The ongoing pursuit of meaningful jobs

There’s no doubt about it. When it comes to corporate partners, UTEC has been a great one. They have given generously to philanthropic efforts here in Huntington, and they have employed many of our citizens. I am sorry to see their presence decreased in the coming year. Of course, I recognize this was a decision made by an international company, a decision based on the best interest of their shareholders, not our local community.

But let’s be clear. A huge part of what has made UTEC great is the people, those solving engineering challenges and conducting research and development (who will remain at the Huntington location, by the way), as well as all the people on the production line. It is to these people that I write this column. I want you to hear this message loud and clear. There is a place for you here in Huntington, a place where you can find meaningful work and job training opportunities.

 In fact, attracting, retaining, and expanding job opportunities is my number one priority. That ongoing pursuit is important, primarily because good things happen in a city where people have meaningful jobs, the kind of jobs where they can grow intellectually, personally, and professionally and experience opportunities for promotion. Jobs that give them a feeling of wellbeing when they go home at the end of the day.

Thanks to the collaborative efforts of many in our community, those are exactly the kind of jobs available in Huntington right now, with more to come in the near future. We are entering a period of strong growth in our local economy, with a number of expansion projects anticipated in the private sector in the coming year—just as UTEC is winding down.

 

This kind of economic growth is nothing new. In the past eight years, we have seen our industrial vacancy rate drop from 43% to 4.6%. Correspondingly, our unemployment rate has also dropped significantly, from 14.3% in 2009 to 4.7% in 2016.

 

But that’s not all. Those UTEC employees seeking opportunities for education and training will find that chance right here. In addition to the options offered by Huntington University, Indiana Tech, Ivy Tech, and WorkOne, the Huntington County Community Learning Center will soon open and promises to become a true regional training facility. 

 

The bottom line is this. We in Huntington are committed to workforce development each and every day, and we have been for the last decade. Thanks to the outstanding leadership of people such as Mark Wickersham, executive director of Huntington County Economic Development (HCED), as well as our corporate citizens and not-for-profit leaders, Huntington has become a city of choice for those wishing to expand their employee base, and we have some of the best and brightest—right here in Huntington, Indiana.  


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