Month: December 2017

OCEDP Lands New Manufacturer for Paoli LLC Building

ORLEANS, Ind. (Dec. 28, 2017) — Orange County Economic Development Partnership announced today that the Paoli LLC building has new ownership and a revitalized purpose as the Jasper Group plans to expand its operations at the Orleans facility early next year.

HNI, the parent company of Paoli LLC, generously donated the building to OCEDP in December. OCEDP was then able to quickly convert the donation into a real estate sale that brings in the Jasper Group as the new owners of the 1.2 million-square-foot facility.

“We are dedicated to helping Orange County and to growing a local economy that attracts investment and creates jobs,” said OCEDP Executive Director Misty Weisensteiner. “Orange County has long been known for excellence in furniture manufacturing and has a skilled labor force that is in high demand — we want to take every opportunity to capitalize on our strengths.”

Jasper Group’s four brands manufacture furniture for business interiors, public spaces and the hospitality industry. The company has multiple facilities in close proximity in southern Indiana including five in Dubois County, one of which is its headquarters, and now three in Orange County, with operations in French Lick, Paoli and the newly added facility in Orleans.

When HNI announced in October 2016 that Paoli LLC would be closing in Orleans, the future of the building, and its employees, had been uncertain. Currently, about 120 people still work at the plant as Paoli LLC employees; and community stakeholders, including the OCEDP, have worked diligently to find a solution for the building that could keep jobs in the county.

“I want to thank HNI; while they could not continue operations here in Orleans, they understood the need to have an employer here that employs citizens from Orange and surrounding counties. That is why they felt compelled to donate the building to the OCEDP,” said OCEDP Board Chair Alan Beck. “They knew that our board would be more than capable of finding a party to purchase the building and continue to offer employment.”

Jasper Group plans to retain the current production employees and possibly add more workers to the manufacturing floor when it begins operations in the first quarter of 2018. The company also plans to use part of the facility for warehousing and shipping for its multiple product lines.

Paoli LLC will likely wind down operations by the end of February, and during that time Jasper Group will begin bringing in raw materials and finalizing equipment purchases that can be used immediately in its new operation.

“We plan for a seamless transition and are very optimistic about our new employees and our new building in Orleans, which is now the largest facility for the Jasper Group, and a perfect complement to our other operations,” said Jasper Group’s President, CEO and Chairman of the Board Mike Elliott. “We have had a great experience working with the OCEDP to make this expansion happen and couldn’t be more pleased to keep jobs here in Orange County.”

Beck added, “Mike Elliot and the Jasper Group share the same concerns as the OCEDP, HNI, the residents and other business owners in the county; we need to save jobs, offer new employment and provide tax revenue that flows to the school system and local municipality.”


About Orange County Economic Development Partnership: OCEDP is committed to recruiting new business to the county, as well as promoting the retention and expansion of existing industry. We are organized as a 501(c)3 organization, funded by both public and private organizations that reflect the diverse assets of Orange County.  Likewise, our board consists of 12 members, including county commissioners, county council, four town councils, and business/industry. Since our inception, we have fostered the growth of dozens of new and expanding businesses, providing personalized assistance in identifying sources of business capital; connecting businesses with educational, workforce development, supply chain, and other resources; and matching relocating and expanding companies’ needs with available properties.

Tourism Spending Continues to Increase for Radius Indiana

BEDFORD, Ind. (Dec. 20, 2017) – The tourism economy continues to grow in the Radius Indiana region, according to a newly released study by market research firm Rockport Analytics. The study shows visitor spending totaling $283.4 million, increasing $11.8 million from the previous year and a regional economic impact of $206.2 million.

The study compared tourism data during a two-year period for Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Orange and Washington counties and includes jobs in the industry directly supporting the visitor such as hotel accommodations, as well as in supply chain sectors like transportation.

“Tourism creates a broad variety of jobs in our region. Success in this industry is important to the people who live in our region and we believe it’s important that they directly see the benefits,” said Radius Indiana President and CEO Jeff Quyle. “It helps to relieve the tax burden of households in the region as well as benefit over 3,700 public school students.”

The Indiana Office of Tourism Development and Radius Indiana commissioned the study. It shows that the region’s tourism employment growth was over five percent in 2016 and is the seventh largest industry in the Radius Region.

