We’ve all seen the iconic image, used in nearly every “personality test” or “leadership style assessment” on earth. It’s the age old drawing, which depending on your perspective, is either that of an old woman looking sadly down to her left; or the same image, can be that of an elegant, youthful woman looking wistfully up to the sky off her right shoulder.
Economic development as a process, in an era of low unemployment rates and high occupancy rates; a generally sound economy, is a bit like that image. Success or failure can be in the eye of the beholder and its definitions are often a matter of perspective. It is a great image to consider as we evaluate the economic vitality of a Community or Region. The same picture communicates different messages and it all depends on your perspective.
The Community Leadership in Huntington County, Indiana, is able to see both images. They appreciate the good, while embracing the challenges as opportunities, not obstacles. That’s why we continue to be bullish on the County’s industrial base and economic development efforts.
It’s also why we believe the best definition of “economic development” is the one promoted by the International Economic Development Council. They believe economic development is …”a systematic effort to preserve and enhance the economic vitality of a defined community…the idea being to help promote job opportunities and capital investments which result in a better quality of life…”
Not that long ago, unemployment was high, as was the industrial vacancy rate in Huntington County. The industrial base is now restored. It’s amazing what a small County, 35,000 people, can accomplish when working together to make their lives better!
Last year, the City of Huntington was awarded not one, but two grants from the Indiana Regional Cities Initiative; one to be used to develop multi-use recreational trails and the other to transform a portion of downtown Huntington into market-rate loft apartment living complimented by creative arts and culinary studios and a center for entrepreneurial development. The nearly $12 million investment in those projects will significantly transform the quality of life in downtown Huntington.
The City’s Parks Department built a new “pump track” for bike enthusiasts and made major improvements to the City’s Veterans Memorial Park with the opening of a new Vietnam Veterans Monument, while the Street Department approved the repaving of over eight miles of streets in the Community. Huntington Municipal Airport (KHHG) recently completed a multi-million expansion of its apron while adding 2 new corporate hangers, supporting both an avionics service facility and engine service facility. Charter passenger flights are also conveniently and affordably offered via KHHG.
Huntington County, with the help of the Indiana Department of Transportation, recently cut the ribbon on a new $30 million road corridor providing the final connector linking the U.S. Hoosier Heartland Corridor of U.S. 24 (Lafayette, Indiana to Fort Wayne, Indiana) to the Fort to Port Corridor of U.S. 24 (Fort Wayne, Indiana to Toledo, Ohio).The Community boasts a new $1.4 million vocational learning center to help improve the skills of the local workforce and encourage youth to pursue careers in industry. In fact, the local high school robotics team routinely is ranked in the top ten nationally.Huntington County is a very impressive small market to consider. They have benefitted from significant FDI projects.
•Brazil – Gerdau Steel
•Canada – Onward Manufacturing Company
•France – Schneider Corporation
•Germany – Knorr-Bremse/Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems
•Japan – Marubeni/Helena Chemical
•Japan – Teijin/Continental Structural Plastics
That’s a very impressive line-up of investments, regardless of the size of the Community. In fact, over the last ten years, the Huntington County Economic Development Corporation has facilitated 109 industrial projects to prove the market’s ability to attract investment and talent.
Is Huntington County simply another small market, or an exciting opportunity? Or both? Well, it depends on your perspective. Whether we’re considering award-winning wine from the TwoEE’s Winery of Huntington County (www.twoees.com) or craft sodas from Antiqology (www.facebook.com/Antiqology) or surgical instruments from Incipio Devices (www.incipiodevices.com) or other world class products made by in Huntington County, it genuinely seems to be a Community where, regardless of the challenge, the residents and their governmental leaders work together to get the job done.
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