Business

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Business opportunities are virtually endless in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph, thanks to unbeatable incentives like: No Taxes! Your eyes are not deceiving you! Those who choose to partner with us by locating to one of our Renaissance Zone areas can actually forego writing checks to the tax man for up to 10 years. (By the way, that includes residents as well as businesses under the right circumstances!) We also guarantee optioning of the properties at a price of $1,000 to $3,500 per acre, and will back any commitment made by the community with a $250,000 bond posted in favor of the company.

The payoffs for such generosity are rich: we recently attracted two diverse companies that brought more than 30 million dollars in investment to the area...along with 225 new jobs. You can count on the leaders of our community to recruit new companies at a steady pace, keeping the economy humming for everyone.

graphicHere’s a little math for you. We support nearly 200 manufacturers and processors, which account for 29% of our employment distribution. The Service Sector of our community comprises another 24%, while trade weighs in at 22%; government at 12%; finance-communication-and-utilities reflect 4% each; construction trades another 3%; and agriculture rounds out the pie at 2% of the work force.

Nearly three quarters of the workforce in the region hold a high school diploma, and almost 17% a bachelor’s degree. More than 75% of the employee base is non-union.

graphicIn order to keep promises to new and existing business, Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce partners with key programs and providers working to strengthen an already healthy employee pool. The results of the partnership are measurable: in 1985 our available work force grew by only 2.8%; ten years later, in 1995, that availability increased by 5.7 % over 12 months. That growth can be directly attributed to a variety of efforts, including:

  • Cornerstone Alliance, an investor-driven economic development team focused on job creation, grant acquisitions for the community, physical development, recruitment and attraction, investments and more.
  • The Benton Harbor Workforce Skill Development Center, a self-paced course teaching job-specific and life skills by way of a multi-media computer-based program provided to area job applicants.
  • The Community Partnership for Lifelong Learning, which integrates business practices into area school curriculums, encourages businesses to recognize the importance and value of course work in secondary education, and sponsors summer hands-on internships with a broad spectrum of business and industry for students in the sixth grade.
  • Cornerstone Alliance Small Business Assistance and Development, providing counseling, training, and technical and financial resource and assistance to help small businesses start up and grow.
  • A number of other community-wide partnerships designed to encourage a stable business economy!

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