January 31, 2014

OUR VIEW: Taking on the housing shortage


---- — We’re making some progress.

A quick look at the unemployment numbers just released will tell you that. Cass County is down to 6.5 percent, its lowest level since October 2008. And there’s more good news on the job front as several local companies have announced new jobs — 25 at Carter Fuel Systems, 30 at the former Modine manufacturing facility, 48 at Scott’s Square truck stop in Clymers, and 25 at Cass City Center.

But if we want to take this progress to the next level, we must equip ourselves to play the game.

The hard truth of the matter is if a major investment came knocking at our door tomorrow, we wouldn’t be ready.

That’s the message Jim Hayden gave during his outgoing address as the 2013 board chairman of the City of Logansport Economic Development organization.

And if the real estate market is any indication, some area leaders seem to agree.

Economic development leaders and real estate brokers around Cass County are saying the local market has seen fewer houses listed at this time than normal, and very few houses suitable for a key demographic: Mid-level employees who want to move their families close to their work.

Finding a move-in-ready, mid-level home in Logansport has proved taxing for some.

The problem with that is real estate is one of the first things businesses look at when they’re thinking of opening a facility or office in a city. If there’s a lack of housing for middle and upper management positions, it puts a community at a competitive disadvantage when trying to attract or retain workers.

And what’s worse, local real estate agents tell us, some of those middle and upper management employees are working in Logansport and buying houses in Kokomo and Lafayette, or around the lakes in Monticello and Rochester.

That’s money flying through our hands.

We’ve heard from several leaders that housing is a problem, and we agree. Since we already know it’s clearly a problem, we need to come together and find a solution.

Some say that solution might be attracting a mid-level housing development. It’s been several years since a spec homes project was developed in Logansport.

Is it time to go after another one?

It’s a question that needs answered before opportunity knocks. And given the progress we’ve been seeing, it’s a knock we’re confident is coming.

THE ISSUE Lack of available mid-level housing in Logansport OUR VIEW Is it time to go after a housing development?