Annual Luncheon Honors Industrial Clients January 9, 2020 Report The Huntington County Economic Development Corporation recently honored industrial clients for their projects in 2019 at a luncheon on the campus of Huntington University. The economic development agency facilitated nineteen (19) industrial projects representing a combined investment of $59.6 million in Huntington County, creating 182 net new jobs at an average hourly wage of $23.30. "2019 was a record year of growth for our clients," said Mark Wickersham, executive director for the Huntington County Economic Development Corporation. "Our previous record was just over $40 million and since 2008, our clients in the industrial base have invested nearly a half-billion dollars in our County. Our industries are doing incredible things. We are so lucky to be blessed by their hard work," he added. "Economic development is a collaborative, team sport," Wickersham continued. "The elected officials have been super and we're all in this together. We're a team. No economic development strategy can fix bad public policies and no industry is going to invest in our Communities simply to fix our problems, pay our taxes, or make charitable donations. They come here to operate profitable businesses. If that happens, good things follow and that continues to be the commitment of our Agency and Community's elected officials," Wickersham said. The industrial community was ravaged by the "Great Recession." Nearly 60% of existing industrial facilities were idled. Nearly 3,500 Huntington County residents were unemployed. Things are different today. Over 98% of industrial facilities have been redeveloped and just over 500 people were unemployed per the November unemployment report (the most recent available at this writing). Also, employers within 10 miles of downtown Huntington, currently have 171 immediate job openings being advertised and within 25 miles there are over 3,000 immediate job openings, according to internet job posting site indeed.com. "I never would have predicted in 2008 that we'd have this tight of a labor market and so few existing marketable vacancies in the industrial parks. Getting to where we are today took 138 industrial projects totaling nearly a half-billion dollars in investments," said Wickersham. "It's taken over 40 years for our current industrial locations to mature, so this is a long-term process. There's no magic wand to create industrial growth but there are strategic things we do constantly which put us in a position to be competitive. The work never stops," he said. The Huntington County elected officials and those from the City and Towns in the County have all encouraged growth and worked together as a team, especially since the "Great Recession." New industrial greenfield sites are available at several locations throughout the County as a result of team-work. Land-use planning, infrastructure development and planning as well as dozens of "behind the scenes" efforts of due diligence are constantly being done. Numerous small businesses and downtown buildings have been re-developed. The young people in our Communities have assumed leadership roles and are doing impressive things in their work and educational careers. "Industry and agriculture continue as the backbone of our tax base but there are also numerous small businesses and non-profits contributing immensely to our economic quality of life. We are so lucky to be the home of Huntington University, Parkview Huntington Hospital, Huntington Municipal Airport and hundreds of other wonderful assets. Huntington County is a great place to live, work and play," Wickersham remarked. Click here to read a list of the 2019 clients.