance to Indiana Hospitals
An Indiana hospital needed a supply of fingertip pulse oximeters to provide to discharged COVID-19 patients to monitor their health as they continue to recover. Purdue MEP was able to successfully connect the hospital to a company with an available supply of these useful diagnostic tools.
Resource List Available on Purdue MEP Site for Employers
Purdue MEP is closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation. Our greatest concern is for the health, safety, and well-being of our employees, our clients and their staff, and our communities. In this current state, we remain fully committed to our mission of serving Indiana manufacturers.
If your organization is in need of PPE to operate, please submit your company’s information on this form, and one of our staff members will be in touch to assist your company.
Managing Stress Webinar by Purdue MEP, May 11th 1pm to 1:30pm – FREE
The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Coping with this stress will help your organization become stronger. In this workshop, you’ll learn about how stress affects the body and assess your own stress level. You’ll also learn tools for identifying sources of stress and learn proven techniques for managing stress.
To participate in this online offering, please complete this registration form. All participants will receive WebEx instructions the day of the event.
Purdue COVID-19 MEP Resources:
Online Problem Solving Course
In any workplace, problems arise every day that need to be solved. In a manufacturing environment, solving problems can be challenging due to the large number of interrelated systems that exist in the typical manufacturing plant. For example, is a high defect rate due to issues with incoming materials, operator techniques, machine settings, or all of these?
In this course, you’ll learn about how the Plan-Do-Check-Act method of problem solving, the A3 problem solving tool, and the root-cause analysis technique form a foundation for effective problem solving. You’ll also learn how to use additional problem solving tools, including Pareto charts and fishbone diagrams. Together, this new knowledge and skill will help you solve problems in a more streamlined and efficient manner, making you a valuable resource within your organization.
In manufacturing environments, a proactive approach to safety, with involvement from employees at all levels, can increase employee productivity and commitment, save money, and improve the organization’s reputation. In this course, you’ll learn how lean manufacturing concepts, such as eliminating the eight wastes, can be used to improve safety; you’ll also learn the fundamentals of building a culture of safety commitment as opposed to compliance.
Prior to the pandemic, Indiana was enjoying a 20-year economic success story that empowered the state to become a leader in the Midwest and a national competitor. To assist in re-establishing that status, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce has formalized a robust public policy agenda of potential actions to help ensure short-term relief and long-term economic growth for businesses.
Governor Eric Holcomb outlined the next steps this afternoon in getting the state back to business. The five-phase plan, called Back on Track Indiana, details a comprehensive process for reopening the economy, continued social distancing guidelines and more. Advancement to the next phase is based on continuing evaluation of four key health principles.
“What Governor Holcomb outlined today is a thoughtful, comprehensive approach that manages to achieve that delicate balance of recognizing that businesses have to start resuming operations while doing so in the safest way possible for employees, as well as customers,” says Kevin Brinegar, Indiana Chamber president and CEO.
“When business suffers, employees and their families feel it – and this period has been especially hard for almost everyone. We have to begin to return to some sense of normalcy, and the Governor’s gradual stages are the best way to achieve that.”
· Full details on the Back on Track Indiana web site
More than 25,000 visits have been made to the Indiana Chamber’s resources page, which earlier today converted to the Road to Recovery focus. It includes this two-page Chamber outline and enhanced policy agenda. We encourage you to check back often for additional information.
NDIANAPOLIS (May 1, 2020) – Governor Eric J. Holcomb today announced a new marketplace for personal protective equipment (PPE) that will serve as an added resource for Indiana small businesses returning to work in the coming weeks. The Indiana Small Business PPE Marketplace, which is expected to launch next week, will ensure reliable access to PPE for small businesses and nonprofits lacking the resources needed to comply with safe workplace guidance during the reopening.
“As we look toward a safe and responsible reopening across the state, we’re working to remove barriers for entrepreneurs and small business owners that could limit or delay progress,” Gov. Holcomb said. “The Indiana Small Business PPE Marketplace is another tool that will help support small businesses during this unprecedented time, ensuring they are able to continue operating while providing needed safety measures to protect workers and customers alike.”
The Marketplace, developed by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) in partnership with the Indiana Small Business Development Center and the Indiana Office of Technology, will leverage PPE that is being manufactured and sourced by Indiana businesses across the state to help support supplies.
In order to be eligible to utilize the Marketplace, an organization must:
Be a business or nonprofit organization registered to do business in Indiana with the Indiana Secretary of State;
Employ less than 150 associates; and
Be identified in the reopening plan as an entity that must use PPE as a condition of operating in order to comply with safe workplace requirements.
