Media

Governor Holcomb Announces Phased State Opening: Five-Stage Roadmap to have Economy Totally Open by July 4th

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.

More information on Purdue MEP’s response to the crisis, as well as resources for manufacturers, can be found on our Coronavirus Resources for Manufacturers 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.

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

The Indiana Manufacturers Association is hosting a webinar next week, free to any Indiana manufacturer. On May 6, they will be hosting a webinar with Apex Benefits entitled Manufacturers and COVID-19: Return to the Workplace Challenges and Cost Concerns.

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.

With the global spread of COVID-19, Purdue MEP is providing educational guides and direct support to our clients to help them plan, prepare, protect, and recover their operations.

PPE Request

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:

Rectangle: Rounded Corners: Purdue MEP COVID-19 Resource Page
Rectangle: Rounded Corners: FREE Manufacturing Consultation
Rectangle: Rounded Corners: COVID-19 Manufacturing Community Discussion Board
Rectangle: Rounded Corners: Critical PPE Manufacturing Portal
Rectangle: Rounded Corners: Indiana Potential Medical Component Suppliers
Rectangle: Rounded Corners: PPE Request Form
Rectangle: Rounded Corners: Register - Managing Stress Webinar

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.

Date/Location: Online
Time: Anytime/On-demand
Meet the instructor: Click here
Register: Click here
Learn more: Click here

Online Lean Safety: Improving Your Safety Culture

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.

Date/Location: Online
Time: Anytime/On-demand
Meet the instructor: Click here
Register: Click here

Wondering how this will impact your Indiana Manufacturing business? Need help preparing? Contact Us now to help protect your business.

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INDIANA’S ROAD TO RECOVERY POLICY AGENDA

THE HOOSIER ECONOMY WILL THRIVE ONCE AGAIN.

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.

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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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RV Tech Institute Launches Website, Online Classes

By: RVBusiness|Published on: Apr 13, 2020|Categories: Today’s Industry News|

The RV Technical Institute (RVTI) launched a new website today, a key component of which is the opportunity for prospective students to register for online classes as part of the program’s Learning Management System (LMS).

RVTI announced April 8 it would begin offering the Level 1 training course online later this month. The online, interactive classes will be virtually taught by RV Technical Institute trainers through Zoom. The rollout of this new curriculum delivery system will allow RV technicians to continue to be trained and receive the only industry-wide certification while following appropriate social distancing guidelines.

The first online Level 1 class starts on April 20 and will be delivered in four-hour increments on a daily basis from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday. As RVTI moves to this virtual setting, hands-on training remains a cornerstone of the brand-new curriculum. The hands-on labs will be demonstrated during the online instruction class and students will then perform these labs on their own.

Textbook support materials will be distributed electronically through the Institute’s LMS.

Class participants will be given two weeks to complete their certification testing (included in the $275 course fee) via an on-line system using Proctor U. Those who pass the test will then become RV Technical Institute Level 1 certified.

Additionally, the online test will be available to experienced RV technicians who choose to test after reviewing the Level 1 curriculum without participating in additional training. This will allow experienced RV technicians to use their existing knowledge and skills to obtain the Level 1 certification.

For questions, please visit www.RVTI.org or email RVTI-info@rvti.org.

Source: https://rvbusiness.com/rv-tech-institute-launches-new-website-online-classes/

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$3M in fiber projects part of $7M plan, RDC hears

By JORDAN FOUTS jfouts@elkharttruth.com

Apr 11, 2020

GOSHEN — The Elkhart County Redevelopment Commission has approved $3 million in funding to install nearly 40 miles of fiber optics around Elkhart city.

Board members voted to appropriate $3 million and $10,000 from two special taxing districts toward the installation of backup fiber lines, in preparation for putting the two projects out for bids. The work is part of an estimated $7 million worth of installations planned for the Elkhart area in the next few years.

They authorized the money Thursday during a meeting held over videoconferencing. Their share of the money comes from two tax increment finance districts that border the city.

Natasha Kauffmann, redevelopment program coordinator, said they were asked to contribute funding toward one part of the larger, long-term fiber goals held by the county. The plan prioritizes public and commercial users but will eventually reach residential customers.

She remarked on the sense of urgency behind the fiber builds.

“These are projects that are, because of the way that the fiber team is focusing their work, they’re trying to get as much built in the next two, possibly three years, as possible,” Kauffmann said. “So these aren’t amounts that they’ll be asking for us in the next four or five years – they’re asking for our help now, up-front, because they’re trying to get as much infrastructure built now, as we’re really seeing a need for digital connectivity in these times.”

