TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAVWV) — The pandemic brought many challenges to, not only the nation’s economy, but the local economy as well.
While 2020 was a difficult year, city officials said they are optimistic for what is to come.
Steve Witt, president of Terre Haute Economic Development Corporation, said there is no rule book on running the economy during a pandemic. Times are still unprecedented, but Witt said the diversity of our local economy is helping recovery.
“We have our manufacturing sector, our agricultural sector, retail, hospitality, our higher education institutions,” Witt said. “And so many other things that other communities our size aren’t as fortunate to have.”
He said the manufacturing sector has been doing fine during the pandemic, but a part of the local economy that has been significantly challenged is the lodging industry.
Dave Patterson, executive director of Terre Haute’s Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the local lodging is a $30 million industry.
According to Patterson, the city lost around one million dollars of tax money from hotels compared to the previous year. This ended 25 years of continuous growth.
Duke Bennett, mayor of Terre Haute, said hotels, motels, restaurants and small businesses were hit especially hard this year.
But Bennett said he is looking forward to several projects in 2021. These include the convention center and casino, which he expects the groundbreaking for very soon.
“I guess overall the pandemic, I think, really put a damper on things and distracted all of us but overall held our own through all of this,” Bennett said.
According to the mayor, a priority in 2021 will be growing the workforce pool and improving training to attract higher tech industries to Terre Haute.
“I’m worried about our pool not being big enough to recruit the next big business,” he said. “Everybody always wants more better paying jobs.”