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Corporate Executive Survey Commentary: Midwest Benefits From Its Manufacturing Heritage

Sweeping changes in tax codes and business regulations, as well as investment in infrastructure and the work force have put the Midwest back on site selectors’ maps.

Q1 2015
Is the Midwest (IL, IN, MI, OH, WI) surpassing the South (AL, FL, GA, LA, MS)? The results of Area Development’s 2014 Corporate Survey show that 20 percent of all new domestic facilities planned will be located in the Midwest versus 17 percent in the South.

Over the last couple of years, governors of the Midwest States recognized their strength was not just purely locational, but also that they had a longstanding manufacturing heritage. They recognized that a return to being the heart and soul of manufacturing would only come with sweeping changes in the respective state tax codes, modifications of business regulations, improved highway infrastructure, and measures for growing and improving their existing skilled workforce. Over the past couple of years the Midwest States have come back. The hard work has paid off.

To sustain this growth, the Midwest is going to have to continue to listen to corporate occupiers and respond to their needs. They are going to have to find ways to work with community partners to make more land and buildings available near population centers with skilled workforces. The hard work has just begun. The Midwest must continue to trend in a positive direction. The Midwest must recognize what the South has recognized for a long time, that economic development is not a sprint but rather a marathon. Hopefully another region will join the lead pack next year, so corporations can start to believe in an economic recovery.
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