She said one project area is the Middlebury Street industrial area off C.R. 17, estimated to cost about $1.5 million. The other is a redundancy build connecting the county’s Northeast Corridor and Northwest Gateway TIFs, estimated at just over $1.5 million.

“And that helps to not only connect between the two TIFs, but it allows so that there’s a redundancy loop for the overall system going through,” she said of the second project. “It will also allow, over time, for the county to have more users of the county dark fiber over time in that area. This is a county asset being built within the area of Elkhart City and overlapping with areas of county jurisdiction.”

Elkhart County has been expanding its fiber network in recent months while also developing the infrastructure needed to manage it. That includes writing new policies for companies that lease strands of fiber and hiring staff to oversee daily operations.

Ben Miller, who was hired as dark fiber consultant for the county, said they’re preparing to deliver monthly reports to show things like the number of subscribers, usage, growth and revenue.

He noted that about 38 miles of fiber will be installed between the two projects that the RDC was asked to help fund.

That includes 20 miles going along S.R. 19, from Jeanwood Drive in the north to just past Mishawaka Road in the south, with a loop at California Road and Bypass Road. Another 18 miles will go into the Middlebury Street and C.R. 17 industrial area.

He explained how the build-out will benefit some City of Elkhart and county facilities, as well as making it possible for more users to connect in the future.

“We have a lot of customers that have approached us, potential users that want to use dark fiber directly, that are on the commercial side. There are some new internet service providers who want to start providing service in those areas, and they have asked us as well,” he said. “We also are rolling out a plan for small businesses now, not just the medium to large commercial customers.”

Source: https://www.elkharttruth.com/hometown/3m-in-fiber-projects-part-of-7m-plan-rdc-hears/article_fb162eda-e356-5e14-aa6b-6ff88a948ee1.html

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Elkhart County economic development efforts praised

$207K earmarked for Economic Development Corporation funding

Jul 16, 2018

GOSHEN — Mounting talk of trade wars coupled with whispers of slowdowns in the automotive and RV industries have some in Elkhart County voicing concerns about what may be in store for the local economy moving forward. But according to one local business expert, those concerns are largely unfounded.

Mark Dobson, president of the Economic Development Corporation of Elkhart County, provided county council members Saturday with an extensive look at his organization’s recent business attraction and expansion work both in the county and the surrounding region.

A public-private partnership serving the cities, towns, businesses and residents of Elkhart County, the EDCEC defines its mission as working to create an economically vibrant community by recruiting, retaining and strengthening the county’s economic base and being a catalyst for diversification, innovation and economic change. It pursues this mission by working with companies looking to locate or expand in Elkhart County.

Dobson’s update Saturday was provided as a lead-in to his request for the EDC’s annual funding contribution by the county, this year in the amount of $207,199. The request was later approved by the council in a unanimous vote.

According to Dobson, while it’s true there is a slowdown happening within the RV industry, that slowdown is not necessarily a sign of hard times ahead.

“You have heard rumors of layoffs, I’m sure, and there have been some,” Dobson said of the slowdown. “I have spoken to both of the locally headquartered folks, and also the folks outside of the area. There are a couple of significant things that have caused that.”

Among those, Dobson said, is a lack of technicians at the dealership level.

“So when you go in to purchase your RV, the prep effort is delayed right now because there is a lack of technicians in the market,” Dobson said. “There was also quite an exuberant 2017 RV Open House where virtually everything was ordered, and now the dealers are at the point of the 2018 RV Open House about to happen, and they are desirous to have the 2019 models, rather than the existing ones. So they are pushing back a little bit right now, saying, ‘Please, lets slow down a little bit.’”

But for those who might be tempted to view this slowdown as a portent to impending economic decline, Dobson urged caution.

“It’s actually a very healthy pause,” Dobson told the council. “It’s a time where they’re going through some process improvements and changing some things. So this is not the other shoe dropping. This is just a very healthy pause. Even at this level, they’re going to have 2018 as a record year unless the wheels completely fall off the buggy, and that would have to be something catastrophic. But this will still be a record year for the RV industry. So these are all very exciting things.”

Speaking specifically to the work of the EDC over the past half-year, Dobson again had encouraging words for the council.

“Our region, we’re St. Joseph, Elkhart, Marshall, Kosciusko and Fulton counties. We still represent over 50 percent of the projects that IEDC is working on (in the region),” Dobson said of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. “Year-to-date we have seven project wins accounting for about 700 new jobs to the market. In fact, we were working on one this morning that would be a very significant impact as well. There are both RV and non-RV related projects in these project wins.”

Dobson said the EDC is also working on 12 active attraction projects within the county, and has even been working with a foreign direct consultant in trying to appeal to companies outside of the U.S. to relocate to the region.