“This report shows how important tourism is as an economic driver for the State of Indiana and that its impact continues to grow,” said Mark Newman, IOTD’s executive director. “We’re excited to see how tourism will continue to impact Indiana through future studies.”

Radius Indiana facilitates a regional tourism advisory council, and the group will use the study to create new initiatives that will support this vital part of the local economy. The group is currently exploring a regional tourism branding initiative that could create an identity for the region and surrounding counties in Southern Indiana.

“The data shows us that 73 cents of every $1 spent on tourism stayed in the local economy and saves our taxpayers about $375 per year in taxes. This savings is money that can be directly put back into businesses right here in the Radius region,” said Quyle.

Highlights of the study show Orange County had the largest amount of tourism spending for the region, as well as an increase in four of the five expenditure categories; Washington County recorded a 17 percent increase in retail sales during the study period.

Increasing Labor Participation in the Region

By Stacy Burris
Director of Community Development
As recent headlines have mentioned, Indiana is nearing its lowest unemployment rate ever. In fact, according to Chmura Economics 2017Q4 data, the State’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 4.0 percent which is below the national rate of 4.4 percent. The Radius region’s 4.2 percent unemployment rate is also lower than the State’s. One year earlier, for comparison, in October 2016, the unemployment rate in the Radius region was 4.6 percent. This means that businesses must work hard at finding employees to fill jobs. And one Southern Indiana business giant, Cook Group, is taking an innovative approach to doing so.

With the Great Recession ending more than eight years ago, the national unemployment rate and, subsequently, Indiana and the Radius region’s rate has since declined slowly. Does this decline indicate the overall economic health of the State and Radius region? The answer is, sort of. Unemployment is a difficult concept to define and Economists use it as only a piece of the economy puzzle.

The labor force classifies people as either employed or unemployed. Employed means people worked an hour or more as a paid employee or 15 hours or more as an unpaid worker in a family-owned business or farm. Unemployed refers to those 16 years or older who weren’t employed, but were available for work and actively looked for a job within the past four weeks.

Two key definitions to remember are the unemployment and labor participation rates. The unemployment rate is the share of the labor force actively looking for work, which in the State and the region is low. The labor force participation rate, however, is defined as how many people are working as a percentage of the population available to work.

The participation rate is an important metric to use when analyzing economic data because it reflects the number of people who are actively participating in the workforce. People not included in the rate either do not want to work or can’t work. They may be students, homemakers, or retired. The national labor force participation rate is 62.7 percent while Indiana’s rate is slightly higher at 63.9 percent and the Radius region’s rate is slightly lower at 61.2 percent.

The labor force participation rate has steadily declined along with the unemployment rate, which has puzzled economists. This points to fewer people wanting to work, not to fewer jobs.

As economic developers, we want to boost the amount of people that participate in the labor force to offer area businesses a workforce. Partners of Radius Indiana have taken steps to combat the declining participation rates. Cook Group has initiated My Cook Pathways, to encourage adults needing an Indiana High School Equivalency Diploma to earn one. In fact, if you are a current or future employee at Cook, you can earn your Indiana High School Equivalency Diploma while working at Cook part time. The program allows you to work for 28 hours a week in a position that does not require a high school diploma and take classes for 12 hours a week to prepare for the Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC). When you pass the TASC and demonstrate success in your part-time role, Cook will offer a full-time position in Production, Quality Control, Packaging, or Warehousing.

Cook also pays for the TASC and provides 401(k) and quarterly bonus benefits while you are working part-time.

Not only does this unique and successful program increase our region’s educational attainment but it helps to pull in those people who are otherwise not participating in the labor force.

Stacy Burris, Radius Indiana Director of Community Development

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Manufacturing Industry Continues to Lead in the Radius Indiana Region

BEDFORD, Ind. (Dec. 19, 2017) – Radius Indiana released an update today to its Radius Manufacturing Index (RMI). The index shows that the manufacturing sector continues to see growth across the eight-county region.

RMI was developed by Radius Indiana and provides the organization an analytic tool that monitors several facets to gauge the strength of the manufacturing industry in the region in southern Indiana.

