Huntington County Featured in Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly

Fort Wayne, Indiana --
March 27, 2009
The March 27-April 9 issue of the Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly features a five page focus on Huntington County.  The section begins on page 17 and includes the following article written by HCUED Executive Director, Mark Wickersham.



By Mark Wickersham, Executive Director, Huntington County United Economic Development Corporation (HCUED)

Generations of Hoosiers have long appreciated Huntington County for its location, people, commerce and lifestyle. Native Americans of the Miami Tribe were the first to enjoy the County named in honor of Samuel Huntington, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. This region was the key center connecting historic trade routes between the Upper Great Lakes and the Mississippi River Basin.

Today, Huntington County is connected to the world via the NAFTA Corridor of I-69, the U.S. Highway 24 Hoosier Heartland Industrial Corridor, and Norfolk-Southern’s Class 1 line. Huntington Municipal Airport with its 5,001 foot runway, new terminal and low fuel costs welcomes pilots from throughout North America. Its economic heritage often put Huntington County on center stage as the Nation’s economy grew.

The Wabash & Erie Canal was the longest canal in the Country when it opened, bringing unmatched commercial activity and wealth to the region. The railroad industry arrived later leading to more growth. Huntington County’s natural resources further propelled the development of the region, being rich in natural gas, petroleum, and limestone deposits.

Huntington County citizens have made major contributions to our Nation. The landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, Ex-Parte Milligan, determined that as long as Civil Courts were functioning, a civilian, Huntington’s Lambdin P. Milligan, could not be tried in military tribunals. In the 1970s J. Edward Roush as a Member of Congress established the Nation’s 911 Emergency Response system. And in 1988 Dan Quayle became the 44th Vice President of the United States. Sports fans over the last 30 years remember legendary ABC Sports Broadcaster Chris Schenkel of Bippus, while today’s Huntington residents cheer for another local sports hero, Chris Kramer, as he leads the Purdue Boilermakers in the NCAA Basketball Tournament.

Huntington’s heritage of location, workforce, and value contribute to local strengths in several economic clusters including, advanced manufacturing, agribusiness, distribution centers, food processing, metal and steel fabrication, mineral aggregates and petroleum refining and distribution.

The County was not, however, immune to the economic challenges which began sweeping the Nation late last year. CFM/Majestic one of the oldest manufacturing firms in the County fell victim to the downturn in the nation’s housing market. Meridian Automotive also idled their local facility and StrideRite Shoes announced the phase out of their local distribution center.

The County saw ten new industrial projects during 2008, earning it recognition by former Indiana Secretary of Commerce Nathan Feltman as one of Indiana’s best performing economic development efforts among County’s of its size.  

Huntington County welcomed Cequent Towing Products and a new owner of the former CFM/Majestic building. Growth occurred at Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, Midwest Industrial Metal Fabrication, Erie-Haven, Gerdau MacSteel, and 2009 so far has brought Great Lakes Tank & Trailer Company to the County. United Technologies Electronic Controls Division was recently recognized by Industry Week Magazine as one of the best ten plants in North America and Irving Materials Huntington Facility was honored for the eighth time by the Indiana Mineral Aggregates Association for a Gold-level Excellence in Mining Award.

The City of Huntington is celebrating the completion of a new YMCA facility and a $3 million expansion of the public library. The City continues to make improvements to its water supply by developing new wells, long before demand outpaces their existing capacity. Huntington is constructing new storm and sanitary sewer systems to address historic combined systems. And Huntington hopes to become a leader in the production of renewable energy by working with Nature’s Fuels Company on a project to utilize municipal waste to produce fuel and electricity.

Local communities are moving forward with several infrastructure projects. The Town of Markle is adding additional water capacity to its industrial park on I-69. The Town of Warren will complete its downtown streetscape project this year and is preparing infrastructure improvements for a project at local employer Heartland Aluminum. The Town of Roanoke continues to develop its comprehensive strategic plan, evaluating commercial and residential growth in a balancing act with transportation needs and wetlands resources and opportunities.

Huntington County has proven that our heritage of location, workforce, and value are leading the way to a bright future for Huntington County.