IBJOpinion

EDITORIAL: Revive 21st Century Fund, boost entrepreneurship

 IBJ Staff
September 11, 2010
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IBJ Editorial

The bad news: Hoosiers aren’t starting companies more frequently than they were a decade ago, in spite of a massive combined effort by government, universities and private investors to spur business generation.

That’s the word from a May report by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation (see story, page 3).

The good news: Our position nationally hasn’t fallen much, because many other states aren’t doing much better. Indiana remains solidly in the center.

“We seem to be hanging in there with [states such as Massachusetts, North Carolina and Washington],” said Donald Kuratko, who heads the entrepreneurship program at Indiana University.

“Hanging in there” doesn’t seem adequate, given the explosion of technology parks, college entrepreneurship programs, business incubators and government assistance in recent years. The past decade also has seen the birth of groups such as TechPoint and BioCrossroads, which promote the state’s technology and life sciences sectors, respectively.

Has it all been worth it?

David Millard answers with a resounding “yes!”

“The combination of all of these things happening has really made a change in Indiana’s economic environment for entrepreneurship,” said Millard, chairman of the business department at the local law firm Barnes and Thornburg. “I think the health of that is fantastic, the best of my 30-year career. Certainly, we have the most vibrant entrepreneurial economy in the Midwest.”

Although the sheer number of new businesses here may lag other states, our number of new “high-impact” firms has soared, Millard said. One example is ExactTarget, a local e-mail marketing company that was founded 10 years ago and now employs more than 700. Its rapid expansion is chronicled in a story on page 9.

The growth of such companies is a reminder that, even in the midst of a recession, businesses are flourishing around us. We congratulate the universities, trade groups and organizations such as the Venture Club that have kept the fire burning for business generation in spite of the faltering economy. Indeed, the Venture Club nearly folded a couple of times in the past, but now is drawing capacity crowds every month and has become one of the largest groups of its kind in the country.

Indiana has learned to grow smarter by targeting areas of strength, such as life sciences and electronic medical records and, more recently, electric vehicles and wind power.

One damper on growth has been the shrinking of the 21st Century Research and Technology Fund, which has lost half its support because of state budget woes. The fund provides capital to fledgling firms at a critical time, when they are nearing commercialization of their products.

As soon as state revenue permits, the state should bring this key program back to its funding level of $37 million a year, or boost it even higher. Once the fund is replenished and the economy revives, Indiana is poised to shine.

In the meantime, we must not allow the recession to cause us to slack off on our efforts to create and grow promising businesses. This work is paying off handsomely, in spite of what some statistics say.•

__________

To comment on this editorial, write to ibjedit@ibj.com.

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  1. I had read earlier this spring that Noodles & Co was going to open in the Fishers Marketplace (which is SR 37 and 131st St, not 141st St, just FYI). Any word on that? Also, do you happen to know what is being built in Carmel at Pennsylvania and Old Meridian? May just be an office building but I'm not sure.

  2. I'm sorry, but you are flat out wrong. There are few tracks in the world with the history of IMS and probably NO OTHER as widely known and recognized. I don't care what you think about the stat of Indy Car racing, these are pretty hard things to dispute.

  3. Also wondering if there is an update on the Brockway Pub-Danny Boy restaurant/taproom that was planned for the village as well?

  4. Why does the majority get to trample on the rights of the minority? You do realize that banning gay marriage does not rid the world of gay people, right? They are still going to be around and they are still going to continue to exist. The best way to get it all out of the spotlight? LEGALIZE IT! If gay marriage is legal, they will get to stop trying to push for it and you will get to stop seeing it all over the news. Why do Christians get to decide what is moral?? Why do you get to push your religion on others? How would legalizing gay marriage expose their lifestyle to your children? By the way, their lifestyle is going to continue whether gay marriage is legalized or not. It's been legal in Canada for quite a while now and they seem to be doing just fine. What about actual rules handed down by God? What about not working on Sundays? What about obeying your parents? What about adultery? These are in the 10 Commandments, the most important of God's rules. Yet they are all perfectly legal. What about divorce? Only God is allowed to dissolve a marriage so why don't you work hard to get divorce banned? Why do you get to pick and choose the parts of the Bible you care about?

  5. Look at the bright side. With the new Lowe's call center, that means 1000 jobs at $10 bucks an hour. IMS has to be drooling over all that disposable income. If those employees can save all their extra money after bills, in five years they can go to the race LIVE. Can you say attendance boost?

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