Updated: Thursday, 07 Mar 2013, 7:26 AM EST
Published : Wednesday, 06 Mar 2013, 10:44 PM EST
VINCENNES, IND. (WTHI) - A southern Indiana community looks to the strengths of its past and present to try and build a better future.
Knox County has kept its unemployment rate for the last decade below the Indiana rate while raising overall wages above the state average.
One of the key elements driving the local economy is agriculture.
The county is looking more toward the farm to help grow economic opportunity.
Snow covers the fields, but those fields and the crops they produce are not only an important to farmers, but they hold the potential to be catalyst for economic growth.
That was the message at the Knox County Development Corporation annual meeting.
"It can attract businesses that support agriculture, that processes the goods that we produce," said Indiana Farm Bureau President and Knox County farmer Don Villwock. "It can grow tremendously in that respect and even agriculture production is a great opportunity."
"We always are trying to land the highest paying, highest qualifying jobs that we can," said K.C.D.C. President Gary Gentry, "but you know you have to build from the foundations of your strengths."
Agriculture already pumps $200-million a year into the local economy in Knox County and officials believe that with some cooperation, innovation and even determination they can leverage what is happening on the farm into more opportunities and a better community.
Some of that is already happening.
Farbest is investing $100-million into Knox County and by the time its new processing plant opens late this year it will provide more than 300 jobs.
"I think we have more opportunities to bring more in, to do more fruit and vegetable processing because we can grow about any crop that's produced in the United States here in Knox County," said Villwock.
Production from the land that can mean more economic growth in this part of the Wabash Valley.
Currently Knox County is number one in the state in the value of agricultural products.
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