News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Mark Bennett Opinion

March 8, 2008

MARK BENNETT: Terre Haute, Midwestern towns ‘caught in the middle’ of a changing, global economic puzzle

(Continued)

TERRE HAUTE —

Witt is optimistic about Terre Haute’s chances. Despite some recent job losses, the local economy is better off than in the 1980s, when unemployment and interest rates both neared 13 percent. “Relatively speaking, I think things are pretty good,” he said.

Some prime possibilities for new companies would be in pharmaceuticals, distribution hubs, agricultural firms, research and development, and corporate headquarters, Witt said. The only corporation with a local headquarters now is First Financial Corp. Manufacturing, now of a more technologically advanced kind, will remain a primary goal for Witt’s agency.

“We’re working every day to bring new job prospects to the community,” he said.

“Sometimes, it can be a little frustrating. I guess what keeps us going is we have access to information about companies who may be looking at the community,” Witt added. “When you get a new project possibility coming to the community, it’s like Christmas throughout the year. That’s what keeps us buoyed.”

A diversified, global plan will determine whether Midwestern towns stay buoyed or sink, Longworth said.

“Terre Haute, like a lot of towns, was created by an industrial era that is gone,” Longworth said, “and we’re fighting for our lives.”

Mark Bennett can be reached at mark.bennett@tribstar.com or (812) 231-4377.


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