The new Dworkin Student Activities Center at Purdue University Northwest’s Westville campus hosted this season’s Economic Briefing by Anthony Sindone and Eugene Matzat on October 25th. The briefing, put on by PNW, the Greater La Porte Chamber of Commerce, and the Michigan City Chamber of Commerce, was a largely positive update on the status of our growing region.
“Economic Briefings with PNW are very important to the growth of La Porte county,” said Vice President Rita Mrozinski of the Greater La Porte Chamber. “It gives the business community a chance to come and listen to the facts on how La Porte County is looking toward the future. [It covers] the Demographics, the Labor Market, Agricultural Trends, and [how we can] think regionally.”
Anthony Sindone, Director of CEDaR and Clinical Assistant Professor of Finance and Economic Development at Purdue Northwest, opened up the briefing with his presentation, “Then and Now.” It showed how our numbers are comparing to years passed as well as to the numbers he gave in a similar presentation in April.
Personal income by place of Residence is up 18.7%. Unemployment ratings have dropped to 6.3%. Those numbers were impressive, especially since technology was beginning to replace human employees in many manufacturing fields. The way companies compensated was to work to improve the skill level of workers; this trend is still on the rise.
Jane Mutchler, Dean of the Purdue University Northwest Business College, said, “This is a great event. It helps give people an idea of the economic future in the region. Everybody here is involved in the region and making sure it’s economically viable. So [the speakers] are going to be giving them an idea of what is really going on.”
“We care about what is going on in the region because we live in the region,” said Sindone. “They get that what is good for La Porte County is good for them.”
Our county’s average wage was a little lower than the national average but our per capita incomes and household income were on the rise. Poverty levels were also too high. Part of this has to do with a demographic that skews over fifty.
Educational services were transitioning as people in the industry made changes to courses offered, taking a closer look at Technical Education.
Chemicals and Advanced Materials were thriving. Manufacturing remained the highest contributor to the La Porte County Economy.
Manufacturing tends to overshadow agriculture despite the later being another important facet of the county.
“Less than 2% of [the national population] are directly involved in agriculture,” said Eugene Matzat, Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator for Purdue Extension - La Porte County. “Yet everyone depends on farmers to eat. In La Porte County, Agriculture plays an important role in sustaining the economy.”
It had been a tough year for farmers. The cost of producing crop was higher than its return due to an abnormally high supply in the region. Genetically modified pesticides protected crops until a new bug entered the area. Traces of the synthetic dust were also found in local honey bee produce.
There are plenty of ways to help the economy, and agriculture specifically.
“Get to know your local farmers and what goes into producing an acre of soybeans,” said Matzat. “The purchases they make in the region have a ripple effect in the economy locally.”
You can also be patient with the farming machinery you see on the road, and remember to shop locally.