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Elkhart Mayor: Diversity to Be 'Job One'

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While the RV industry will continue to be a major driver of the area’s economy, Elkhart Mayor Tim Neese said that diversity needs to be “job one,” and a new coworking space will be a step in that direction.

In an interview on Inside Indiana Business Television, Neese said Launch Elkhart, a partnership with the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce, will be unveiled in the coming weeks. “We want people who are starting businesses to feel welcome,” said Neese, a first-term Republican mayor.

The Elkhart County economy has been on a roller coaster ride and in the national jobs discussion since 2008, when President Barack Obama paid a visit. At the time, Elkhart County had the highest unemployment rate in the nation at nearly 20 percent.

Much of the dire economic picture was tied to the region’s historic ties to the cyclical RV sector. It’s estimated that about 85 percent of the nation’s RV’s come from Elkhart County.

With the sector on an upswing, the area has been in a definite hiring mode. President Obama returned to Elkhart in early June, touting the region’s economic recovery and an unemployment rate hovering around 4 percent.

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