Last week, I was in Washington, D.C. with Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, United States Representative, for an update on the USMCA Trade agreement. The agreement is one of the Chamber’s top federal priorities and should be considered by Congress some time later this year.
Lighthizer commented, “Without question, the USMCA is the strongest and most advanced trade agreement ever negotiated. The agreement rebalances our trading relationship with Mexico and Canada in a way that benefits American workers and it modernizes the rules of trade among our countries to reflect the needs of our 21st century economy.”
In 2018, United States trade with Mexico and Canada totaled more than $1.4 trillion and supported 12 million jobs. The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement offers certainty for future investment in North America, builds on market access that was created by NAFTA and enhances protections for new market opportunities. Mexico has already ratified USMCA – the time is now for Congress to act!
In Indiana, one out of four manufacturing firms do business in Canada or Mexico. 75% of those firms are small-medium sized businesses. Currently, 233,600 Indiana jobs are supported by trade with Mexico and Canada. More than 61,900 of those are manufacturing jobs. Those jobs have an average wage of $75,000. Indiana companies exported more than $19.2 billion in goods to Canada and Mexico in 2017.
I was honored to join many of my chamber colleagues from around the country for this important conversation with Ambassador Lighthizer. We’re grateful for his work advancing this important agreement, it is critical to the Indiana economy and our region. We’re hopeful Congress will act soon to move this agreement forward and give companies in our region and across the state some comfort as they plan for future growth.
Director, Marketing Communications
South Bend Regional Chamber> on Wednesday, September 11, 2019 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)
Change can be hard. But after 16 years of presenting a Business Expo, it was time to give our businesses in the South Bend Region a new experience. Say goodbye to Business Expo and hello to Momentum. Consider Momentum more of a gathering where you can make catalytic connections and businesses and organizations collide to showcase their forward-thinking ideas by exhibiting and thought leaders deliver helpful 20 to 30-minute Rally Sessions on a variety of topics helpful to business professionals.
What we think is pretty awesome is the use of the word Momentum to describe this gathering. We think our region has Momentum. Let's face it, South Bend has made national headlines for its presidential candidate, Garth Brooks concert at Notre Dame Stadium, U.S. Senior Open golf tournament, and every home Notre Dame football game. Our community is getting national, even global attention. Let's capture that--led by our business community--and celebrate! C'mon, let's toot our own horn!
To help you understand Momentum even more, we've developed FAQs to answer your questions. With partners like Centier Bank, South Bend - Elkhart Regional Partnership, IDEA Center at Notre Dame, IT Sector Partnership, HR Collaboration Group and more, we're well on our way to making the October 29 Momentum gathering one of those FMO events!
It’s the Chamber’s Business Expo but bigger and better! Think of it as Expo 2.0. We’ve tweaked and tucked our former Business Expo to create a different kind of gathering and new experience for you.
It’s a hybrid of a B2B B2C trade show combined with the energy and feel of a street fair. You’ll experience exhibitors, speakers, catalytic connections and fun!
Because we want to tap into the energy and movement happening in the region. Don’t you feel it? We do. Let’s capture it, celebrate it and tie it into businesses who are leading the momentum.
Heck yes! Are you a forward-thinking company? What makes you unique? How are you doing things differently to stay relevant and offer solutions? Are you innovative? If you answered “yes” to any of these, you have Momentum, and you need to exhibit.
No. To be innovative and forward-thinking doesn’t necessarily mean you are a tech company, but you might use technology to move your company forward. If you are part of the fabric of this business community, and you are growing and evolving, collaborating with others to make a difference, showcase your efforts at Momentum.
We are using both the Convention Hall and Discovery Ballroom at the Century Center. While the Convention Hall will be filled with exhibitors, we will have a few block areas of industry concentration, such as The LIFT Network Innovation District, IDEA Park by IDEA Center and IT Sector Partnership. The Block Party in the middle will provide a fun, social experience for exhibitors and attendees to continue to connect. Across the way, Discovery Ballroom will welcome speakers offering their expertise in 20 to 30 minute Rally Sessions. Also, new is a YPN event within Momentum! That’s right, YPs will be participating in the ever-popular Big Talk YPN event.