“We are seeing some interest in locating in the United States,” Dobson said. “We also have 28 business retention and expansion projects we’re working on throughout the county. These are all businesses, all classes, again in the industrial and manufacturing space. We don’t help Kohls or Target expand, but we do help the manufacturing space with what’s going on there.

“Then, as always, we respond to state leads that fit Elkhart County,” Dobson added of the EDC’s work. “We have submitted 20 RFIs to the state this year. These would be the types of projects that would be huge. These are the 500,000 square feet, 1,000 job-type opportunities.”

One particularly positive thing that has come out of the EDC’s work this year is the group’s increasing interaction with site consultants from outside of the region, Dobson explained, noting that it has long been an EDC goal to get Elkhart County’s name outside of the Elkhart County area.

“We all know how good this county is, but we weren’t doing a great job necessarily of marketing ourselves to the world,” Dobson said of the EDC’s earlier work. “Site consultants now are coming to us with project opportunities, they’re asking us if certain buildings fit… We’re having a level of engagement with site consultants that we’ve not had in the past. So I think we are starting to bear that fruit, and what will be helpful about that is that will help us find some of that diversity in the industry outside of what we do so well in this community.”

Speaking to the well-known labor shortage in Elkhart County, Dobson pointed to things such as the EDC’s www.elkhartcountyworks.com website and a push to integrate ex-offenders into the marketplace as some of the organization’s ongoing efforts to try and help bridge that labor gap.

“We’ve had good interest and success early on with bringing ex-offenders to the marketplace or to employers,” Dobson said. “These are not people who are just released from jail and said good luck and goodbye. They have to have completed some leadership training, they’ve had to get a certificate while incarcerated, they’ve had to actually go through a process. The leadership training is actually the same that we do in our office.”

And according to Dobson, that push to tap the county’s ex-offender pool is paying off.

“We were not sure that employers would be enthused, but they seem more enthused about that as compared to the efforts we’ve been going through to bring retiring veterans from the military to the community,” Dobson said. “We’ve probably spent more time on the veterans, and have had the least amount of success. It’s just been a challenge translating the skills of the military to the skills necessary in the market, and the market was so heated up that businesses didn’t have time to do that translation. But we continue to work with INvets. It’s a statewide effort to bring vets here, and we continue to participate with them.”

Rounding out the EDC’s top goals for 2018 are plans for an in-depth study of the county’s industry diversity, Dobson explained.

“We know we are the best in the world at RVs. Nobody does better than this region building RVs,” Dobson said. “These same companies though are more diverse today than ever, and what we really don’t know, because of the way the federal government reports businesses, is how diverse, really, are we? We do need to do a better analysis of that, and that’s something we’ll launch in the fourth quarter of this year.”

Following Dobson’s presentation, Councilman John Letherman joined others on the council in praising the EDC’s work, noting that he feels the organization has really upped its game in recent years, and the results are evident.

“You’ve kind of moved up to the next level for the last couple three years, and it’s really great to see you taking charge of some things that maybe in some ways we hadn’t even thought about before,” Letherman said.

For more information about the EDC and its work, visit www.elkhartcountybiz.com.

Source: http://www.goshennews.com/news/local_news/elkhart-county-economic-development-efforts-praised/article_47cd4d35-e78c-56ac-87b0-b43cd5574587.html

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ELKHART COUNTY COUNCIL; Hundreds more RV jobs are coming; C.R. 17 extension planning begins

Jul 14, 2018

GOSHEN — More RV-related jobs could soon be on their way to Elkhart County.

Elkhart County Council members approved a resolution Saturday morning for East To West And North To South RV, a division of Forest River, supporting a 5-year tax phase-in agreement that could bring 325 new full-time jobs to the county.

A tax phase-in is a partial or temporary exemption of a company from having to pay property taxes with the express purpose of stimulating economic development.

Introducing the phase-in request was Mark Dobson, president of the Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County.

“We are competing for an opportunity for the second phase, which would be the first expansion, of East 2 West And North To South RV,” Dobson said of the project, which is located at the intersection of John Weaver Parkway and C.R. 6 in Elkhart. “This represents kind of a new way to do things. It’s simplification of the manufacturing process, simplification of the floor plans, especially at an entry level, which should result in a higher quality recreational vehicle and cut down on the flaws as they come out of the factory.”

Dobson noted that building has already commenced on the company’s first two facilities, and the county will be competing for the third and fourth buildings the company has planned for construction.

