Back From Japan, Crawfordsville Mayor Barton Must Solve Skilled Worker Problem

Sep 19, 2017

The mayor says he agrees with Japanese officials that Indiana and his county have too few skilled workers to fill high-tech jobs that might be created.
Credit J. Stephen Conn

Crawfordsville Mayor Todd Barton has returned from the state’s economic development trip to Japan, where he visited with executives of two long-time Montgomery County employers.

Barton says city officials have begun trying to get other prospective Japanese investors with whom the mayor had contact to travel to Indiana.

“We are, starting this week, reaching out to those contacts," Barton says. "Following up on those discussions that we had there, and really hope to be setting up some visits here for them to come and really see our community and kind of check out the lay of the land here.”

Barton says those include executives from automotive, food processing and electronics manufacturing companies, among others. But he says he and his hosts agree the state’s shortage of skilled workers poses a significant barrier to any additional investment.

“The key thing we heard from these larger Japanese corporations about their investment in the United States is the same thing we’re hearing from domestic companies as well, and that is: workforce is the driving issue that really limits us and there’s no doubt that that is the case in Crawfordsville and Montgomery County,” the mayor says.

Both Barton and White County leaders who were on the trip highlighted their proximity to Lafayette’s Subaru factory as a reason to invest in outlying communities to the automobile plant.