These are sponsored areas of industry or sector concentrations. You’ll see the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnerships LIFT Network Innovation District, IDEA Park by IDEA Center and the IT Sector Partnership, with more blocks to come. These areas help to tell a story. Only exhibitors selected by the block host will be included in a specified block area. Other exhibitors will be placed appropriately throughout the Convention Hall.
This year we are thrilled to partner with the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership and IDEA Center at Notre Dame to widen our message and influence. They are sharing Momentum with their customers via email and social media marketing. Plus, we’re hitting it hard with our social media, in addition to communication to our member contacts and coverage on radio, TV and print.
If you are exhibiting, we encourage you to also display and talk about your Momentum Moment.
Every business has a story. And every story has a Momentum Moment—the tipping point that launched a business into a new endeavor. Someone quit their job to start their own business. That’s a Momentum Moment. A business added a new service that took sales across the $1M. That’s a Momentum Moment. A foundation came together to spark new ideas in a stale environment. That’s a Momentum Moment. A new innovative app was developed to streamline your customers' experience. That's a Momentum Moment. You get the idea. We can’t wait to watch people connect over these stories during Momentum.
We’ll use this content to not only market Momentum but also market you through our website and social media platforms.
To give our attendees and you the best possible experience, we need to view the show in its entirety. Keeping in mind not to have competitive companies beside one another. We look at traffic flow, engagement opportunities, aesthetics and other factors to present the right look and feel for the Momentum gathering.
- Where businesses connect with like-minded collaborators
- An inspirational event with speakers from forward-thinking companies
- Your place to network, learn about regional businesses and explore how to build your own momentum
In July, Tri-Pac, Inc., a contract filling and packaging firm, officially cut the ribbon to signify its relocation from Vandalia, Michigan to South Bend to better align with its growth plans. Their state-of-the-art facility is located on the corner of Nimtz Parkway and Kenmore Street. The company bought the building previously occupied by Plastic Molding Manufacturing Inc.
Phase 1 of their growth plan is an $8 million investment to expand their strategic focus into manufacturing of consumer health care products, including OTC (over-thecounter), medical devices and personal care products.
The company currently employs approximately 40 people with the addition of 20 new jobs over the next few years expected, with the jobs paying anywhere from $18 to $33
Founded in 2009 by Vikram Shah, the company contracts with multinational manufacturers of liquid cosmetics and chemicals—i.e. aerosols—to fill and package custom orders. Their mission is to provide the highest quality contract development and manufacturing and chemical management services to marketers of aerosol, liquid and specialty packaged products while achieving results that protect and increase the value of the customer’s brand equity and theirs. Tri-Pac believes that integrity is one of the most important characteristics a company can possess. The Tri-Pac team, management and associates work very hard to focus on quality, integrity, sustainability and continuous improvement.
At the end of 2018, the company successfully upgraded its Quality Systems to encompass the current good manufacturing practices as dictated by the 21 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), continuing their "customerfocused, quality-driven" policy.
3333 N. Kemnore St.
South Bend, IN 46628
“We assist clients and communities in seeking and defining their next horizon. We refer to this process as transforming horizons,” says Chuck Lehman, president and CEO of Lehman & Lehman. Landscape architecture, planning and placemaking are at the heart of this Mishawaka business, which was awarded with the Small Business of the Year honor by the South Bend Regional Chamber earlier this year.
Now entering its 31st year, the company practices with an emphasis on social economic and purposeful design strategies. It crafts sustainable landscapes, sites and places that create positive change through cross-disciplinary collaborations.
Lehman & Lehman is more than a landscape architecture firm; rather, the company is a visionary of the land, present and future. Their approach is holistic, shaping human perspectives to encourage richer thinking that is deeper and more meaningful in both scope and magnitude.