The RMI shows how the region is performing in comparison to the state of Indiana. Radius’s overall index increased from 58.27 to 60.15 between quarter three and quarter four, while the state dropped from 55.65 to 54.87 between the same quarters. The index indicates that the state’s economy may be growing more diversified, while the Radius region continues to see a growing manufacturing concentration.

For the region, yearly wages increased by $593 bringing the average manufacturing wage to $45,414, and manufacturing GDP as a percent of total GDP also has increased. Between quarters, job growth is up nearly half a percent at 0.48.

“This year has been extremely successful for the Radius region. Our manufacturers have created a positive work environment that has kept these jobs in our area,” said Jeff Quyle, president and CEO of Radius. “Manufacturing has seen a constant increase in our region for all of 2017 and I have high hopes that will continue into the New Year.”

Earlier this year, Radius hosted the region’s first economic development incentive seminar to educate area accountants and financial managers about business growth opportunities. After the session, Radius reached out to the participants for feedback on the current status of their clients’ businesses and the local economy.

Of the respondents, 50 percent report that Radius region businesses have hired employees in the past year, and predict that they will have to hire more in the next year. Radius believes this is indicative of further increases in the job growth for the region. In addition, the survey revealed that 75 percent of the financial managers expect no decrease in sales or production for 2018, and a majority are seeing new company formations.

The survey results support this quarter’s RMI by showing that job growth has increased, and that the accountants and financial managers are continuing to see growth in key sectors across the Radius region.

Chief Executive Officer of the Bedford Chamber and Lawrence County Growth Council, Shance Sizemore added, “We are seeing activity and interest in manufacturing sites that could lead to more growth right here in Lawrence County. Our local manufacturers are reporting increased demand for products, and we believe this activity is a result of a healthy and growing economy that is providing a boost to the manufacturing sector overall–especially in our region.”

The Radius Manufacturing Index uses statistics from publicly available sources to provide an estimate of the state of health of the manufacturing sector in the region. The Index is a backward looking tool that reflects conditions approximately six months in the past, based on the dates for some of the statistics used.

Radius Indiana’s Economic Development Course Returns in 2018

BEDFORD, Ind. (Dec. 7, 2017) – Radius Indiana announced today that registration is now open for its second annual regional economic development conference for community leaders coming to the French Lick Resort March 27-29, 2018.

Attendees at the two-and-a-half day Radius Indiana Economic Development for Community Leadership Program will participate in educational sessions on relevant topics such as real estate development, business attraction, workforce, marketing, business finance and incentives, and entrepreneurship.

“We are excited to again host this course for leaders in our region; the response to the inaugural session was overwhelmingly positive and we look forward to building on the success of the program,” said Radius Indiana President and CEO Jeff Quyle. “This comprehensive, affordable course helps community leaders gain relevant economic development knowledge and important skills they can take back to their cities and counties.”

Speakers from state agencies, site selection companies, secondary education institutions and financial firms will share best practices and offer perspectives on local and regional economic strategies. Topics are focused on the day-to-day functions of economic development, and are designed to help leaders keep the needs of economic development at the forefront of their efforts as they return to their daily responsibilities.

President of the Perry County Development Corporation, Lee Chestnut, who was among the 2017 attendees, added, “The economic development course at French Lick gave tremendous insight into how local leaders can make an impact in their communities. I would encourage those interested in learning more about topics like strategic planning, tax abatement and marketing for available sites to attend next year’s session.”

Registration for the Radius Indiana Economic Development for Community Leadership Program is now available through the Radius website,, or by calling 812-277-9778. Registration for leaders in the Radius eight-county region is $450, and $500 for those who live outside the region.

Radius also plans to make several scholarships available from its own office as well as area utilities and banks. Local Economic Development Organizations and those interested in attending are encouraged to contact the Radius Indiana office to learn more about scholarship opportunities in their area.

ABOUT RADIUS INDIANA: Radius Indiana is a regional economic development partnership representing eight counties in Southern Indiana: Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Orange, and Washington. Formed in 2009, Radius Indiana also serves as a point of contact in Indiana for Naval Support Activity Crane and leads regional collaboration by leveraging the diverse assets of Southwest Central Indiana to drive attraction, retention and expansion of business, thereby increasing employment and investment opportunities and quality of life within the region.