Bartholomew County sees $500 million in investment during pandemic, recovery

The Greater Columbus Economic Development Corporation was able to have its first in-person annual meeting in three years on Friday afternoon, touting half a billion dollars in investment and business expansions in the community.

Tony Miller, outgoing board chairman for the the group recapped the struggles of the past three years, during the pandemic.

He  said that in late 2019 and early 2020, unemployment stood at around 2.3 percent in the county with just over 44,000 people employed. Then the pandemic and the shutdowns hit, driving the unemployment rate to 17.5 percent and losing more than 10,000 workers.

But the county has largely recovered with 2.6 percent unemployment and just over 43,000 employed.

Jason Hester, president of the corporation, talked about the continuing problems businesses have recruiting employees.

The corporation is working with employers to help find and retain the employees they need. He said businesses often ask, where are the workers, do they have the skills a business needs and how to hire and keep those workers.

According to the presentation, Bartholomew County has seen almost $82 million in expansion in the Edinburgh area, $140.5 million near Walesboro plus another $17.9 million in other parts of Columbus. Those business expansions led to 2,500 jobs retained and 476 new jobs. Hester coupled that with $260 million in public/private community investments for $500 million in total investments.