Their project involvement includes the planning and design of Mishawaka’s Central Park, land use planning of the proposed Indiana Enterprise Center, planning and design of South Bend’s West Bank Trail, Mishawaka High School’s Steele Field Renovations and Alumni Plaza, master plan development for Mishawaka’s Ironworks project, and a 10-county Greenways and Trails Vision for Indiana and Michigan.
The key to the company’s sustainability lies with its ability to collaborate when needed with other firms, engineers and other specialists to implement and execute clients’ vision. For the past eight years, the company has experienced at least 15% growth per year, and it has done so with less staff than in previous years. In 2006, the firm had 14 staff members and four licensed professionals, with projects in 11 states.
But the economic downturn in 2008-09 required the company to reinvent itself, making the decision to stay small to offer enhanced focus. Currently, Lehman & Lehman has three full-time and one part-time staff, serving clients throughout Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and Ohio.
While the company reinvented itself, so did Chuck, building relationships and investing time in the community. This engagement means participation on various boards and committees, including serving on two Regional Cities advisory committees and serving on the board of the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership. He is also board chair of the South Bend Heritage Foundation and member of the Mishawaka Education Foundation.
Since 2004, John Affleck-Graves has served as the executive vice president of the University of Notre Dame. Prior to that, he served as its CFO and served as a professor. In August of last year, he announced that he would be retiring effective June 30, 2019. During his tenure, 36 new buildings were constructed on campus, financial aid for students grew from $58 million to $147 million and the annual operating budget grew from $650 million to $1.5 billion. In addition to his position with Notre Dame, Affleck-Graves also served as chair of the Regional Development Authority and played key roles in our region’s economic development efforts. In this interview, chamber asked Affleck-Graves about some of his accomplishments and views of the region.
1.) You have often said that the University cannot succeed unless the region succeeds. What steps have you seen the region take that is moving it in the right direction from an economic development and talent attraction standpoint? What steps has the University taken? JAG: One of the biggest steps that I have seen our region take in recent years is to form partnerships and collaborations between city leaders, businesses, nonprofits, schools and universities. This new drive to collaborate grew out of the Regional Cities Initiative that was initiated by our governor in 2015. That state funding inspired our local cities and counties to collaborate in unprecedented ways to create a vibrant, thriving economy in all of the South Bend-Elkhart region.
JAG: The University is a member of our local community, so just like everyone else, we have an obligation to contribute to our region’s economic growth. We want to see not only St. Joseph County succeed, but also Elkhart County, Marshall County, Berrien County and our entire region prosper.
When I worked with community leaders in our area through my role in the Regional Development Authority, we realized that we could achieve so much more if we pooled our resources and worked together as a region. I’m so excited about the role of the South Bend-Elkhart Regional Partnership under the tremendous leadership of Pete McCown and Regina Emberton. The natatorium in Elkhart was the largest-funded project in the Regional Cities Initiative, and it will have a significant economic impact on the community. Undertakings like the workforce housing projects in Marshall County would not have occurred without the hard work of community leaders like John DeSalle and Gary Neidig.
Our IDEA Center at Innovation Park is one way we engage with the local community, and we would like to see even more collaboration over the coming years. We also work with the City of South Bend and encourage entrepreneurs to grow their businesses at the city’s Ignition Park. A few businesses that are there, such as Aunalytics, began at Notre Dame and are attracting talented analysts, software engineers and data engineers to our local community.
As a University, we also play a role in supporting our local nonprofit organizations. Our students, faculty and staff contribute their time and expertise to many great organizations in the community such as Center for the Homeless in South Bend and the Center for Community Justice in Elkhart. In 2001, the University opened the Robinson Community Learning Center south of campus for the residents of the local community, and every week 600 children and adults participate in programs there.
Lastly, we want to contribute to the quality of life in our region. While football games in Notre Dame Stadium have boosted the local economy by bringing business to our area hotels, restaurants and shops, we also invite visitors to enjoy the performing arts, lectures, conferences and special events. With the completion of the Campus Crossroads project, we have been able to host events for the community such as the Garth Brooks concert and the NHL Winter Classic. And, we want to do more in the future.
