A local economic development official says community disruptions can harm job creation.
Charlie Weaver, Executive Director of the Starke County Economic Development Foundation, says companies often target a community’s workforce quality, infrastructure, and access to major markets prior to locating. He also says a second set of criteria must be met that includes how a community works through its problems.
Weaver says part of that is observing the level of civility in a community.
“They look for red flags as far as labor unrest, and this sort of thing,” says Weaver. “Now they always understand going to be a process that labor and management go through to reach agreements. And that’s fine. But disruptions to that process are the types of things they’ll look at and they’ll eliminate.”
Companies already residing in an area can be influenced as well. Weaver says businesses often consider a community’s mindset when it comes to factory locations that remain during consolidation, and even which locations are expanded.
The Starke County Economic Development Foundation is currently working with three companies on possible expansions. Weaver says they call businesses regularly to discuss potential problems the management might experience.
He says if problems are not remedied, it can create additional problems.
“We’ve seen companies move out of other communities because a little thing just festers and grows,” says Weaver. “The communication, regular visits, supporting them when they need help and make sure we have help.”
Weaver says its not uncommon for site consultants, as they’re called, to visit gas stations or sit in on public meetings to better assess a community.
MPI Products and employees belonging to the United Steelworkers have been in contract talks since 2014. A final contract could influence around 200 employees.