State Readies PPE Marketplace to Support Hoosier Small Businesses

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.
 
Media Contact: 
Zach Weismiller – 317.999.8214 or zweismiller@iedc.in.gov

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Elkhart EDC Chief Discusses RV Industry Reopening

By: Gary Gerard|Published on: May 1, 2020|Categories: Today’s Industry News|

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.”

Source: https://rvbusiness.com/elkhart-edc-chief-discusses-rv-industry-reopening/

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South Bend Startup Wins New Venture Competition

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)

(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.

More information can be found by clicking here.

Source: https://www.insideindianabusiness.com/story/42069484/south-bend-startup-wins-new-venture-competition

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REV Group to Ramp Up Production Next Two Weeks

By: RVBusiness|Published on: Apr 27, 2020|Categories: Today’s Industry News|

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.”

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Goshen Health Foundation Starts COVID-19 Fund

Monday, April 27th 2020, 9:21 AM EDTUpdated: Monday, April 27th 2020, 1:37 PM EDT

By Reed Parker, Writer/Reporter

GOSHEN – A COVID-19 Response Fund has been established by Goshen Health Foundation to meet the needs of local workers and families affected by the pandemic. 

“We’ve had so many requests from people in the community who wanted to know how they could help, we felt it was critical to help match such heartfelt generosity with some of the areas of greatest need that otherwise might go unmet,” said Jim Caskey, Vice President, Goshen Health Foundation and Campaign Director. 

All funding raised will be used to help medical professionals with supplies, building emergency care structures or for critical support of frontline workers, and also to aid families who have lost employment.

Donations will be accepted online, or by calling (574) 364-2701.

Source: https://www.insideindianabusiness.com/story/42058103/goshen-health-foundation-starts-covid19-fund

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Dometic Donates Mask Straps to Healthcare Workers

By: RVBusiness|Published on: Apr 23, 2020|Categories: Today’s Industry News|

During this unprecedented time of COVID-19, many companies have been an aid in gathering materials and making masks for heath care professionals to use; Dometic is doing their part as well, the company announced today (April 23).

Two Dometic engineers have been using this time to create mask straps on 3D printers. The idea came from a student who sent a request for help creating these mask straps that help relieve pressure from behind the ears when wearing them all day.

Clayton Meyers, an engineer at Dometic’s Elkhart, Ind., Verdant office has been able to produce about 300 mask straps so far. A portion of the masks have gone to a local school system as they have been providing free lunches to students. The rest of the masks are intended for local hospitals and nursing homes.

Bill Rimel, an engineer located at one of Dometic’s manufacturing sites in Big Prairie, Ohio, has also been making mask straps, which have also gone to area hospitals and nursing homes.

”We want to do as much as we can to support our healthcare and essential workers during this unprecedented period,” says Scott Nelson, president of Dometic Americas. ”Our Engineers have been dedicating their time and talent for producing these mask straps. They have been able to utilize the resources that Dometic has available and provide relief from the current shortage of masks.”

Source: https://rvbusiness.com/dometic-donates-mask-straps-to-healthcare-workers/

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