2.) With the impact of Notre Dame as a leading employer in the region, it is a huge responsibility. We understand that, as the University needs to attract top talent, there is often a trailing spouse. What are some thoughts you have on how to combat this?
JAG: We are continually partnering with the leaders of the cities in our region to strengthen our economy. As entrepreneurs build companies, they create jobs. When we recruit leading faculty and administrators from diverse parts of the world, oftentimes, they will accept our offer if there are attractive job opportunities for their partners. We have a Dual Career Assistance Program for our faculty and staff who are recruited through regional or national recruitment efforts, and we network with local employers who can utilize their expertise. The spouses also enrich our local workforce. Recently, the spouse of one of our recruits took her technical expertise to the City where she leads innovation efforts.
One of the goals of the Regional Development Authority is to improve the quality of life in our region, and one of the many ways we will accomplish that is by transforming the net out-migration to a positive in-migration by 2025. As we attract and grow great companies and invest in the quality of life, more of our residents will stay in this community. Recently, the Regional Cities Initiative invested in 26 quality-of-life initiatives throughout the South Bend, Mishawaka, Elkhart region, and our community will certainly reap the benefits of those investments.
3.) What are the University’s goals in terms of becoming a preeminent research university?
JAG: We want to be a great Catholic university for the 21st century and one of the preeminent research institutions in the world. We want our research to fulfill the vision of our founder, Fr. Sorin, to be a source for good in the world. There are so many exciting research initiatives on our campus, and we want to create a new paradigm. We want to work together with entrepreneurs to commercialize our research in areas such as cancer, energy, global health, environmental change and nanotechnology. We want to be a resource for companies to help them innovate and compete in the global marketplace. And, we want their companies to flourish in our region.
Much of this activity occurs in collaborative relationships. Innovation Park, which was launched in 2009 with the support of the local community, has nurtured over 100 startups, and many of those companies have created jobs for local residents. We know that our University is stronger when our community succeeds. In 2016, the University opened the Notre Dame Turbomachinery Laboratory (ND Turbo) at Ignition Park in South Bend, on the site of the former Studebaker Autoworks assembly plant. ND Turbo conducts research and development for customers like Pratt & Whitney and Honeywell, and attracts talent and capital to the region. We want to see more successes like this.
Through a recent grant, Notre Dame partnered with Johnson and Johnson, the University of Pittsburgh, and ITAMCO, a manufacturing company based in Plymouth. Researchers at Notre Dame developed a physics-based software that improves the process of 3D printing metals. The local manufacturing company, ITAMCO, licensed this new technology from Notre Dame and used it to launch a new company, Atlas 3D, to apply the technology. Through this collaborative process, ITAMCO developed into a sophisticated software and applied technology company through its partnership with researchers on campus.
Through examples like these, we see our research efforts leveraging economic growth to the benefit of all in our region.
4.) What are your proudest accomplishments while at Notre Dame? And, what’s next?
I came here from South Africa in 1986, and the region has been a wonderful home for my wife, Rita, and our family. The region and the University have given me so many opportunities to work alongside gifted and talented colleagues and students. As the executive vice president, one of my proudest memories is the way Fr. John and the University responded to the 2008-2009 recession. During that time, we did not lay off any employees. Instead, the University was prudent with its resources, so that families would not be impacted.
I have seen so much growth in this community. I am humbled to have served as the chair of the Regional Development Authority, and worked alongside many of our area’s great leaders from St. Joseph, Elkhart and Marshall counties as we secured a $42 million grant from the state in 2015 for economic development. Our counties will continue to benefit from those important projects for many years to come.
After I retire in June, I plan to continue to teach in the Executive MBA program and enjoy more time with my grandchildren. My wife, Rita, and I love this community and Notre Dame. It has made a lasting impact on us, and we treasure all of the friendships that we have made.
5.) What is your impression of the South Bend-Elkhart region now compared to when you first started?
