ECONOMIC FORECAST: Whitley County economy looks to adapt

COLUMBIA CITY — The state of Whitley County’s economy at the close of 2012 proves the area is continuing in its strengths and hoping to stay adaptive with the challenges and changes that the future might bring.The occupations that are most in-demand in Whitley County are health care, specifically nursing, and skilled manufacturing, such as Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC)-certified individuals. Looking towards the future though, there is still a need for skilled workers in the region.Baby Boomers are also continuing to retire nationwide. This will bring a large drop in the population of skilled workers. As employers on a regional and nationwide level look towards this coming worker shortage, steps are being taken to refresh the workforce with younger talent.Randolph expects high school curriculums to remain the same, but she added that different post-secondary requirements will be varied depending on the area, and the needs of employers. Randolph said that she has been able to collaborate with employers who are working with the EDC, and that together they have been able to off-set costs for companies to train new employees.Tio said this is part of the goal of being ready for the future. “Workforce is something that is unique and can’t be replicated very easily,” he said. In continuing to look at the future, the focus is to keep up with what works in the region. However, the 2013 outlook for the U.S. economy will have an effect on the local scene.There is also the issue, currently, of extended unemployment benefits expiring at the end of the month. While that issue remains in the balance at a federal level, there are solutions for Whitley County individuals if those benefits do run out.Even if there is a drop in funding, the hope is that locally there can be stability.Tio also added that there will be a new governor and lieutenant governor, and on the state-level, there could be changes and uncertainty. Regardless, heading into 2013, the future for the region looks bright.For a more in depth look at this story, see the Dec. 20 issue of The Post and Mail. Don't have a subscription? Call (260) 244-5153 or subscribe to our e-edition. For breaking news, sports updates and additional coverage, bookmark the homepage and find us on facebook.