LOCATION FOCUS: Things are Heating Up in the Hoosier State

By Ed Felton
From the July/August 2012 issue

Indiana has much to offer both business and individuals alike. The state business climate cultivates success with favorable costs, shovel-ready sites, support and expertise and a skilled workforce. Operating expenses are kept to a minimum with a competitive tax structure, low workers compensation rates and low industrial electricity. While Indiana offers an array of industry opportunities, its focus is on being a world-class center of research and manufacturing with life sciences, automobiles, energy and national security target industry sectors.

Known as the “Crossroads of America,” Indiana is traversed by more interstates than any other state in the nation and provides more than 11,000 total highway miles. Logistically ideal, the state is within a day’s drive of 80 percent of the U.S. population and supplies a vast transportation network served by three international airports, the world’s second-largest FedEx hub, a rail system with more than 4,400 miles of active railway tracks, and three marine ports on Lake Michigan and the Ohio River, each a Foreign Trade Zone.

Indiana’s population of 6,516,922 (July 1, 2011 U.S. Census Bureau estimate) has access to a well-rounded landscape of dynamic cities, nature preserves, and small-town coziness with one of the most affordable major housing markets in the nation. Indiana showcases a number of institutes of higher learning, including Purdue University at West Lafayette, Indiana University at Bloomington; the University of Notre Dame at South Bend and Butler University in Indianapolis. Residents can enjoy more than one million acres of land for outdoor recreation and a variety of athletic events. Indianapolis is home to the Indiana Pacers professional basketball team and the Indianapolis Colts in pro football. The city also hosts the “Indy 500”, one of the most significant motorsports events in the world and the RCA Championship men’s tennis tournament.

Investment keeps growing in Hendricks County
Half a billion dollars is a huge number. From January 2007 to December 2011, Hendricks County Economic Development Partnership (HCEDP) worked with communities and companies to bring $508.8 million in investment from new and existing business. In 2011 alone, there was more than $78 million. Distribution, medical device and ‘community of champions’ racing teams all help make for a strong and vibrant economy.

The attraction for local companies is simple economics as well. Hendricks County is adjacent to the Indianapolis Airport and offers a number of interstate interchanges to move product easily in all directions.  In addition, the town of Avon is home to the CSX Rail Yard.

CSX Rail Yard, Avon, IN

Consider that those same five years saw the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, the near-failure and bailout of the nation’s financial services sector and a worldwide shortage of capital. While the nation’s unemployment rate moved to levels not seen for decades, local efforts resulted in the addition of 7,814 jobs. In fact, Money Magazine reported that Hendricks County is in the top 20 counties nationwide for job growth while Brownsburg and Plainfield, two of its premier communities, were recognized as best places to live.

But it’s more than simply adding jobs. Success has made it possible for more Hendricks County residents to work where they live, contributing to   personal satisfaction and a greater quality of life. Hendricks County offers top rated school systems and strong, coordinated training programs with six postgraduate facilities that provide everything from credentialing to degreed programs.

In the second half of 2012 the nation continues to face economic uncertainty. The story is different for Hendricks County. It has a vibrant, healthy economy and local leaders in both the public and private sectors who share a commitment to strengthening the area, building upon the success it’s enjoyed and enhancing the excellent quality of life Hendricks County has to offer. HCEDP will continue to play a key role in fulfilling all aspects of that commitment.

Indiana: Top Business Choice
Indiana has been a top 10 choice in best business climate opportunity rankings categories for several years now, and more recently with the passage of right-to-work legislation, is closing in on the top five.

Site selectors and real estate brokers bring Indiana a substantial percentage of new business. For years they’ve been saying that Indiana was missing out on a number of perfect-fit opportunities because of its non-right-to-work status. The current administration worked hard to change that, and after nearly six months of data collected since its passage in February, the state is seeing indicators that the industry advice was spot-on.

Gov. Mitch Daniels has moved Indiana into the right-to-work column.

Nearly half of recent attraction prospects indicated that right-to-work legislation was a major factor in their decision to consider bringing business to Indiana. And nearly a fourth of Indiana’s expansion prospects indicated that it influenced their decision to build larger facilities and hire more Hoosier workers inside the state. That might not seem like good news to advisors and brokers outside of Indiana. However, being able to tell companies looking at Indiana as a location possibility that it’s an attractive environment for new as well as existing companies—keeping them competitive for the long haul—is news worth sharing outside the state.

This kind of individual advice and expertise is every bit as important as the broader national analysis and indicators typically relied on to judge the effectiveness of economic developers. Indiana brings together state, local and community partners to leverage every resource available for a business proposal that benefits everyone. The numbers speak for themselves about the results of Indiana’s increasingly sound fiscal policies, but they tell only part of a compelling story about its state of business. The rest of the story is about Indiana’s commitment to listening to what individual businesses need in order to be successful, and doing everything possible to make that happen.

Comments and suggestions about what can be improved to make Indiana a destination of choice for your business can be sent to the Indiana Economic Development Corporation at IEDC@iedc.in.gov.