April 2017: South Bend – Elkhart Region Update




On Tuesday, April 18th Startup South Bend – Elkhart (the RDA’s Entrepreneurship Committee) celebrated their first annual Regional Innovation Impact Forum. The event was held in advance of the 1st Source Commercialization Award Dinner at Gillespie Conference Center. The forum showcased ignite-style presentations designed to inspire creativity and innovation that directly impacts businesses around the region and across the country (View Slide Deck). At the same time, Startup South Bend – Elkhart also launched their new website StartupSouthBendElkhart.com.

“What a terrific event and first entrepreneurship forum,” said Amish Shah, Kem Krest, CEO and Startup South Bend-Elkhart, Board Member. “We are so grateful for the amazing presenters and to all who helped coordinate. The content was very relevant and inspiring, the energy was great and the resources in the room reiterated our mission,” said Shah. “In all, this was a great first step towards a big goal of making our region a dominant force in innovation and entrepreneurship. Wow!!”

Nitesh Chawla, the Frank M. Freimann Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Notre Dame, has been named the recipient of the 1st Source Bank Commercialization Award. Chawla received the award, which carries a $20,000 cash prize, for innovating a new data science software, Aunsight, allowing data scientists and business analysts to deliver on the business value proposition of big data analytics. Read More.



South Shore Double-Tracking Update as of April 20th:
House Bill 1144 was sent to Conference Committee who released a report that accomplished much of what our region hoped in being able to participate in the double-tracking and the development districts in a fair way together with the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority (NWIRDA), St. Joseph County will be able to contribute to the cost of the project without becoming a member of the NWIRDA.

We believe this will move forward with bipartisan support from the entire delegation along the corridor (as well as with support from the Governor). Then it will be important to follow federal funding of TIGER grants, as 50% of the overall doubletracking project is slated to come through that. If federal, state and local plans all come together, the projects could be complete by 2020. To view the Conference Committee Report Digest for EHB 1144, Click Here.



The world’s top site selection consultants held their biggest annual gathering in Tucson, AZ this past month. Michiana Partnership was in attendance, leveraging this opportunity to showcase our region.

During the annual conference, guild members and others share best practices and discuss topics such as infrastructure and workforce issues. For more information about the Site Selectors Guild, Click Here.



On Thursday March 16th, Michiana Partnership hosted a viewing of the International Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) webinar: Leveraging Regional Strategies & Resource in Economic Development. We found the webinar to be extremely valuable, and would like to share the webinar slide deck (View Here) and the related whitepaper (View Here).

We know that 2017 will continue to be a transformational year as the five regional strategy committees develop actionable initiatives that will be critical for the future of the region. A strong regional economic development body will be needed to implement these initiatives, and to that end, we continue to review the short and long term functions best served by Michiana Partnership.

Over 50 smart connected communities in northern Indiana and southwest Michigan make up the South Bend – Elkhart Region. By linking together, we can build critical mass through marketing and the many initiatives that will come out of the Regional ED Strategy Planning process.



While many parts of Indiana lost population last year, St. Joseph County and Elkhart county saw gains.

That’s according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates released, March 23rd. The release contains total population per county in 2016, including births, deaths and moving data. The data shows the state’s modest overall growth of 20,285 people, or 0.31 percent, remained stagnant.

But in the counties like St. Joseph and Elkhart that did see an increase, there’s been a momentum in job growth. Student’s also migrate to college towns like South Bend. Learn More.



Universal Trailer Corporation, one of the largest and most innovative manufacturers of lifestyle and commercial cargo trailer brands, unveiled its technology-advanced, industry-revolutionizing manufacturing plant in Bristol, Indiana on Friday, March 24th. The facility will produce Wells Cargo and Haulmark cargo trailers.

The new $25 million-plus, 200,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility is located on 43 acres in Elkhart County, Indiana and will employ over 200 new associates in an environment with modern lighting, shop floor break rooms and numerous other amenities.

The facility features several important trailer industry firsts, such as Universal Trailer’s proprietary construction material, intelligent robotic welding for square and true frames; HSLA (high-strength, low-alloy) roll formed steel, double-flanged cross members to minimize road vibrations; frames dripped in paint providing advanced anti-corrosion protection; and automotive fastener technology for perfectly aligned trailer chassis, walls and roof. All of this means that Universal Trailer will now deliver trailers with three times the life expectancy of many competitors. To learn more about Universal Trailer Corporation, Click Here.



On Monday, March 27th, nearly three dozen Hoosier companies were honored with the Governor’s Century or Half Century Business Award, recognizing each company for its longevity and service to its employees, community and the state. Locally for 2016, Hoosier Racing Tire was honored with a Half Century Award.

Hoosier Racing Tire, a provider of racing tires both internationally and domestically, was founded in 1957 by Bob and Joyce Newton. The couple began their business in an old abandoned horse barn in South Bend, Indiana, selling their tires to local racers. The Hoosier name was chosen for their company to reflect the origin of Bob’s racing roots on the short tracks of the Midwest. Today, Hoosier Racing Tire is recognized as the largest race tire manufacturer in the world. To learn more about Hoosier Racing Tire, Click Here.

“I am thrilled to celebrate this year’s honorees and their integral role in building one of the nation’s best business climates,” said Governor Eric J. Holcomb. “Together, I’m confident we will continue to take Indiana to the next level, ensuring Indiana is the best place to start a business, grow a business and get a job.”

The Governor’s Century and Half Century Business Awards honor Indians businesses that have remained in operation for a minimum of 100 or 50 consecutive years and have also demonstrated a commitment to community service. More than 1,400 companies from across the state have been recognized during the 26-year history of the award. View 2016 Award Recipients.


We are about midway through the regional economic development planning process and well along in identifying and prioritizing strategies that will advance our region in the areas of Workforce Development, Industry Growth, Entrepreneurship, Talent Attraction & Retention, and Diversity & Inclusion. Hundreds of key stakeholders have been meeting and working together to determine what can be done in each of these focus areas that will ultimately contribute to our overarching goal of increasing per capita personal income.

This work spans across the South Bend – Elkhart Region, involving the 47+ smart connected communities in northern Indiana and Southwest Michigan. With our unique geographic makeup, it is often difficult to aggregate information, particularly as we work to anticipate trends in the wages and benefits practices of companies across this labor shed.
Because the first-hand data is so critical, every other year the economic development organizations in the region administer a Regional Wages & Benefits Survey to gather compensation practices and policies from employers. The collection of up to date data helps participating employers learn how their compensation practices compare with other employers in the region and helps us recruit investment in the area by providing an accurate picture of workforce costs in the region.

During the month of May, Michiana Partnership and the economic development organizations from Elkhart, Marshall and St. Joseph counties in Indiana, as well as Berrien and Cass counties in Michigan will be reaching out to the business community to request your participation in the Regional Wages & Benefits Survey. Please take the time to complete the online survey on behalf of your company! For access and the survey code you can contact us or any other economic development organization in the region.

Thank you in advance for your participation. Although the survey is comprehensive, participating employers will receive a copy of the report and the outcome will be beneficial to your organization, your county and the region as a whole.

Best regards,

Regina Emberton