The state of the Pulaski County economy is a mixed bag according to CDC Executive Director Nathan Origer.
During Tuesday evening’s Pulaski County Economic Development Summit, Origer gave his State of the Pulaski County Economy Address. In it, he highlighted several of the positive steps the county has taken to build capacity for businesses, and to improve the quality of life within the county.
Origer says, going forward, there’s a fundamental choice Pulaski County must make.
“Are we going to invest in our future? Or are we going to manage our decline?” says Origer. “Do we want to take some chances and be great again? Or do we not take risks and see if we can lose slower than everybody else?”
On a positive note, the CDC says local tax and state incentives for local companies were secured in 2015.
On Tuesday night, a loan was approved to assist a Francesville company. In addition, Origer says the Braun Corporation continues to be able to find employees to fill its positions. Origer also alluded to plans that are in the works for several companies to expand their operations, though the details are not quite ready for the public.
Further still, Pulaski County is launching a tourism campaign this spring and has worked with local school corporations on maintenance and repair courses to help students find the skills needed in the local economy.
With the good comes the bad. Origer says Pulaski County is no longer a state leader with its unemployment rate. Another obstacle comes from policymaking.
“No only do we have the highest income tax rate of any county in the state, but it just went up again,” says Origer. “This will not help us to reverse our negative population trend.”
That population trend was repeatedly cited as a challenge when it comes to filling available jobs and attracting top employers to local communities.
Origer said that concerns about Braunability’s future in Pulaski County are misplaced, but said an inability to find a sufficient workforce would likely be cited as among the major issues if the company ever decided to move operations.