Report ranks Elkhart-Goshen area as top small city for business

NOW: Report ranks Elkhart-Goshen area as top small city for business

GOSHEN, Ind. – A new study ranks the Elkhart-Goshen area as one of the best small cities for businesses in the United States.

The report looked at the business climate in U.S. cities with populations between 50,000 and 250,000.

It analyzed seven variables including a city’s regional price parities, job creation rates, per capita income, percentage of the young population with a Bachelor’s degree or above, the median earnings of 25+ year olds with a Bachelor’s degree, unemployment rates, and total sales/ number of midsize firms per capita. The report then averaged those variables into one ranking.

It listed Elkhart County’s 3.4 percent unemployment rate and the high number of midsize companies reporting large revenues as reasons why the area is the ninth best small city in the country for current and future business owners.

Nick Kieffer is the president of the Goshen Chamber of Commerce. He said he isn’t surprised by this ranking.

“Goshen, Elkhart, Elkhart County has a long spirit of being very entrepreneurial,” said Kieffer.

He added it doesn’t hurt the area is home to the RV and manufacturing industry and supports jobs in growing industries like healthcare and technology.

“Communities across the country are built on the back of small businesses, that’s one thing for sure,” said Kieffer. “Its attention to, I think, some of the things and the good things that we’re doing as a country and as a region. Anytime you get that attention, it’s kind of great to hear.”

Kieffer said rankings like this let business owners know they can succeed in this area.

 “You have to have the people and they have to have the drive to start something,” said Kieffer. “You have to have the right environment as far as community regulations, all that kind of stuff with the cities and making sure that businesses have what they need. Those are all important steps. Resources and that’s a variety of different things, but the support system.”

Kieffer said while city and county leaders welcome news like this, Elkhart and Goshen can always improve their business climate.

He thinks the area needs to continue focusing on land development and creating amenities that make life outside of work enjoyable to continue economic growth and placing high on lists like this.

One business owner in Goshen isn’t sure if he agrees with the study.

Dave Porter opened D&T Automotive Specialists 18 years ago. He wanted to help people fix their cars.

Porter said business took off right away but he said that’s changed over the last few years.

He said rising property taxes keep lowering his profit margins and the booming RV industry makes it hard to find and retain good mechanics.

“It really puts a, you know, a strangle on me sometimes,” said Porter.

His experience is why he somewhat disagrees with the report. Porter thinks the Elkhart-Goshen area is a good place to set up shop for other businesses, especially those in the manufacturing and service industries.

“For the right business, yes,” said Porter. “I think there’s small businesses up here like I talked about that it’s a good place [for]. Auto repair, I wouldn’t say it’s great. It’s a lot harder of a business than I anticipated and it’s getting harder. There’s a lot of competition.”

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