All businesses and nonprofits are encouraged to first source and procure PPE on their own with the Marketplace serving as an alternate backstop for employers. While the state will make every effort to provide needed supplies, it cannot guarantee the integrity of the PPE supply chain due to increasing demands worldwide. All requests will be evaluated and fulfilled based on work environment risk profile, stock availability, and the number of outstanding requests. At times, partial or delayed fulfillment of requests may occur.
The Indiana Small Business PPE Marketplace is another step forward for the IEDC, which has been working to secure PPE for the state’s hospitals, first responders, long-term care facilities and healthcare providers treating COVID-19 patients. To date, the state has secured commitments for more than 7.84 million pieces of PPE – up from 6.3 million reported last week – with more than 2 million items already delivered to the Indiana State Department of Health for distribution.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, Indiana is home to approximately 104,335 small businesses that employ 941,578 Hoosiers across the state. To learn more about COVID-19 resources and no-cost counseling available to Indiana entrepreneurs and small businesses, visit isbdc.org/indianacovid19smallbusiness.
As the RV industry works to reopen amid myriad procedural changes wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic, staying abreast of current conditions and providing support in any way possible is how the head of the Economic Development Corporation of Elkhart County (EDC) described his organization’s role.
“We have been speaking to – I guess the ‘Big Three’ is the best way to describe them – and we’ve tried to stay apprised of what their plans are,” said Chris Stager, EDC president and CEO. “We have discussed some of their PPE needs and we have discussed some spacing issues, but they obviously have access to some of the same information that we do.”
He said the focus is to have the safest work environment possible as the industry reopens next week He believes it will be a phased-in approach based on which elements of the supply chain are ready to support the industry.
And what an industry.
In 2018, according U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, 90% all U.S. RV manufacturing happened in Elkhart County. According to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, prior to the pandemic there were more than 70,000 manufacturing jobs in the county. Total jobs exceeded 137,000. Elkhart County represents 3% of the Indiana’s population, yet accounted for 13.5% of the state’s manufacturing jobs. Some 18,000 Elkhart County workers filed unemployment claims over the past two months. Depending on April numbers, the county’s unemployment rate could reach 15%. Before the pandemic, the rate was 2.7%.
“Obviously, we know that along with the RV sector, we’re (Elkhart County) tied to the automotive sector, and we don’t have real clear delineation from the automotive sector, exactly, of their timing for coming back,” Stager said.
While, clearly, all industry players are talking to their suppliers, Stager noted that because some of Elkhart County’s supply chain works in both automotive and RV sectors, the EDC is trying to assist by being a centralized clearinghouse of information on supply and compliance issues across all industries.
“Pretty much every manufacturer has told us on the way coming back that production will be based on their projections,” he said. “It’s no different than it was a year ago. They’re going to look at what the dealer inventories are and try to be smart about how they run their manufacturing.” Stager said the EDC is excited to see the plants reopening and sees the potential for an upswing going forward.
“The RV sector may benefit from some of the quarantine policies that are out there,” he said, as consumers eschew overseas travel, cruise ships and airlines. “How that all parlays itself into actual sales, we have to wait and see. Discretionary income, I guess, would be out there to do that. Certainly it makes sense from a lot of perspectives that people will want to control the environment they’re in. I think we’ll see much more domestic travel.”
Looking ahead in a support role for the RV industry, Stage said the EDC is focused on workforce development. His organization works with the Purdue Minority Engineering Program (MEP).
“Though Purdue hasn’t had a ton of interaction with the OEM sector, we are working at how you rework a production line so that social distancing is happening,” he said, “Or how you re-engineer the value stream on the manufacturing line to make it safer and more compliant.” He also mentioned that the EDC was “very pleased” to see the RV Industry Association establish its training facility in Elkhart.
On the technology front, he noted the COVID-19 crisis has likely changed the way technology will be integrated into the workforce and the EDC already was working toward improvements in local technology infrastructure.
“As a countywide initiative, we started a year ago to make sure that all of our manufacturing partners have good broadband,” he said. “We’re working on a local fiber connection and some of our supply chain partners – Lippert and a few others – have expressed interest in that and some of our OEMs have expressed interest in that.”
He said in the near future, “We will continue to see more automation creep into the production processes and better management of labor.”
Prior to the pandemic, Elkhart County enjoyed extremely low unemployment, but where that number winds up after the pandemic isn’t clear. In any case, EDC is prepared to confront any workforce problems.
“As an organization, we have a tool called Elkhart County Works, he said. “It’s aggregates Indeed, Monster, Career Builder and the state job lines. We’re updating that web page so that if we have pockets of businesses that are looking to hire, or workers who were displaced because of the pandemic, they’ll have a resource where they can go to single spot to look for work or workers.”
Employers with an approved internship may receive state matching funds by hiring students, eligible to receive state financial aid, for a resume-building, experiential, paid internship. CHE is partnering with Indiana INTERNnet to better match students and employers to maximize each student’s academic success and career achievement and to assist employers in finding the perfect fit for their team.
