First DeKalb Economic Summit
Article by Kathryn Bassett | KPC News | May 17, 2019
AUBURN — The state of the economy and trends in the workforce were among topics discussed Thursday at the inaugural DeKalb Economic Development Summit.
The DeKalb County Economic Development Partnership sponsored the event at Bridgewater Golf Club.
In opening remarks, Executive Director Anton King gave an overview of the partnership’s 2018 annual report that showed economic investments of $35.7 million as well as 160 pledged jobs.
Companies announcing expansions included Shiloh Diecast Midwest, Multimatic, MetalX, Gibson’s Plumbing and Heating, Team Quality Services and ProActive Spine & Joint. The county also welcomed the new businesses of Dexter Axle and Auburn Brewing Company, the report showed.
Other notable economic events of 2018 in the report were the completion of Auburn Main Street Sixth & Main Streetscape project, and an announcement that Team Quality Services would be headquartered in downtown Auburn. Butler experienced nearly $7 million in growth from construction projects and expansions, and Garrett welcomed more than six businesses to the community. Hartland Winery in Ashley was awarded the Governor’s Cup, the report stated.
Kim Tempel of Northeast Indiana Works spoke about trends in the workforce in DeKalb County. Highlighting the county’s major industries, manufacturing is the largest, with 9,976 workers, and is expected to grow by 4% in the next 10 years. Government is the second-largest industry, with 2,220 workers, and is expected to grow by 5% by 2029, Tempel said.
Health care accounts for 1,801 workers with a 10-year expected growth of 9%. Retail has 1,603 workers and is expected to grow by 4%, while transportation and warehousing has 1,500 workers with anticipated growth of 18% by 2029, she said.
Within the next 10 years, 5,295 DeKalb County workers will be eligible for retirement, Tempel said. Overall, DeKalb County will need to fill up to 6,677 jobs in the next decade, she added.
Tempel noted that jobs are evolving and requiring higher levels of multidisciplinary technical proficiency, such as the job of a robotic welder.
Reviewing earnings, Tempel noted that DeKalb County annual earnings average $57,365, compared to $50,852 regionally.
In the area of manufacturing, annual earnings in DeKalb County average $77,135, higher than the regional average of $69,540.
In health care jobs, the DeKalb County average is $45,603, compared to the regional average of $56,410.
Edison Byzyka, chief investment officer with Credent Wealth Management, spoke on the state of the economy and offered an economic outlook.
DeKalb County’s unemployment rate stands at 2.8%, and nearly 22,000 people are employed here, he said. About 30% of the workforce commutes to the area, mainly from Allen County, he added.
Assessing the state economy, Byzyka said the unemployment rate is 3.6% with a labor force participation rate of 65.4%.
Exports remain upbeat, despite trade talks, with $39 billion in exports in 2018, he added.
Last year, 8,170 companies exported goods from Indiana. Of those companies, 84% had fewer than 500 employees, he said.
Byzyka offered a breakdown of goods exported that showed: 32% in transportation equipment; 23% in chemicals; 12% in other machinery; 7% in commodities; 5% in computer parts; and 22% in other goods.
Byzyka said 36% of Indiana’s exports went to Canada; 15% to Mexico; 6% to Japan; 5% to China and 4% to Germany.