Their ideas -- nanotechnology equipment, clean-coal technology, hybrid motors -- sit in a stack, more than 2 inches thick, on the desk of Brian Gildea, the city's economic development director.
Some of the ideas will undoubtedly become real factories one day, but that could be months or years away. For now, the area has banked on help from the president's stimulus plan. The county has gotten its share -- $38 million approved so far. Of that, the city of Elkhart has gotten $14 million approved.
Mayor Moore pointed to the city's first completed stimulus project -- a $3.8-million project to resurface the main runway of the Elkhart Municipal Airport that put about 100 people to work temporarily.
Now, there are hints of recovery. Seven area manufacturing firms, including makers of auto insulation parts, office chairs and RVs, have announced plans to expand their operations.
On Tuesday, Dometic America said it would put more than 240 people back to work in Elkhart, when it moves its air conditioner manufacturing here from a factory in Sweden.
And at the shuttered Monaco RV plant in Wakarusa, where Obama was scheduled to speak this morning, the doors have reopened and cars fill the parking lot again.
Obama will use the trip to announce grants for advanced battery and electric vehicle production, according to the White House. He'll also talk about what's needed to create conditions for sustained growth.
Ed Neufeldt was one of at least 1,400 people who lost their jobs at Monaco late last year. The 63-year-old had spent more than three decades in the factory's milling shop, turning planks of wood into RV cabinets.
Two of his daughters also worked at the company, as did two of his sons-in-law. Of the four, three were laid off. The fourth kept his job, but it was cut back to only a few hours a week.
In February, the White House contacted Neufeldt and asked him to introduce the president. He agreed to help sell the stimulus plan by telling America how much his family needed help.
Since then, one of his sons-in-law, a welder, has been hired by an RV company. The other had his job restored to four days a week. Neufeldt and one of his daughters have found part-time work delivering bread.
Neufeldt plans to attend Obama's speech today.
"I'm feeling really optimistic, but my family's more cautious," he said. "I guess we're all waiting to see what happens next."
Peter Nicholas in the Washington bureau contributed to this report.