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Summer signs point to a healthy Elkhart County

Summer is here and summer is always a special time in Elkhart
County. Elkhart has enjoyed another fantastic Jazz Festival.

Your Chamber has hosted another fun golf outing. But our
outstanding festivals are only part of the outdoor fun.
More and more canoes and kayaks are appearing on our rivers
and lakes, as are the great pontoon boats made by Bennington
and Nautic Global Group. Our access to waterways is a
tremendous asset. Most communities do not have this kind of free
access to recreational water. You may remember a few years ago
when we asked people what they liked most about living in this
area. Access to water was toward the top of the list.
I try to drop a kayak in a local stream at least once a week.
We have the lake-like setting of the upper St. Joseph River. The
lower St. Joseph River offers a steady, but safe, current. The
Elkhart River provides a more natural look. And Christiana Creek
provides exciting rapids for the novice. If I was in Phoenix, I
would not be deciding which river to float next. I would be sitting
in a dry ditch staring at cactus.
Bicycling is the other outdoor activity that is gaining
popularity. The Pumpkinvine Trail attracts people from
throughout the region and beyond. The Maplehart Trail
connecting Elkhart to Ox Bow County Park and Goshen is a nice
amenity. We continue to urge the city to finish the connection
between our downtown RiverWalk and this trail. Participants
in the July 25 Bloom and Zoom bicycle event that starts in
Downtown Elkhart will try to make this connection. They will
also get to see one of the other features in our county, the Quilt
Garden Tour.
I hope you have had the opportunity to visit some of the Quilt
Gardens. There is one next door to the Chamber and another one
about a block away. Visitors stop by the Chamber frequently, so
we know the positive impact the Quilt Gardens are having on our
Perhaps the biggest sign that we are a community that
understands outdoor recreation is our important RV industry.
Throughout this country, people are enjoying the outdoors by
vacationing in an RV made within 10 miles of your house. If
you choose to travel outside our county for a vacation, you will
see our parts of your county driving on every road you take. If
you partake in the camping lifestyle, you will see an even larger
concentration of your home county in any campground you visit.
There is comfortable feeling that comes from traveling and
seeing homemade products at every turn. It is especially nice
to see people having fun, thanks to the product from your
Many years ago, before I called Elkhart home, I spent summers
working in Yellowstone National Park. I didn’t have a connection
to the RVs that dotted the roads out there. Instead, I remember
feeling a connection to home any time I would hear a John
Cougar Mellencamp song being played. (There was no radio
reception, so it had to be from somebody’s tape player.) Now,
when I travel, I still notice when Mellencamp is playing. But I feel
more proud of the connection to the spread of Elkhart-made RVs
that are helping people enjoy this great country.
Your Chamber has many connections to supporting th
summer activities that our community, and the country, enjoys.
Let me focus on one, because it is a vital one, and it is crucial.
Every RV, every camping trailer, every delivered boat depends on
quality roads. When you want to take your bicycle to the start of
the Pumpkinvine Trail or the Monon Trail in Indianapolis, you
drive on a road to get there, or you depend on a good, safe road.
Your Chamber has been working for many years to keep our
roads safe and efficient. In fact, we have a very good reputation
with the Indiana Department of Transportation because we
are able to bring together all the officials and agree on projects.
INDOT has learned that we are ready, willing, and able to work
with them. One of the ways we work with INDOT is through our
annual INDOT luncheon. Read about the luncheon and the new
INDOT Commissioner, Brandye Hendrickson, in this issue of
Leading Business.
Also in this issue, you will learn about the Pokagon Band
of Potawatomi Indians, a rewards program for recruiting new
Chamber members, and more.
We have a magazine full of great information for you to
read while you are relaxing from a long summer day of biking,
kayaking, canoeing and/or camping.

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Elkhart Chamber
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