“I’m very excited about what this could mean, because just sort of from form and function, quite often in a trailer operation, there are 28 floor plans with 50 different color combinations, and you could imagine what that does to cost and quality situations when you have so many variations coming down the line,” Dobson said. “There will be fewer floor plans, fewer options, it should streamline the manufacturing process, it should improve the skill of the trades of the people who are working on them, bring something to the market at a little bit lower cost than the competition, and I think it represents kind of a strengthening of the RV process.”

 

Full article: http://www.goshennews.com/news/local_news/elkhart-county-council-hundreds-more-rv-jobs-are-coming-c/article_9fe22e88-6a89-5f1c-af0d-a5badbc37ea0.html

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Elkhart development could bring new cutting-edge medical services to region

By Ed Semmler | South Bend Tribune – Apr 22, 2018

ELKHART — A proposed $175 million complex on the east side of Elkhart could bring several unique medical service providers, including a company that specializes in proton therapy for cancer, to the region.

Officials took the first step last week to turn a 117-acre parcel at the northeast corner of County Road 17 and the St. Joseph Valley Parkway or Bypass into a Tax Increment Financing or TIF district. The measure would allow real estate taxes collected on the new development to be used for roads and other necessary improvements and services.

Proposed Medical Complex
 Elkhart officials have largely kept details close to the vest. However, they say an announcement could come early this summer and that the project would include four medical buildings, with possibly more to come in the future. It could also bring hundreds of new medical-related jobs.

Some of those medical services could include proton cancer therapy, brain trauma, memory care and treatment for opioid addiction, officials said. There also could be schools focused on nursing and other aspects of medicine.

Proton therapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses protons — rather than X-rays — to attack tumors. Because protons allow for more precision, there are fewer side effects, in large part because there is less damage to healthy tissue, according to the National Association for Proton Therapy.

There currently are fewer than 30 locations in the United States with proton therapy, but there are about 10 more under construction or in development. Proton therapy treats many solid cancer tumors, including tumors of the brain, central nervous system, eye, gastrointestinal tract, head and neck, liver, lung, prostate, spine and some breast tumors, the association said, adding that it’s especially important when treating children because of their smaller size.

Jim O’Connor, president of the Philadelphia company that will develop the land in Elkhart under the name 1720 Land Development Co., said three medical service providers have already committed to the project and a fourth is very close.

“The chances of this not happening are almost non-existent,” O’Connor said. “But we’re precluded from providing details because of non-disclosure agreements.”

The land was assembled more than 10 years ago with the idea of using it for medical-related purposes. But development fell through largely because of the recession, said Mark Dobson, head of the Economic Development Corporation of Elkhart County.

But a couple of years ago, city and county officials began talking to a developer who liked the site, in large part because of the regional connectivity created by the Bypass and the Indiana Toll Road about four miles to the north.

Dobson confirmed that the services being proposed for the site will largely complement or enhance the medical strength of the region rather than compete against existing services.

The project could eventually grow to nine buildings and could support as many as 300 to 500 jobs, he said. That’s especially important to Elkhart County, which has been been interested in diversifying its manufacturing-based economy since it was hammered during the recession.

Planners also expect the development might attract hotels, restaurants and additional offices in much the same way new businesses sprang up around St. Joseph Regional Medical Center when it relocated to Mishawaka.

Jeff Rea, president and CEO of the South Bend Regional Chamber of Commerce, said the Elkhart site is a good one for medical development because it offers easy access for most of the region. In that way, it’s similar to the land that was developed for medical use on the south side of Mishawaka at Elm Road and the Bypass several years ago.

And if the project enhances existing services or brings new ones to the market, the entire region will benefit since it will augment our standing as a regional medical center.

“Health care and higher education have been two of the fastest growing segments of our local economy in recent years,” Rea said. “If the Elkhart project adds something new, it could help the entire market.”

Source: https://www.southbendtribune.com/news/business/elkhart-development-could-bring-new-cutting-edge-medical-services-to/article_824835cf-2f57-5f31-9981-ba26bec10859.html

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Elkhart aquatics center aims to build community with health, fitness, wellness offerings

By Marshall V. King

The Elkhart Health, Fitness, Aquatics and Community Center will be a new home for high school swim teams and community members wanting to socialize and get a workout.

It’s also designed to be a gathering spot for book clubs, card games, yoga classes, and people working on their health, whether it’s to maintain it or get it back.

The plan is for the programming to be crafted as the building itself is constructed, but Pete McCown, president of the Community Foundation of Elkhart County, can envision on any given day, the center will have volleyball league games, community open swimming, triathletes gathering to train, a healthy cooking class and a Medicare enrollment event.

Full article: http://vibrantelkhartcounty.org/2018/04/05/elkhart-aquatics-center-aims-to-build-community-with-health-fitness-wellness-offerings/

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