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Past actions yield payoffs

December 3, 2006

All the planning and hard work done in an effort to spur Wayne County’s economic growth appears to be finally paying dividends.

Projects such as Richmond Village and the commercial corridor along East Main Street that is now home to Kohl’s, Walgreen’s and Fisch’s Big Boy, have had a positive influence on the local economy.

It is also expected that development projects taking place on local college and hospital campuses will also benefit the region’s economy. At IU East, there is a renewed emphasis on biosciences while Ivy Tech is strengthening its health care programs and adding agriculture and agribusiness programs. Meanwhile, the redevelopment of the current Reid Hospital site by it new owners is expected to bring more jobs to the region while ultimately providing new business services such as lab space for life science research.

Other initiatives such as the transformation of the former Carpenter Bus factory into the Rose City Business Park, the migration of companies such as Dot Foods, Yukiya USA Gasket & Sealing Co., and TBK America into the region, and expansion at Autocar, Taconic Farms, Osborne International, Howa, Johns Manville, and Innatech, provide further evidence of economic vitality. In addition, Honda’s new Greensburg plant is expected to benefit auto parts manufacturers within a 100-mile radius.

Meanwhile, there have been 33 new housing starts in Richmond valued at $6.28 million and 21 new commercial business starts valued at $14.3 million during the first nine months of the year.

Despite all of this, officials have identified several interesting trends which have caused them to remain cautiously optimistic. For example, while the number of manufacturing companies doing business in the region is growing, the process improvements made possible by technological advances will keep job growth relatively flat. In fact, statewide, there has been a 6% decrease in manufacturing employment while the gross state product in that sector increased 53%, a trend also reported by many local companies.

Manufacturing also remains the region’s best paying sector with an average weekly pay of $760. This compares to $368 in the service sector and $614 in the health care sector.

Over the last ten years, unemployment in Wayne County has generally been nearly 1% higher than the Indiana state average.  It is hoped that initiatives such as the Richmond-Wayne County Chamber of Commerce’s Life Science Initiative will help to maintain current employment levels. It is also clear that Wayne County officials must be more proactive in encouraging entrepreneurialism so that initiatives such as this can succeed. Similarly, county officials must capitalize on the development that has already taken place in the agriculture and agribusiness sectors.

Finally, as business grows, the city of Richmond must be prepared to make improvements to its infrastructure to support this growth.

This information has been provided by Rhett Baumgartner Commercial Real Estate to keep our clients and customers informed about our company and the Richmond, Wayne County, Indiana real estate market.