Erin Blasko | September 28, 2017
In its short existence, enFocus has helped more than three dozen public, corporate and nonprofit clients in the South Bend area — from health care providers to local governments and school corporations — grow via data-driven process improvements, technology deployment and business consulting and analysis.
Now, the cutting-edge innovation organization, which is supported by the University of Notre Dame, is expanding into Elkhart County with a location at Launch Elkhart, a small business incubator within the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce.
Like in South Bend, the organization plans to work with a variety of public and private clients in the so-called “RV Capital of the World” — about 16 miles east of Notre Dame — to create and deploy innovations ranging from new products and services to adjustments in business practices and operations.
Among its first tasks will be studying the labor market in the county on behalf of the Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County, a nonprofit that works to retain and expand existing businesses, attract new businesses and foster entrepreneurial development.
With the rebound of the RV industry after the recession, the county, with a population of about 200,000, is experiencing a severe labor shortage, with an unemployment rate of just 3 percent in August. Various reports peg the gap at anywhere from 8,000 to 20,000 workers.
Among other things, enFocus will look at supply and demand in the market, labor flow (where people live versus where they work), workforce readiness and labor force participation, including barriers to employment such as lack of transportation or childcare, criminal history, drug dependence and discrimination.
According to Mark Dobson, president and CEO of the Economic Development Corp., enFocus competed for the job with other vendors and submitted one of the better proposals.
“And when given the opportunity, then, to work with a high-quality local vendor and engage local folks to assist with local problems, it tipped the scale in favor of enFocus,” Dobson said.