When I came to South Bend from Cape Town, South Africa, I knew very little about this community. I had visited Notre Dame briefly to give a lecture for the Finance Department, but I did not know that much about the region. Over the past 30 years, this community has really blossomed. Collectively, we are making progress to improve our regional economy and provide more compelling career opportunities and increase the cultural vibrancy of our region. This is a great time for the South Bend-Elkhart region, and I could not be more optimistic about the future.
As my senior year at Saint Mary’s College concludes, I have been reflecting on my college experience. While I am going to miss my friends and going to class, I am also going to miss being an intern. Yes, I said it. I am a Communication Studies major with minors in Public Relations/Advertising and Business Administration and really enjoy my major, but career opportunities are so broad it can be overwhelming. This is where being an intern comes into play. Internships have allowed me to weed out careers. I have had three internships over the past four years and each company has provided an amazing learning experience.
My first internship, I worked at Gibson on their marketing team. I assisted with writing blog content, worked with their social media, and helped develop marketing strategy for a new service they provide to their clients. I was fully immersed in a marketing role and learned the practical use of marketing principals that could not be learned inside the classroom. I also learned a lot about insurance, which is important to everyday life.
My second internship, I worked with Purdue Extension-Elkhart County assisting with all things 4-H. Growing up in Goshen, I was never involved in 4-H, which is rare. I had the opportunity to interact with community members from all walks of life and of course I got to eat fair food during fair week. While this internship was not directly related to my major, it gave me the opportunity to further develop core skills such as leadership, time management, and interpersonal communication which will be an integral part of any job, regardless of the industry I enter.
My third internship is with the South Bend Regional Chamber of Commerce. With the Chamber, I get experience with many different things, including economic development, writing articles, preparing presentations, and researching policy affecting Chamber members. Again, this internship is not directly related to Communications, but it is my favorite experience so far. I must use problem-solving and writing skills in order to understand and relay a variety of information to a variety of people. Before this internship, I never realized how many people must work well together to support economic growth in the South Bend Region.
Obviously, there many benefits to internships for the student, but the host company also wins when they have interns. Innovative and eager minds enter the culture and are ready to work. Companies are also exposed to fresh talent in their area and have the opportunity to recruit interns for full-time jobs after they finish school. Regarding finding talent, Indianaintern.net is a great source to post an internship opportunity. It is a job board for students seeking internships in all industries across the state of Indiana. It is a “one-stop shop” for students to explore internship opportunities and where employers can connect with EARN Indiana, a program that provides funding for internships. Now is the time to post openings for interns, since summer is right around the corner!
I would highly recommend an internship to any college student and company. Experiential learning is a unique and fun way to learn new skills. I am so grateful to my past employers for letting me build practical skills to be successful in the workforce. If you have questions about internships, IndianaINTERN.net, or the EARN program, contact Kate Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the South Bend Regional Chamber on using earn money To Pay for Your Intern
“The South Bend Regional Chamber has provided internship opportunities to many talented students over the years. Caroline is one of two fine interns we worked with this spring. This semester was our first to leverage the EARN Indiana program, and I want to encourage all employers to explore this option. EARN not only extends the internship budget but also allows us to employ ‘two interns for the price of one.’ It is also incredibly user-friendly, from registration to reimbursement,” said Mari Bishop, director of operations for the South Bend Regional Chamber.
Hire an Intern & Get Them Involved in Summer Connect
The South Bend Regional Chamber encourages you to hire interns at your place of employment to participate in the talent solutions needed to keep good talent here in the South Bend Region. Every summer, we offer the Summer Connect program to give summer interns in the region the chance to get to know one another more while also experiencing all of the great things to see and do in the area. In this way, the intern may be more likely to stay in the area if offered a job! Learn more!
Correct Property Tax on Wednesday, April 3, 2019 at 1:00:00 pm Comments (0)
Navigating the appeal process of reducing your property taxes is difficult,; doing it without any knowledge of the process is a nightmare. It may feel like there is a secret door to unlock and no one gave you the key. Information published by the Department of Local Government Finance is quite complex. Tax bills are coming soon; make sure they are correct. Here are some important things to know before you file an appeal.
