Report shows county, regional business growth

COLUMBIA CITY — In terms of geography and population, Whitley County ranks as the smallest county in the 10-county Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, but as the 2010 Business Dynamics report released Monday shows, the county holds its own within the region.“Overall Whitley County has fared very well within northeast Indiana,” said Alan Tio, president of the Whitley County Economic Development Corporation. Like the rest of the 10-county region, Whitley County showed growth in 2010, seeing three new businesses and 11 expansions within its borders and bringing in more than 350 jobs. The county ranked second only to Allen County in the number of new companies, and fourth overall in business expansion. In terms of job creation, the county ranks fifth in the number of jobs at new businesses and third in jobs at expanding businesses.“I think the report points to how hard we have worked in the last few years,” Tio said. “We’ve got some challenges we need to work through, but those align well with some of the initiatives such as Vision 2020, Whitley Forward and Eagle Tech Academy that are helping to set a new course for our community.”The report supports that new direction for the county as five of the new/expansion businesses fell under the manufacturing category while six were considered to be in the medical or defense categories. The report also shows that there was one business closing in Whitley County that impacted 135 jobs. Region wide, there were 24 new companies and 94 business expansions bringing a total of nearly 3,000 new jobs to the 10-county region. Seven companies closed within northeast Indiana, impacting 439 workers.Tio also said that in the last 10 years, Whitley County has had the strongest percentage of growth in total wages, and came the closest to maintaining its employment levels during the recession. “We as a community have been very diligent and supportive of business growth,” Tio said.