For many manufacturers, considering a move to Lake County makes sense. There’s infrastructure in place in the form of highways and railways that help expedite the process of bringing in raw materials and shipping out products in a timely manner. Northwest Indiana boasts other proximity and tax-based assets that make it an attractive location for companies to establish operations.
On the forefront of bringing manufacturing and jobs to the region, the Lake County
IN Economic Alliance (LCEA) is building new and fostering existing relationships, as well as attending conferences around the U.S. that can open the door for Lake County to new and established companies who are looking to relocate or expand their businesses.
Recently, the LCEA’s Vice President of Economic Development, Don Koliboski attended the March 2017 Area Development Automotive National Site Selector Conference which generated a wealth of prospects and provided key industry sector insight. The meeting allowed Koliboski the opportunity to market Lake County communities, and the NWI region face-to-face with site selectors and real estate professionals who, on behalf of suppliers, are considering a broad range of factors as they seek out locations that make the most sense economically.
“Access to distinguished experts and panellists representing the $200 Billion automotive sector is critical to understanding trends as to where the big projects land and why and what the future holds. Attending this conference gives LCEA a valuable insider’s view of today’s global automotive market, best practices and key connections to the decision makers or those consulting on the final project outcomes. This knowledge helps us further frame our strategies to attract and retain auto-related companies and jobs,” said Koliboski
The automotive industry is complex and continues to evolve. OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) and other suppliers must be nimble and prepare to adapt. That may mean relocating, expanding, or consolidating operations or facilities and there are many factors that go into that decision making process. With the Ford assembly plant within arms’ reach of Lake County, distance is measured in minutes not miles, ideal for on time delivery from suppliers—30 minutes or less—an industry standard, and an advantage for communities in that radius.
Koliboski said, “Effective and efficient supplier chains, new level of production, higher just-in-time delivery requirements, tech driven vendor and emerging non-traditional players like Google and Apple impact the industry every day, sometimes significantly altering the marketplace. Having a solid handle on and speaking the language of the auto industry, LCEA can more effectively capture a component of the $18-$20 Billion R&D investment [research and development] and $200 Billion industry overall.”
“The automotive conference is quite exclusive with only 60 attendees and 25-30 site selectors so the ratio is really to LCEA’s advantage,” added LCEA President & CEO, Karen Lauerman. “We’re very well known by the speakers and conference host who all values having LCEA engage, ask questions and network.”
Workforce continues to be on the forefront of OEMs and suppliers. As technology advances for the vehicles themselves and within the manufacturing process, there is concern that not enough skilled workers will be available.
“There are outstanding training and educational opportunities throughout Lake County both at the high school and post-secondary levels. As those programs progress and curriculum accelerate to address company needs, our workforce will be ready to fill the job with skill and expertise for the new auto-tech environment,” Lauerman stated.
Northwest Indiana, more specifically, Lake County has many of the resources the automotive industry seeks. The LCEA is working to meet those demands that companies take into account when deciding where to expand or relocate. It is LCEA’s mission to drive jobs and investment to all of Lake County with local, regional and statewide impact.