1. Studies show that 60% of all properties in the U.S. are over-assessed, yet only 2% appeal.
A Forbes magazine article indicates this stunning statistic. While this is a broad statement of all U.S. property, Indiana is not far off. It is vital that you investigate all aspects of your assessment to see if you are in the majority of over-assessed property and meet the deadline for filing an appeal.
2. There are strict deadlines for action on appeals.
The filing deadline is 45 days from the date of the notice or May 10th, whichever is first. The deadlines are not just for filing. There are also many procedure deadlines that the assessor and taxpayer must adhere to. Information published by the Department of Local Government Finance is quite complex. There were many changes in legislation that affected appeals in 2017. I urge you to read through all of these or seek the advice of an attorney or qualified tax representative before filing your appeal.
3. Almost all rehabilitated properties in urban areas qualify for a tax break.
This type of deduction is becoming more common with all the urban renewal happening. This deduction is for any building or house that has been restored without adding to the footprint. The exemption applies to the increase of valuation to the property by the local assessor. The property must qualify, file Form 322/RE. It applies to structures within an economic revitalization area. There are specific property types within that area that do not qualify, such as golf courses or recreation complexes. Check with your assessor or a qualified tax rep to find out if you qualify.
4. Some vacant buildings qualify for a tax break.
This type of deduction applies to commercial or industrial property located in an economic revitalization area. The property must qualify for the deduction and meet the deadline to file Form 322/VBD.
5. If a property assessment goes up by more the 5%, the burden of proof shifts from owner to assessor.
What it means is that the assessor is required to show evidence and reasoning for increasing an assessment by more than 5% in any given year. It does not qualify for property that has added improvements. If the assessor does not meet the burden of proof, the assessment automatically reverts to the most recent assessment before changes.
While it is a complex procedure, it is not uncommon for taxpayers to win a reduction. With a little research and/or help from a professional, you can prevail.
Beth Szweda | Correct Property Tax
Indiana Certified Tax Representative | Level III Indiana Assessor/Appraiser
Member Indiana Assessors Association Inc. | Member International Association of Assessing Officers
Correct Property Tax | 574.286.0431
Chamber Editor Note: the above is a guest blog from one of our member businesses. If you have content that you'd like for us to consider for a future blog, contact Shari Carroll at 574.400.4024. You must be a Chamber member business for consideration.
Director of Talent Engagement
South Bend Regional Chamber on Wednesday, January 30, 2019 at 12:00:00 am Comments (9)
This week I attended the board meeting of the South Bend Community School Corporation. Questions have been raised about the selection process of every superintendent hired since I’ve lived in South Bend--nearly 25 years. Based on conversations and observations, I have seen these same questions asked of corporations across our state; what changes the game is how communities move forward AFTER the superintendent is selected.
Our community doesn’t have the luxury of continuing to expend energy on drama, suspicion, and the casting of stones. Our students and educators deserve better. The people working to positively impact our community through private and public investments know that a strong public education system is necessary to ensure that each person reaches their full potential. Business leaders represented by the Chamber want graduates who are prepared to both benefit from, and contribute to, their continued growth.
We will never pick up the pace on equitable, positive change if we’re in a constant state of crisis. The best schools are not just the site of academic learning - but also places of welcome, stability, safety and the building of life foundations.
Let’s support Dr. Cummings as he works to establish a lean, collaborative and action-oriented administrative team to provide systemic stability and the support our principals and educators need to give their very best to the students they serve.
Let’s be honest about our big challenges, even when it’s uncomfortable – and work together – as a community of partners - to establish priorities and implement strategies that make it possible for ALL of our students to succeed.
Let’s establish strong relationships with the business and non-profit partners who stand ready to support our children and educators – giving the broader community meaningful ways to get engaged and truly feel they are part of Team South Bend.
Let’s hold each other accountable, with open minds, dignity and respect and not with tunnel vision and self-inflicted drama.
Let’s build the level of trust, both internally and externally.
