14 M'ville businesses plan expansions

Despite economy, outlook upbeat, chamber's retention survey shows

By Chas Reilly - chas.reilly@nwi.com, (219) 662-5324 | Posted: Sunday, February 21, 2010 12:00 am | www.nwitimes.com

MERRILLVILLE | Many Merrillville businesses enjoy their location in town, and some are planning to expand their companies, a business retention study shows.

The study was conducted by the town and the Merrillville Chamber of Commerce before it merged with the Crown Point chamber, and the two groups recently released the results.

Some 47 businesses participated in the study, and most are pleased with Merrillville, Town Administrator Howard Fink said.

Merrillville's proximity to area expressways and Chicago was listed as one of the town's key assets, the study shows. Many businesses also enjoy Merrillville's central location in Northwest Indiana.

"Merrillville is a great place to locate a business," Fink said.

The study also indicates the number of business expansion plans have declined during the last two years, but there are still 14 companies in town that are planning expansion. Those plans include approximately 40,000 square feet of new office or retail space and about 6,000 square feet of new warehouse space, the study shows.

"This is still a vibrant economy," Fink said.

In addition to identifying what businesses enjoy about the town and their potential plans, the town and chamber also wanted to find out any concerns businesses have, said David Lasser, who served as the Economic Development Committee chairman for the Merrillville chamber.

Some businesses indicated difficulties locating skilled manufacturers for their companies, Fink said. The issue could lead to a greater emphasis on workforce development efforts by the chamber and town.

Access to high speed Internet also was among the concerns cited in the report. Lasser said the town and chamber look to work with local Internet providers to inform them of the concern and possibly increase high speed internet access in town.

Lasser said the condition of roads, such as Mississippi and Colorado streets, also was identified as an issue for some companies. Fink said the town hopes to obtain grants to address road issues.

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