Local Voices – EDC President Mark Dobson on why the Foundry project is good for Elkhart
- March Thu, 2017
“The housing shortage is hurting our ability to fill jobs. It’s industry-wide, in the service industry, healthcare industry, RV industry, from entry-level all the way up.”
Mark Dobson, President of the Elkhart County Economic Development Corporation, gives us the lowdown on the Foundry project and what it means for Elkhart’s economy.
Why are you excited about the Foundry Apartments Project?
We want to be the type of community that attracts all types of folks. Housing options are very limited in Elkhart. The study Flaherty and Collins did showed that the city of Elkhart can support 850 apartments right now – this project will provide about 200 apartments.
Do we have a lack of housing in Elkhart?
We’re having a fairly significant housing shortage. Right now there are 400 active listings of houses for sale, with about 205 agents. It’s down to 1/3 of what it usually is – usually there are 1,200 properties on the market at any given time.
Where are you seeing this housing shortage play out?
The housing shortage is hurting our ability to fill jobs. There’s a lack of available places to house workers. It’s industry-wide, in the service industry, healthcare industry, RV industry, from entry-level all the way up.
The unmet demand for housing, all the jobs that haven’t been filled – that’s a sign that Elkhart County is doing well?
Yes, it is. Elkhart County has a highly robust economy – we have a 3.1% unemployment rate right now. 24/7 Wall Street did a study last year that ranked Elkhart County #1 in the state for job creation, and #10 in the United States. Right now, if you go on LinkedIn, you’ll see 2,000 job openings in Elkhart County alone – and the majority of those are white collar jobs.
What do you say to people who may not see the benefit of this project?
This is part of an overall aspirational plan for Elkhart – it’s part of the River District plan. Some people are concerned about the local funding component, and talk about having more focus on low income housing. The city has supported low income housing and will continue to support that. We know that this project will be self-sustaining, and that the property tax collected will substantially exceed the bonds.