Greg Hildebrand, Executive Director of the Marshall County Economic Development Corporation appeared before the Marshall County Council Thursday evening with an update on economic indicators this year and traditional economic development which is in line with their mission statement.
Looking at the year-to-date number, Hildebrand said there has been $142 million in Capital Expenditures so far that has created 150 new jobs. He said, “Locally we are still seeing our labor force continuing to increase. That’s part of the function while our current unemployment rate is going up and it’s also kind of a hidden plus to that unemployment number coming up in that it’s making hiring for some of these manufacturers and employers a little better.”
Hildebrand spoke to the county council about business attractions and new business leads. In the second quarter, they replied to three requests for information from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IDEC). He said the request seems to be asking for larger and larger parcels of land with one looking for 1500 acres.
Hildebrand said the IDEC offered a Strategic Site Inventory Study that the MCEDC participated in, and 21 potential sites were identified in the county. They also met with utility partners including gas and electric, city utilities, rail, and a few sight selectors, and reviewed the 21 sites. During that meeting, none of the sites were eliminated although 16 were graded low, five sites were graded between a 4 and a 5 and Hildebrand said they will continue to keep them in the mix and look at what they could do to make them marketable. He said grading was determined by location, transportation access, utilities, and the number of owners of the various sites.
The Marshall County Economic Development Director said some of the people they have been entertaining leads from included renewable energy, rail, hospitality, housing, and manufacturing. He said, “I honestly can’t be more specific than that.”
Saint Joe County just announced a 3-billion-dollar EV Battery plant with GM and Samsung. He said, “We will be in the mix with their suppliers looking at locations in Marshall County.” He said with 1,700 employees housing will be a need not only by the plant in New Carlisle but the one in Kokomo because those employees are willing to travel up to 90 minutes.
Hildebrand also discussed the Business Retention and Expansion Program which is interviews with industries throughout the county. The discussions are private and confidential and the MCEDC asks about the obstacles they face daily. Before COVID, they would meet with companies every three to four years. Beginning this year, they are now touching base with a third of the companies in Marshall County every year. Hildebrand said, “While aggregated results of these interviews will be released at the end of the year, some of the common feedback received include hiring hourly production employees is improving, hiring high-skilled and high-waged positions are still problematic. Some of the positions going unfilled are engineers, human resources, production managers, and other specialized salaried positions.”