The managing director of the Purdue Foundry says the news of Tippecanoe County having the highest wage growth in the nation can be attributed to the growth of high-tech industries in the county. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says the county posted a 15.1 percent increase in average weekly wages in the fourth quarter compared to the same period the previous year. The professional and business services industry contributed the most to the increase and Tim Peoples says the county’s efforts to start, grow and recruit technology companies is paying off.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Peoples said the growth is the result of a number of factors.
"Certainly, the mayors of Lafayette and West Lafayette, as well as the leaders in the county, are actively participating in recruiting as well as supporting this growth," said Peoples. "I think that organizations like the Purdue Foundry, Purdue Research Park are very active in supporting these high-tech companies, both with intellectual property, with business services, as well as high-performing graduates that are coming out of the university. So I think it’s a combination of the county leaders, it’s city leaders, it’s the university and it’s the Purdue Research Foundation all working together to create the environment that attracts and keeps these high-paying, high-tech businesses."
Peoples says he believes the county can continue the upward trend in wage growth. He says the continued expansion of the Purdue Discovery Park District and the Purdue Research Park Aerospace District has the ability to not only attract outside companies, but foster the growth of new startups.
The county has seen some major jobs commitments over the past year. In April 2018, Washington-based Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories Inc. announced plans to build a 100,000-square-foot electric power research facility and create up to 300 jobs in the Discovery Park District. Earlier this month, Sweden-based Saab detailed its plans to invest $37 million to build a new manufacturing facility in the district as well.
Peoples adds there are many takeaways other counties can learn from to boost wage growth in their area.
"Whether its the government infrastructure embracing the desire to grow organically high-tech businesses either through educational opportunities or through infrastructure like coworking spaces or business incubators, whatever makes sense for their area, to support that organic growth, but then also being open to the active recruiting of technology businesses," said Peoples. "It does not necessarily have to be hundreds of thousands of square feet because in the area of, for example, of high-tech software like Indianapolis has been seeing, it doesn’t require that large manufacturing type of space. It is truly high-tech working space and if these communities can embrace that and grow to it, I think they too can realize the same growth that Tippecanoe County is seeing."
Peoples said the growth is the result of a number of factors.