Starke County Economic Development Foundation Touts Industrial Growth despite Pandemic –

The COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t enough to stop Starke County’s industrial growth, according to Starke County Economic Development Foundation Executive Director Lisa Dan.

“Most area manufacturers continued to thrive and grow to the point that there were so many open positions and not enough people to fill them all,” Dan said during Thursday’s Prospectus and Achievement Luncheon, “We are still facing those challenges today, and this is not a local problem. It’s a nationwide problem.”

Dan noted the recent expansions by Norton Packaging and J.W. Hicks. She also spotlighted Outstanding Tradeshow Exhibit Services for managing to keep its doors open, despite the fact that its core business was completely shut down by the pandemic.

“[Nan Wellman’s] resiliency and her ability to diversify and utilize her graphic arts department for other product lines is helping pull her through these difficult times,” Dan said. “As the tradeshow industry begins to pick up again, it is our hope that one again Nan’s business will begin to thrive.”

Looking ahead, solar farms could be in Starke County’s future, with the Mammoth North project set to break ground next week and two more projects in the works. Meanwhile, Dan said the foundation is hoping to attract industrial development south of U.S. 30 and housing in the Hamlet area, with help from the state’s Rural Opportunity Zone Initiative.