South Bend: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

South Bend's diversified economic base consists principally of educational and health services, wholesale and retail trade, manufacturing, and government. In 2004 Expansion Management magazine ranked South Bend—for the first time—among the 40 hottest real estate markets for business. South Bend made the list based on available land, office and industrial space inventory, along with redevelopment opportunities for new and expanding companies.

The city benefits greatly from being a college town; in particular, Notre Dame University has a considerable impact on the economy of South Bend. The area's largest employer, Notre Dame experienced a 21 percent increase in full-time faculty and staff between 1993 and 2002. The university further contributes to the area economy by partnering with area businesses for research and development projects, and providing strong job market candidates.

Health services have also boomed in South Bend in recent years. Memorial Health System has grown to become the area's second-largest employer. From the mid-1990s through 2005, Memorial made approximately $300 million in capital investments to its hospital, located downtown. Memorial's success has been linked to its central location, medical research conducted through Notre Dame, and a recent proliferation of medical-related business startups in the area.

St. Joseph County is the second-largest retail market area in the state next to Indianapolis, with nationally recognized retailers including Old Navy, Marshall Fields, Barnes & Noble, and Ethan Allen, to name a few. Manufacturing industries in the area include non-electrical machinery, transportation equipment, and rubber and various plastic products. AM General, producer of HMMWV (a.k.a. HUMMER) military and special purpose vehicles, is headquartered in South Bend and is one of the city's largest employers. The company's corporate offices are in South Bend, and its production facilities are in nearby Mishawaka.

Another important industry in the county is tourism, which generates a significant number of jobs and revenues. Aside from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Notre Dame University attracts the most visitors in Indiana—nearly 700,000 visitors annually—and the county gains nearly $40 million in visitor expenditures through the university's football games alone.

Items and goods produced: airplanes and auto parts, aluminum castings, fixtures, conveyor components, electronic controls, machine tools, dies, drills, fabricated steel products, military vehicles, office furniture, pet food, plastic coated fabrics, corrugated boxes and cartons, windows and doors, printing rollers and inks, paints, food, condiments, metal stampings, wire and cable processing

Incentive Programs—New and Existing Companies

Local programs

The city's Division of Economic Development actively promotes the retention and expansion of existing businesses and the development of new business in the city. Their offerings include financing programs, relocation incentives, land/building availability assistance, industrial revenue bonds for manufacturing facilities, tax abatement, and technical assistance through local partnerships.

State programs

The state of Indiana extends various grants and loans to local governments and companies. The state offers a variety of incentives to new and expanding businesses, such as tax credits for investment and training, and through its Community Assistance, Energy Efficiency, Infrastructure, Renewable Energy, Technology, Trade Show, and Training programs. The International Trade Division of the Indiana Department of Commerce encourages foreign investment locally.

Job training programs

Customized training and consultants are available from a number of state and local providers. Funding to cover training costs is available in some cases.

Development Projects

In 2004 construction started on 147 new homes, a 5 percent increase from the previous year. A new retail project, known as Erskine Village, is being created on the city's east side; it is destined to become a 510,000-square-foot, $35 million retail center. South Bend is redeveloping the old Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Co. and Oliver Chilled Plow Works industrial corridors for warehousing and distribution, which will become the home of light industrial, warehouse, and distribution facilities. St. Joseph Valley MetroNet, a local not-for-profit corporation, is working to install fiber optic cable in existing city conduit; this state-of-the-art communication system will allow businesses to share large amounts of data quickly and securely. Additionally, South Bend is promoting the creation of a Certified Technology Park.

Economic Development Information: Chamber of Commerce of St. Joseph County, 401 E. Colfax Ave., Ste. 310, South Bend, IN 46617; telephone (574)234-0051

Commercial Shipping

Designated a Foreign Trade Zone, South Bend is a center for manufacturers, suppliers, and vendors throughout the United States and abroad. About six air freight carriers ship goods through South Bend Regional Airport. A network of interstate highways, including I-80/90, the nation's major east-west axis route, provides access to more than 70 motor freight carriers. Rail freight service is provided by Canadian National, Norfolk and Southern, CSX, and Chicago Southshore South Bend Railroad.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

South Bend and its environs boast one of the highest concentrations of educational institutions per capita in the Midwest. Employment opportunities are on the upswing, as indicated at the University of Notre Dame—business interviews of students in the fall of 2004 were up roughly 30 percent from the previous year. South Bend has a large pool of skilled and semi-skilled laborers that are reported to be available, affordable, and reliable. The wage structure is competitive with other industrial communities.

The following is a summary of data regarding the South Bend-Mishawaka metropolitan area labor force, 2004 annual average:

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 144,100

Number of workers employed in . . .

construction and mining: 6,700

manufacturing: 21,700

trade, transportation and utilities: 28,500

information: 2,400

financial activities: 7,100

professional and business services: 12,200

educational and health services: 30,800

leisure and hospitality: 12,100

other services: 5,600

government: 16,800

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $12.41

Unemployment rate: 5.9% (February 2005)

South Bend: Economy

Largest employers Number of employees
University of Notre Dame 4,802
Memorial Health System 3,493
South Bend Community School Corp. 3,303
St. Joseph Regional Medical Center 2,935
The Diocese of Fort Wayne/South Bend 2,500
AM General 2,151
St. Joseph County 1,750
Martin's Supermarkets 1,484
City of South Bend 1,400
Indiana University South Bend 1,300

Cost of Living

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors in the South Bend area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $241,885

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 95.5 (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: 3.4% of adjusted gross income

State sales tax rate: 6.0% (food, prescription drugs, and items consumed or used in manufacturing are exempt)

Local income tax rate: 0.0075 (county)

Local sales tax rate: None

Property tax rate: Averages 1.2 percent annually (2003)

Economic Information: Chamber of Commerce of St. Joseph County, 401 E. Colfax Ave., Ste. 310, South Bend, IN 46617; telephone (574)234-0051