RV industry growing in Elkhart, jobs coming as a result

Two businesses that service the RV industry have announced plans to expand in Elkhart.

Drew Industries, a manufacturer of RV components is moving its headquarters from White Plains, New York, to Elkhart.

At the same time, Carrera Custom Painting, which was recently purchased by Bremen-based Precision Painting, is adding 100 jobs to its operation.

The effect of new jobs coming to Elkhart is already being felt in the area. According to the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce, unemployment is down in Elkhart County.

"We went from leading the nation in job loss to now leading the nation in job growth," said Kyle Hannon, chamber president.

The upswing in the RV business is helping to jumpstart Elkhart's economy and is also a positive indicator for the nation's economy.

"As we go around talking to businesses, all times, from all walks of life, they're all much more optimistic than they were," said Hannon. "I think other companies in town are sort of picking up that optimism, and it seems to be serving us very well."

Sherman Goldberg, publisher of RV Business magazine and a spokesperson for the RV industry, said winter RV shows have been "extremely busy" so far in 2013, and there was a surge in RV sales during the fourth quarter of 2012.

"What we are seeing with [Drew Industries relocating and Carrera Custom Painting expanding] is that the economy--while not fully recovered--is well on its way, driven by an almost surprising consumer interest in their products," said Goldberg.

Goldberg said the upswing in sales shows that people are attached to the RV lifestyle and are not prepared to give it up, despite a recession.

"People talk about the RV industry as sort of an indicator, that as it goes, so goes the nation, and it looks like we're charging back," said Hannon.

News Center 16 talked with a spokesperson at Drew Industries, who said the company can not comment on how many jobs will come to Elkhart as a result of the company relocating its headquarters to the city. The spokesperson said the reason is because the company is still moving through state and local approvals and does not want to say anything that might jeopardize job creation.

News Center 16 will continue to follow this story and will provide an update as information becomes available.

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