Huntington's place in the regional economy

For the Love of Huntington 

By: Mayor Brooks Fetters

Huntington is my home three ways. If you live in the City, you are also a resident of Huntington Township and Huntington County. Having the same name makes life easy in a lot of ways, but can cause some confusion as well. However, no matter how many “times” Huntington is called “your home”, we are proud citizens of a great community. 

Over the past decade, Huntington has collaboratively faced challenges large and small with success and skill. The Great Recession created lots of gaps in our industrial base. The occupancy rate in our industrial parks and facilities reached a low of 50 percent. Now, because of the shared efforts of the City, County, industrial sector and Huntington County Economic Development, our occupancy rate has recovered to 97 percent. Over the past decade, capital industrial investment in Huntington County has exceeded $310M. Huntington’s industrial sector is strong and our work force is more highly skilled and productivity is on the rise. 

Huntington is one of 11 counties in northeast Indiana that make up the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership (NEIRP). The NEIRP is laser focused on helping grow the economy of northeast Indiana, by creating a best in class workforce, a best in class quality of life, and a best in class economy. One of the key focus areas for the 33 county commissioners and 12 mayors who meet monthly to help guide this strategy is retaining and attracting quality jobs, for a quality workforce, living in a quality place. That is where the regional focus needs the support and active participation of every county and every community in northeast Indiana. I am proud to say that Huntington is fully committed to remaining a key player in the regional efforts to grow opportunities. 

What happens in Wabash, Fort Wayne, Bluffton, Auburn, has an impact on Huntington. Some of those impacts are more noticeable than others. It is important not to forget that while we might reside locally in Huntington, many of our friends and family work in neighboring counties and communities. Just as the UTEC decisions to move local jobs to Mexico affected Huntington residents (35 percent of the UTEC workforce), the loss of those jobs also affected persons in Grant, Wabash, Whitley and Wells Counties as well. The good news is that the industrial sector in Huntington continues to grow and expand—Continental Structural Plastics, Shuttleworth, Huntington Sheet Metal, Bendix, Gerdau, Incipio Devices, Ecolab and many others are making a difference and making a profit in Huntington. 

Regionally, the downtown improvements in Fort Wayne—the hub of our region— are a huge draw for the entire region. I enjoy the fact that the TinCaps play in beautiful Parkview Field. I don’t want to live next to it, like some people do. However, it is fun to make the short trip from Huntington up US 24 to enjoy a great evening of family fun. The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, Grand Wayne 

Center, Memorial Coliseum 70 miles of recreational trails, the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre and Fort Wayne Art Museum are all added value regional use facilities that make life better for northeast Indiana. 

Similarly, the City of Huntington is committed to a beautiful and interesting downtown where people can live, work, play, and learn. We have a wealth of fabulous architectural treasures in homes and buildings that are being reused for new, sustainable purposes. The UB Block will bring 35 market-rate apartments (no age or income restrictions) to downtown. It will also bring a Creative Abilities Art Center and the Huntington University Entrepreneurship Center together under one roof as dynamic partners to launch a new generation of creative leaders and residents. Improved parks and recreational trails, opening access to the natural resources of the Little and Wabash Rivers, make life more enjoyable for people of all ages and stages in life. 

Huntington is Hiring! 

Local industries are seeking new employees 

There is good news in Huntington for talented people who are looking for work. Businesses and industries are hiring skilled workers. 

“The unemployment rate for individuals with marketable skills, who want to work, is low,” says Mark Wickersham, Executive Director for Huntington County Economic Development. 

Huntington’s July unemployment rate remained low at 3.3 percent. The average annual unemployment rate in Huntington County since 1969 is 5.7 percent, so the demand for labor is as encouraging today as ever. 

The Huntington County Economic Development Corporation’s website ( had 83 jobs posted within a ten mile radius on a single day, including postings from Auto Truck Group, Bendix, Dean Foods and Ecolab. UTEC, which has gone through several rounds of layoffs, also posted new job openings in August. 

For job seekers who need to gain marketable skills, the Huntington County Community Learning Center helps workers become even more employable. 

“There are opportunities here,” Wickersham says. “Most of our clients are trying to fill positions. It’s a question of connecting talent with employers.” 

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