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Counties compiling workers’ wage data

Info will be used to help lure business

Private employers in four northeast Indiana counties are being asked to divulge wage and benefits information to create a report that will help businesses ensure competitive pay.

Economic development agencies in DeKalb, LaGrange, Noble and Steuben counties have teamed up to create a Web portal for businesses in the area to submit employment and related information. Officials expect to have results from the poll by May.

Hard copies of the results will be sent to participating companies.

“Last year, we did a survey with just our county, but the more participants the better the data,” said Rick Sherck, executive director of the Noble County Economic Development Corp. “We reached out to (the other counties) to take part.”

Although businesses in the four counties may be competitors, having data from the region will prove beneficial, Sherck said.

“We’re trying to build relationships with industries and trying to find out what (resources) will be better for them,” he said.

Last year, Noble County leaders surveyed 30 companies in various fields. Participants said engineers were among the most difficult positions to fill and that most recruiting came from direct referrals.

An electrical engineer in Noble County averaged $67,166 a year, based on the survey results. An industrial engineer made $54,275.

The combined annual sales of the participating businesses were $1.7 billion in 2012.

“This type of data is requested of economic development organizations quite frequently,” Keith Gillenwater, president and CEO of the LaGrange County Economic Development Corp., said in a statement.

“When recruiting companies to an area, it is vitally important to have access to up-to-date data on all aspects of employment as area wages and benefits can weigh into a companies’ decision to locate.”

The survey will be conducted entirely online and companies will be assigned a unique code to access the survey. Participation will remain confidential. The cost of developing and printing the poll is being partly underwritten by Indiana Michigan Power, Wabash Valley Power, NIPSCO, the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership and the Northeast Indiana Workforce Investment Board.

Sherck said the estimated cost of the survey is $6,000.

pwyche@jg.net

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