A conversation with. Nate Feltman, Indiana Secretary of Commerce and CEO of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation
" We have more miles of interstate highways per square mile than any than any other state in the country, so as a result, we tend to be a hub for distribution for the Midwest and East Coast."
A. For the past couple of years, we have been focusing on four core areas: advanced manufacturing, life sciences, distribution/transportation/logistics, and advanced agriculture, including biofuels and hardwoods (furniture production). There is also an emphasis on the specialty sectors, such as insurance and banking, motorsports, and a new focus on the film industry.
Q. What are your strengths?
A. In 2006, 186 companies chose Indiana in a competitive situation, committing to 22,000 new jobs over the next several years. That's $8.4 billion in capital investment. Our largest wins were Honda's newest facility in Decatur County near Greensburg that is expected to become operational in fall 2008 and create 2,000 new jobs; and Toyota's addition of 1,000 new jobs at Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc. in Lafayette as a result of a collaborative agreement announced between SIA parent Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (FHI) and Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC). Cummins, a homegrown engine manufacturer, has chosen its Columbus Engine Plant as the production facility for the company's new family of light-duty clean-diesel engines. Production is expected to start by 2010 and will create 600 to 800 new jobs within two years, as well as attract new suppliers. Collectively, these three involve a $1 billion investment, and upwards of 3,700 jobs.
Q. What other industries show promise?
A. As you know, there is a renewed emphasis on alternative energies at a national level to reduce our nation's dependence on foreign oil. Almost $2 billion of our $8.4 billion investment is in alternative energy - ethanol and biodiesel plants. In the last two years, 15 more ethanol plants have committed. Indiana is also the fourth-largest producer of soybeans. Next year, the largest soy diesel plant in the world will be starting operation southwest of Claypool, owned by French firm Louis Dreyfus Agricultural Industries LLC. Upon completion, it will be one of the world's first biodiesel production plants to be fully integrated with a soybean processing plant.
In life sciences, Pfizer is producing one of its newest patents, the Exubera inhaler, at a new facility in Terre Haute, at an investment of $175 million and 450 new jobs. California manufacturer Beckman Coulter, maker of centrifuges, will move its Palo Alto, California, operations to the Central Indiana area by the end of 2008, creating approximately 212 new life science-related jobs. Also, Oxford Biosignals' new project creates 125 new jobs. Our medical school at Indiana University is the second-largest medical school in the country. Our huge life sciences base includes Eli Lilly's headquarters, Dow Agro Sciences, and headquarters for Roche Diagnostics. Spinoffs are starting to surface. Maaguzi, a spinoff from Eli Lilly, will create 50 jobs in its efforts to increase efficiency in drug trials using technology.
Q. Has any legislation spurred already existing sectors?
A. We have more miles of interstate highways per square mile than any than any other state in the country, so as a result, we tend to be a hub for distribution for the Midwest and East Coast. In 2006, announcements included a huge distribution center in Gas City for Wal-Mart, as well as a distribution center for Dollar General in Marion. In 2006, we were able to accomplish a fully-funded infrastructure plan for the next 10 years by leasing our Indiana Toll Road 80/90 in the northern part of the state to a Spanish-Australian consortium for an upfront payment of $4 billion to fund our highway programs over the next 10 years. Governor Mitch Daniels led the charge on this. Governors of other states are studying this transaction, which gives the ability to take public assets and create immediate value.
The legislature also passed a modern telecommunications bill to encourage more investment by improving broadband, fiberoptic services, cable, and telephone. It has opened up the market, as we have seen major rural investment by AT&T and Verizon. AT&T announced in 2007 a 450-person Yahoo high-speed Internet call center in Indianapolis, as well as a 75,000-square-foot call center in Evansville, employing 500 jobs as a result of that legislation.
Q. What about foreign trade?
A. The governor and the IEDC have reached out in trade missions. This year will be our third trip to Japan, and we are also traveling to Europe to meet with British and German companies. We are traveling around the world and around the country to Dallas, New York, Chicago, and Boston to pursue investment.