Author: Rogers, Tim G
Date published: December 1, 2012
2011 shaped up to be a slightly better year for Wayne County compared to 2010. Unemployment numbers for 2011 continued to decrease slightly over 2010. August 2011 saw a slight increase, but the unemployment rate continued downward again in September to 10.3 percent (see Figure 1). This compares to 11.4 percent in September 2010 and 12.0 percent in September 2009.1In addition, Wayne County saw a number of development projects reach completion or break ground in 2011 across the manufacturing, housing, health care and retail sectors.
Investment Activity for 201 1
New housing stock was added representing a combined investment of roughly $15.2 million in 2011. Nine North Apartments, Village at Whitewater and Centerstone all cut ribbons on housing projects representing both new single-family homes and apartments. There were 496 house sales in Wayne County in 2011 (January 1 to November I)- an increase of 22 sales relative to 2010. However, the average sale price for a house in 2011 (year-to-date) was $83,611, down by $8,900 over 2010.2
The retail and service sector saw growth in 2011. Best Buy opened a new store with an investment of $1.9 million. Construction is underway on a new Holiday Inn and Conference Center representing an investment of $7 million. Richmond's historic Depot District continues to add new restaurants and shopping venues. The district is anchored by the former train depot built in 1902 and designed by famous architect Daniel E. Burnham. The depot was recently renovated for commercial use. Richmond will also welcome an Olive Garden on the east side, scheduled to open late in 2011 or early 2012. A new Italian-style market will open on the city's west side by early 2012. The health care sector also saw new investment. Reid Hospital and Health Care Services constructed and opened a new cancer center. The new center represents a capital investment of $2.1 million.
The Economic Development Corporation of Wayne County (EDC) assisted with several projects representing new investment and the retention and creation of new jobs. The EDC closed eight projects in 2011 that generated $24.5 million in new private investment. Those projects created or retained 130 jobs. Two of the projects in 2011 came from companies doing second expansions within the last two years. Two expansion projects occurred with companies who were considering other Midwest locations as well as Wayne County.
2012 Strategies and Trends
Predicting trends for 2012 is difficult. A national election cycle raises uncertainty in leadership, proposed legislation or new regulations and how global markets will be impacted. Wayne County continues to build a foundation for future growth. A recent marketing campaign targeted food processors. Another industry sector will be targeted with a marketing campaign in 2012. The EDC also partnered with the City of Richmond to begin work on Phase II of the Midwest Industrial Park opening up 166 acres for development along Interstate 70. The EDC will continue an aggressive business retention and expansion effort to grow and diversify the economic base of the area. The City of Richmond also approved TIF funding to make additional improvements in the commercial Depot District. One such improvement clears the way for the Model T Ford Club of America to relocate the Model T Museum to the Depot District which will strengthen the economic viability of the area.
If the trend for 2012 remains the same as 2010 and 2011, Wayne County will continue to experience growth, mirroring the nation but at a slower pace. Wayne County will continue to work with the business sector and also market to prospects in targeted industry sectors for new investment opportunities. If the county can continue to build on its current momentum, perhaps growth will start to move at a faster pace in 2012.
1. Data came from the Hoosiers by the Numbers website at www.hoosierdata.in.gov.
2. Data came from the Paragon website at http://richmondin.p3.fnismls.com (accessed November 2011).
Tim G. Rogers: President/CEO, Economic Development Corporation of Wayne County and the Wayne County Area Chamber of Commerce
Renee L. Doty: Manager of Community Affairs, Economic Development Corporation of Wayne County