It has taken bold action by local business and government leaders to ignite the positive change we’re seeing in South Bend. We are looking to our elected school board and Dr. Cummings to provide brave and bold leadership for South Bend Schools. We believe you see the value in celebrating successes and have the courage to acknowledge and present the very real challenges to our community.
Business leaders expect: clear goals to be set; relevant and accessible student data; strong and timely communication; and a community-wide, laser focus on the strategies selected to drive positive change. South Bend Schools can then ask for – and be prepared to accept - help to address the larger issues impacting student and school success.
As a community, we must do our part. We must not continuously restate what we think is wrong with our schools. If we want to drive positive, systemic change, we must develop a broader understanding of the challenges of public education – from rising expectations and reduced funding to overburdened educators and a high percentage of students who live in poverty.
Then, we all must act – playing whatever role we can to support our children and partner with our schools.
What if we do this so well that Dr. Cummings determines there is no better community to tackle these challenges with and no better place to spend the next decade (or more!) of his career, leading the team that transforms K-12 education in our city?
This is the time for action.
South Bend Regional Chamber on Friday, January 18, 2019 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)
As the clock turned to 2019, a fair amount of nervous anticipation exists within the business community about what the New Year will hold. Many consecutive years of economic growth have leaders worried a slowdown might be imminent.
Historically, in the U.S., no economic expansion has lasted longer than a decade (March 1991-March 2001). The current expansion has now lasted more than nine years, leading to those concerns about what 2019 and beyond might hold for the economy.
The prognosticators have been busy looking into their "crystal balls" to offer insight on what the future might hold. Unfortunately, mine is no clearer than theirs, but we thought we'd weigh in as well as share some of that insight from others in this issue of my blog.
Nationally, experts predict that the economy should grow about 2.5%. Those same experts predict the Indiana economy should outpace the national economy, growing at 3.2%. Most growth is predicated early in the year, slowing as the year progresses.
The diversity of our economy in South Bend-Mishawaka-St. Joseph County area is a real plus and means we don't see as wide of swings as other areas might see when the economy surges or slows. We anticipate that this will mean slow and steady growth continuing in our area in 2019. We've been growing slower than the rest of Indiana, however, we'd like to see our area growth keep pace with that of the state prediction.
The fastest-growing sectors in terms of job growth included leisure and hospitality, and goverment, which includes school and hospitals. The biggest decline in employment was in private educational and health services. Indications are the recent growth in sectors like health care, the service industry, and warehousing and logistics should continue.
The last few years have seen more capital invested in and around the local communities than at any time in recent memory. We saw tax cuts, as well as many key public-private partnerships drive new investment, especially in our "city" centers. Many of those projects will near completion in 2019. Others announced recently will break ground in early 2019.
Moderate growth among several other key indicators like median income, population and gross domestic product have investors and our communities optimistic. At the same time, international trade uncertainty, rising interest rates and the availability of workforce allow some pessimism to creep in.
Many cite concerns about the challenges with finding workers needed to fill open spots. We don't anticipate that changing much in 2019. Unemployment should stay about the same, and as a result, the tight labor market will continue to drive hourly wages up. We see two potential fixes to the workforce shortage: increase our labor force participation rate (62.5% of all eligible workers do so) and grow our population. Efforts are underway to advance both of these fixes.
We anticipate the demand for housing will remain strong in the New Year. The experts say it's a sellers' market, with a lack of inventory driving some prices up. The number of new homes built rose again in 2018, and a significant amount of high-density residential projects were started, completed or announced. What happens with interest rates in 2019 could have a major influence on the housing market in the New Year.
Our recent successes with growth and development should be celebrated. These successes have also attributed
to a shift in attitude in the region.
This is huge. We must continue to strive to keep pace with the state and national economies. Otherwise, we'll fall behind.
Population growth and income growth should be our top priorities. A great roadmap has been laid out by our partner, South Bend–Elkhart Regional Partnership, to help guide growth in the coming years. We need to commit to seeing the plan through and working closely with our regional partners on enhancing growth opportunities. Here at the Chamber, we're all about seeing you and your business succeed. Onward in 2019, and we look forward to working with you as we seek to catalyze that growth.