• by Kirk Gaw

Outlook On Walkerton 2018

Walkerton is a unique community. It has a long dynamic history founded from the Railroad during the early 19th Century. It is the birthplace of Harold C. Urey considered the Father of NASA, and leader of the Manhattan Project that brought us into the "Atomic Age." Urey left a legacy of teaching that eminates from the great schools here, awarded many times over. And it continues to be the prosperous home of industry, primarily casting. Most people are surprised to learn that over 50 companies call Walkerton their home!

Photo by Craig Reed II

Walkerton has a full time Economic Development Director, Philip Buckmaster. And a Chamber of Commerce! The Town of Walkerton continues to collaborate with the Economic Development Office located at 612 Roosevelt. Many professionals there continue to offer assistance and nurture the cares and concerns of yearning business people.

Photo by Craig Reed II

Karol Jackson, Town Board President says Helping vitalize the area's economy has become a big priority. "The economic growth of Walkerton is a big concern," said Jackson. "It's a small community but we want to be able to continue to offer the kinds of things that sustain it and help it grow."

Buckmaster will focus the area's efforts."Economic growth is the most important thing in these hard times," said Buckmaster. "This collaboration will keep us moving forward in the process we've started here."

Progress is evident including the recent demolition of the old "Mercon Tool & Die." The crumbling buildings were razed to make way for future development. The old Hiler casting plant also, on Roosevelt Rd. is available for planning! Several commercial properties on the east side of the Roosevelt corridor remain to be available for entrepreneurs seeking to offer business to the community.

Recently ABC 57 reported on the Southwestern St. Joseph County Economic Development Initiative making way for more retail and added services to help start-ups between Walkerton, and North Liberty:

"If you’re thinking about starting a business or looking to expand, the towns of North Liberty and Walkerton want to welcome you. They are working to incentive business owners to set up shop in town.

Photo by Bruce Smith

Both towns have growing populations. Town leaders want to see the trend continue and improve the quality of life for current residents. Build a life, build a business is the motto.“We’ve got a lot of opportunity,” said Walkerton Economic Director Phil Buckmaster. “People want to get out of the big cities and into the bedroom communities"added North Liberty Clerk Treasurer Vicki Kitchen.

Town leaders in North Liberty and Walkerton want those people to come here. “We have nice safe communities, great school corporation. We have a lot of things to offer in these two communities. And whatever works in one helps the other one,” said Buckmaster said. So they are starting a campaign to promote their area. “Walkerton and North Liberty came up with a list of what we have to offer in the two communities as initiatives for somebody to come to town,” Kitchen explained.

In Walkerton, residents would see tax abatements, redevelopment funds TIF, and utility options. In North Liberty, façade grants for existing and new businesses, tourism, and regional marketing. So what businesses are they looking for? “Well North Liberty would like a grocery store,” said Kitchen. They want to attract more restaurants and cafes and fill up empty store fronts.

North Liberty is 6 miles and 8 minutes from Walkerton.

Walkerton is looking for internet based companies, and more specialized health care professionals, like an eye doctor for example.They said they can’t say enough good things about their community. You just need to come experience it for yourself.“We are centrally located. In any direction you go. We’re 15 minutes to La Porte, to South Bend, Plymouth,”

Kitchen said. “We have a lot of good things happening in both communities with expansion and housing expansion and the likes. And by doing so we felt it was important we promote our area,” added Buckmaster. - ABC 57

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