WHITESTOWN, Ind. - Amazon held a job fair in Whitestown Wednesday hoping to hire 1,500 people on the spot for its three central Indiana locations, but it is struggling to fill its facilities. Dozens of companies around Indianapolis are having the same problem.
"It can be (challenging.) That labor that’s coming from outside the community has to have a way to get here," said Whitestown Town Manager Dax Norton.
Transportation is the biggest issue facing companies looking to hire in Boone and Hendricks County, Norton said, and adding to that issue is that many of the areas where there are jobs cost too much for the prospective employees to live.
In Boone County, there are more than 2,000 open job listings and in Hendricks County there are more than 4,000, according to the economic development partnerships there.
“If $15 an hour to $17 an hour is your primary income you are going to have a hard time living on the northwest side all the way to northeast side," Norton said. "We are going to have to do two things. We are going to have to provide workforce housings in the suburbs and we’re going to have to figure a way to expand our public mass transit opportunities."
Currently, a federal grant program pays for a bus service to take employees from Marion County to businesses in Whitestown, but the grant will run out in 2018.
Plainfield was selected for a similar grant in the past and now those businesses along the route have created an Economic Improvement District to pay for the service to continue.
“I believe many of the communities are finally realizing if they want to attract employers to their area they are going to need transportation options to get their employees to work," said Central Indiana Regional Transit Authority Outreach Representative Renee Walker.
Westfield is another central Indiana community looking to grow its manufacturing and industrial base, but the Mayor Andy Cook said there are simply just not enough workers for the municipality to attract some employers.
“The first question today (from prospective employers) usually is 'what’s your available workforce?'" said Cook.
Cook added this is a problem that is not going to go away anytime soon and it is imperative for central Indiana to address to remain competitive.
“It’s becoming a nationwide issue and that region that can address the issue is the region that is going to expand economically," Cook said.