Elkhart County has a labor shortage problem

Leaders from all corners of Elkhart County -- which relies heavily on manufacturing -- are wondering where the workers of tomorrow will come from.

It’s no secret that the RV industry as well as general manufacturing continues to grow all over Elkhart County.

That was the subject of a recent roundtable discussion put on by the county's economic development corporation.

City, town and county officials talked of many company expansions and new firms locating in the county.

All of that is depleting the labor force, and that labor shortage is only expected to get worse unless something is done.

"We have a labor force shortage and there needs to be a coordinated effort to try to solve the problem,” said Mark Dobson with the Economic Development Corporation.

Dobson says so far in 2017 press releases he's received indicate a larger local workforce will be needed.

“In Elkhart County there are going to be 5,000 jobs created, so with the labor force shortage already of probably about 10,000, you know we need folks”

Elkhart Mayor Tim Neese said an Illinois-based company wants to locate in Elkhart.

“They would like to be ready to open their doors in about a month,” said Neese. “And the last thing I said to him was if there is anything that they need from City Hall, to let me know. He said they need employees.”

Having adequate housing is a big factor in keeping or attracting a labor force. Right now the city of Elkhart is working with developers to put in upscale apartments at the site of the old Elkhart Foundry, near the downtown. The project would be called Stonewater at the Riverwalk.

“It’s going to be approximately 200 units,” says Neese. “We are aggressively try to alleviate the housing concern.”

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