Mali R. Schantz-Feld (Jun/Jul 08)
"We ended calendar year 2007 with a record number of jobs," says Nate Feltman, Indiana's Secretary of Commerce and CEO of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. Almost 23,000 new jobs were committed to industry sectors such as IT, life sciences, telecommunications, and manufacturing.
The Hoosier State has clinched first place in the Midwest in the Tax Foundation's 2008 Business Tax Climate Index, Forbes' list of the Cost of Doing Business, and the American Legislative Exchange Council's economic competitiveness survey.
"In the Midwest, Indiana stands out - with the lowest unemployment rate in the region," says Feltman. "We are doing darn well nationally, but in comparison on a regional level, we are one of the only states in the Midwest to be in an expansion mode. We are not at risk of a recession. We are the only state that has no budget deficit; in fact, we have a $1.1 billion surplus."
According to Feltman, $10 billion has been allocated for a 10-year construction program for new roads and highways. Passed in 2006, the Major Moves program began when the Indiana Toll Road was leased was to a consortium for $3.8 billion - the remainder is derived from interest on those funds.
By 2010, Amazon.com is expected to employ 1,200 people in Whitestown in a new 600,000-square-foot automated distribution center, and peak season September through February is expected to increase the work force to nearly 3,000 employees.
A $300 million automated pharmaceutical and distribution facility for Medco is being built adjacent to Amazon's facility, with additional plans for a personalized medicine research center that will feature active collaborations between Medco, universities, and the area's colleges of pharmacy. The facility will be as large as six and one-half football fields, filling 1 million prescriptions per week at full capacity. The project was lured by the pharmacy schools at Butler and Purdue Universities, the state's transportation network, and, according to Feltman, the quick actions of the Pharmacy Board to modernize some regulations to accommodate the automated pharmacy.
In foreign investment, "a 2007 study by IBM ranked Indiana number one in all North America in the creation of production jobs through foreign investment," says Feltman, pointing out Honda, Toyota, and Nestle, as examples. "Twenty percent of all of our jobs are from international sources. For the past three years, the governor has gone to Asia and Europe, and his emphasis on investment has paid off."