The LaGrange County Economic Corporation works with businesses and industry throughout LaGrange County. Our diverse employer base covers most facets from agricultural based businesses to woodcrafting, and everything in between.
The LCEDC has identified seven targeted industrial clusters as likely to provide economic and job stability for the foreseeable future and that will be the catalyst behind LaGrange County’s future economic growth. We provide support for these industries as well as others outside these areas by utilizing a mix of technical support, incentive offers, and playing the role of an ombudsman to help companies navigate through the various processes that businesses face in every community.
The manufactured home building industry has historically been one of the largest employers in LaGrange County. While the industry has suffered various ebbs and flows over the years, the industry is still going strong in LaGrange County.
One of our success stories that has been able to weather the storm is Champion Home Builders Inc., located in the town of Topeka. Champion Home Builders is a recognized leader, and one of the largest builders in the manufactured housing industry in North America. Their products are produced to meet codes and specs issued by both the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as well as varying state’s modular home building codes. Champion Homes are sold throughout the Midwest and across the country.
A number of LaGrange County companies are engaged in Advanced Manufacturing, utilizing robotics, CNC and other computer-controlled machinery. Lake Park Industries, part of Midway Products Group Inc. specializes in modern metal forming technology, and consists of over 25 presses performing die stamping, robotic arc and MIG welding, and many other advanced metal forming technologies.
Honeyville Metal, Inc. designs and fabricates innovative dust collection and grain handling equipment and operates numerous CNC and other computer-controlled machinery in the fabrication of their products.
Other industries incorporating these and other advanced technologies include API, Michiana Laminated Products, and a number of our RV manufacturers. These and many more are practicing advanced manufacturing as our industries continuously improve themselves and the products that they are producing.
The Woodworking industry is one of the many jewels of LaGrange County. Our Amish woodcrafters produce the finest heirloom quality home furnishings that one will ever see. We are also amongst the leaders in producing commercial furniture and fixtures, cabinetry, and other wood products.
The Northern Indiana Woodcrafters Association represents over 90 Amish woodcrafting businesses, but there are many more. F&N Woodworking, E&S Wood Creations, RH Yoder Woodworking, Westpoint Woodworking, and Heartland Mattress are all examples of the many Amish-owned woodcrafting businesses.
Michiana Laminated Products is a recognized leader in producing high quality commercial furniture and fixtures whose client base includes such known names as Victoria’s Secret, Target Stores, Wal-Mart, and numerous others. PalletOne of Indiana is part of PalletOne, the nation’s largest manufacturer of new pallets. Wible Lumber Inc. is in its 3rd generation of family ownership and manufactures hardwood lumber panels and moldings for the furniture, cabinet, and recreational vehicle industries. Tri-State Hardwood Company buys timber and cuts logs from suppliers in the Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio area to provide local species lumber to customers throughout the United States.
Agricultural & Food Processing
LaGrange County’s roots lie in the agricultural industry. From having the largest number of certified organic farms in Indiana to our commodity production, LaGrange County is synonymous with agriculture. According to the USDA-NASS 2007 Census of Agriculture, LaGrange County has 161,709 acres of farmland, of which 127,142 acres is devoted to crop productions.
Our average farm size is only 107 acres, which gives food produced by LaGrange County farmers more of a local feel and our producers a real connection to their craft. LaGrange County has arguably the most diverse crop production in Indiana, producing amongst other things feed corn, sweet corn, soybeans, wheat, hay, oats, cucumbers, and gladiolas.
Additionally, LaGrange County is the second largest producer of ducks in the nation, and is the largest horse producer in the state. Gunthorp Farms supplies meat to some of the finest restaurants in the Midwest; MMPA/Heritage Ridge Creamery cheeses are recognized worldwide for their high quality; Snax in Pax produces caramel corn and fudge that rivals your grandma’s; and Yoder Popcorn produces old fashioned popcorn the way you remember it. These are amongst our many agricultural and food processors.
The RV industry makes up the backbone of LaGrange County. The LaGrange County/Elkhart County area boasts the largest number of RV manufacturers and suppliers in the world. RV’s produced in LaGrange County are second to none in quality, design, versatility, and overall craftsmanship.
Some of our largest producers include Cross Roads RV, KZ RV, DRV, Cruiser RV, Forest River, Dutchmen RV, Starcraft RV, and Riverside RV. The supply chain for the recreational vehicle industry is well served in LaGrange County as well, including many OEM’s and aftermarket suppliers, including Dometic LLC, API, MasterCraft, and Seating Technology, Inc among many others. RV sales, warranty repair, detailing, and customization businesses also abound in LaGrange County, including Indiana Interstate Enterprise, LLC., and Legendary Designs amongst many others. With the amount of recreational vehicle-related businesses in LaGrange County, it is clear why our area is referred to as “the RV capital of the world”.
Tourism is a vital economic driver in LaGrange County. LaGrange County is home to the second largest Amish settlement in the United States, and attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists, leisure travelers, and group travelers from all over the world throughout the year.
These visitors increase the population of the small town of Shipshewana from approximately 536 full time residents to well over 20,000 on a nice summer day (and even more for special events!). The visitors come to experience the Amish/Mennonite culture, the largest outdoor flea market in the Midwest, and shop in the quaint retail shops and restaurants that have made Shipshewana a spectacular place to visit.
Additionally, LaGrange County is home to numerous campgrounds, a large county and town parks system, 67 natural lakes, and an almost 12,000 acre state-protected fish and wildlife preserve that makes LaGrange County a destination for naturalists and those that love the outdoors.
Transportation & Logistics (TDL)
LaGrange County is an ideal place for locating a transportation, distribution, or logistics enterprise given our location and access to the I-80/90 Indiana Toll Road, US 20, and SR’s 3,5,9, and 120. The former Frank’s Nursery & Crafts retailers operated a 350,000 sq ft distribution center in LaGrange County, as well as a number of other companies.
We currently have a number of TDL companies that serve the large manufacturing base (the largest employer segment) in LaGrange County, as well as our agricultural industry. Additionally, the ease of access to the interstate highway system via the Indiana Toll Road, two airports within about an hour’s drive and international flights from the Chicago O’Hare International Airport less than three hours away, and two seaports feeding into the Great Lakes, LaGrange County is perfectly positioned to serve as a hub for all of your TDL needs.
The alternative energy field is a continually growing focus of economic development efforts in LaGrange County and Indiana as a whole. LaGrange County in uniquely situated in Northeast Indiana in that we have a constant and steady wind supply required for a wind farm, as well as the ideal flat, cleared land required for a successful solar farm.
According to the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory wind maps, measured at 50 meters, the wind supply blows at a constant speed in the neighborhood of 6.5 to 7.0 miles per hour, with a wind capacity factor of 30%. This, coupled with the 345Kv interstate transmission power lines and the 69Kv lines that run throughout the area make this area very attractive for wind farm development opportunities. A proposed solar project in the county would create upwards of 70 new jobs during construction and 9 new long-term jobs. This coupled with the long-term earnings benefits, additional tax revenue generated through the entire life of the project and diversity in our local energy portfolio make it an appealing option for us here in LaGrange County.
Additionally, with the strong manufacturing presence in LaGrange County, our workforce, and our excellent transportation and logistics infrastructure, LaGrange County is focused on entering into the manufacturing supply chain for renewables as well.