Wednesday, April 29th 2020, 10:19 AM EDT Updated: Wednesday, April 29th 2020, 10:34 AM EDT By Mary Willkom, Writer/Reporter
(photo courtesy of the University of Notre Dame IDEA Center)
SOUTH BEND – A South Bend-based technology startup has won the University of Notre Dame’s McCloskey New Venture Competition. Viewtique, which has developed a platform to support locally-owned fashion boutiques, took home the $50,000 grand prize from Startup South Bend – Elkhart and Elevate Ventures.
Viewtique is a website that lets users browse, shop, and earn rewards from area fashion boutiques. The startup says its mission is to make local boutique shopping as accessible as possible to shoppers. The website currently features 11 boutiques, and the startup says it plans to add more soon.
Viewtique says it will forgo any profits while stay-at-home orders are in place, making the website a great way to shop local fashion during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Viewtique team is thrilled to have secured the Startup South Bend – Elkhart/Elevate Ventures Grand Prize,” said Viewtique co-founder, Mike Cali. “We’re putting that money right to work for our boutique partners and for this community by building an online experience that helps local shoppers consider shopping local boutiques first,” said Cali. “We’re so glad SUSBE and Elevate Ventures decided to award their prize to a company dedicated to helping local boutiques thrive.”
Event organizers say 13 teams were awarded more than $400,000 in cash and in-kind prizes during a livestream ceremony of the competition.
“In my mind, Viewtique is creating a double win for the region: a high potential technology startup that also meaningfully supports the continued viability of our local retailers. This value proposition is compelling in general but is particularly meaningful in our current COVID-19 environment as we all do our best to shop locally,” said Susan Ford, Startup South Bend – Elkhart board member and Graham Allen Partners director.
The competition began in 2001 with 70 teams and $30,000 in awards. Since then, more than 2,286 teams with 7,000 participants have been awarded over $1.65 million in prizes.
Thor Industries Inc. donated 10,000 KN95 masks for use by front-line first responders and in long-term care facilities in Elkhart County, Ind., according to reporting today (April 29) by WSBT-TV, South Bend.
And South Bend’s ABC-57 is reporting other companies – including Forest River Inc., which provided a travel trailer – are helping Bashor Children’s Home serve at-risk kids throughout the region.
Jen Tobey, Elkhart County Emergency Management director, made the Thor announcement, saying, “That was phenomenal.” She added that while the donation will greatly help, more masks are needed as demand is on the rise. “I am pretty excited about that. We probably could use 20K, but we are gladly taking 10. It puts a very big dent in the (shortage of) supplies that we can offer to our front-line, first responders as well as our long term care facilities,” she said.
Elkhart, Ind.-based Thor Industries Inc., through its subsidiaries, is the world’s largest manufacturer of recreational vehicles.
Bashor Children’s Home in Elkhart County has been a residential, educational and preventative service provider for at-risk children for the past 97 years. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the state tasked them with creating an isolation zone where kids could live if they or their families contracted the illness, without spreading the illness to others on campus. They say they were able to make the necessary changes within days all because the community immediately answered to help.
“We reached out to the community which has been so generous and gracious to us “said Director of Development, Steve Riikonen “People were making masks, donating face shields, making gowns for the staff to wear. We also reached out to Forrest River who loaned us a travel trailer because the one thing our campus didn’t have was a shower for the kids.”
Since Bashor is considered an essential business – with 70 kids already living on campus plus many staff members – a safe, clean quarantine space was an immediate need. The facility couldn’t just shut down due to the pandemic. “We have 70 kids to look after. We can’t just say everyone is going home and working from home” said Riikonen “We still have to show up everyday.” He said the generosity of Elkhart County businesses “stands the test of time. They respond to the need of the community. They are so very generous and so willing to help out where ever they can.”
Specialty vehicle manufacturer REV Group announced today (April 27) it plans to resume operations at its recreation vehicle facilities that manufacturers the American Coach, Fleetwood RV, Holiday Rambler, Lance Camper, Midwest Automotive Designs and Renegade RV brands.
Normal production at the four plants, located in Indiana and California, was suspended March 23. Midwest Automotive Designs started production the week of April 20, and Renegade RV began Monday, April 27. Production of American Coach, Fleetwood RV and Holiday Rambler motorhomes is scheduled to begin Monday, May 4. Lance Camper, located in Lancaster, Calif., has a tentative restart date of Monday, May 18.
“The recreation supply chain is starting to open up again with several key suppliers returning to work this week,” stated Ian Walsh, chief operating officer, REV Group. “Our plan is to slowly ramp up production over the coming weeks, while also protecting the safety of our employees, at a cadence that is in line with material supply and customer demand across these recreation brands and facilities.”