Michigan City may embark on new jobs focus

2013-04-09T14:07:00Z 2013-04-09T16:05:54Z Michigan City may embark on new jobs focusStan Maddux Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
April 09, 2013 2:07 pm  • 

MICHIGAN CITY | Due to economic changes brought on by the Great Recession in 2008, Michigan City is embarking on an effort to determine if there should be a shift in the type of jobs the city should go after the hardest.

For so long, the city has followed a mission statement from the mid-1990s that outlined as the primary goal manufacturing and other forms of light and heavy industry. But now, given the different landscape, the city's position is under a microscope.

''This is all about jobs. Everything that we are doing,'' said Michigan City mayor Ron Meer at a Tuesday news conference to announce the endeavor.

The Economic Development Corp. of Michigan City along with many local stakeholders such as the South Shore Freight Railroad are undertaking what's going to be a one-year attempt to outline the next long-term jobs focus.

Tourism here with the lakefront and Blue Chip casino as among the attractions has taken on more significance in recent years, but key players in shaping the future were hesitant to predict any changes in job recruitment.

''It's one I prefer to hold off on until we get some collaboration and consensus,'' said Dean Uminski, principal at South Bend based Crowe Horwath LLP, one of the largest public accounting and consulting firms assisting in shaping the city's new economic game plan.

Meer said one possibility is to remain focused on adding to the city's remaining industrial job base with more emphasis on other areas like tourism, health care and logistics and being home to more corporate headquarters.

''We want to see what is market driven for Michigan City. What we should be honing in on to offset some of the loss we've had in industrial type jobs over the last 20 to 30 years,'' Meer said.

To help fuel the process of developing a new playbook, the economic development corporation outlined five strategic goals such as developing ways to meet the needs of existing and prospective new firms for a quality workforce and ensuring businesses receive enough support and attention to compete in a global marketplace.

''It's a pretty exciting initiative going forward,'' said Kevin Kieft, executive director of the EDCMC.

Uminski said communities managing to do well in a tough economy have current strategic plans like the one Michigan City is about to update.

He said one of the strengths in developing the new economic strategies is the involvement of many stakeholders from all facets of the local economy ''so we're not living in a vacuum.''

Meer said the new strategic plan is in addition to the playbook already producing results in the ongoing redevelopment of the city's north end.

''These are action plans to put things into movement. This is how we're going to execute the the play,'' Meer said .

''We're sort of at the cusp of a new direction for Michigan City,'' said Charles Compton, Chief Administrative Officer for the South Shore Freight Railroad.

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