The mayor of Elkhart says his community has changed its way of looking at economic development. While the long-time manufacturing hub is still reliant on the vast recreational vehicle industry, it also understands the need to create opportunities and diverse industries to attract new workers. Mayor Rod Roberson says a key is quality of life.
“The things that we’re doing for quality of place, quality of life, is starting to really reap benefits to bringing companies here as well as individuals who live here,” said Roberson on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick. “And these designations are a product of that.”
The designation the mayor referred to is bringing national attention to the northern Indiana community. In July, the Elkhart-Goshen metro area was the top-ranked U.S. market for the second quarter in the Wall Street Journal/Realtor.com Emerging Housing Markets Index.
The index analyzes key housing market data, as well as economic vitality and lifestyle metrics, to surface emerging housing markets that offer a high quality of life and are expected to see future home price appreciation.
Fort Wayne was number 4 on the list. The WSJ says the summer 2022 index revealed a noticeable “flight to affordability and higher quality of life. “
“The top of the list is populated with housing markets displaying solid economic fundamentals, in-demand amenities and lifestyle options, along with a critical dose of affordable homes,” the index noted.
Part of the economic picture in Elkhart involves a new Amazon distribution facility now under construction on the north side of the city. The $200 million investment will create 1,000 jobs once it is completed.
Still, Roberson says businesses, like THOR, Jayco, and Lippert Components, are the bedrock of the Elkhart County economy.
“The RV industry, the OEMs, and the suppliers have driven us for many decades. And we obviously want to make sure that we continue to keep them robust and strong. But what has occurred is that because of that relationship, the suppliers have gained momentum so that they are really providing diversification opportunities for many of the industries,” said Roberson.