Ideal places for public companies

February 13, 2009
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Just as an Indiana company goes through the nationâ??s first initial public offering in months, its executives ratchet up their plans to move the headquarters out of state.

Mead Johnson, the Evansville baby formula maker, staged a successful IPO on Wednesday, and saw its share price climb 10 percent on its first day as a public company.

But the execs intend to move the headquarters and several dozen people to Chicagoâ??s northern suburbs, where nutritional expertise and flights are easier to come by.

Lots of public companies have headquarters in small- and medium-sized cities. Wabash National, which manufactures truck trailers, is in Lafayette. Kimball International makes furniture in the southern Indiana hardwood center of Jasper. Warsaw, in northern Indiana, has Zimmer, the prosthetics giant.

Is a smaller city inherently deficient as a home for a public company headquarters? Is there anything inherently wrong with Evansville?

For that matter, how about Indianapolis as a headquarters city? After all, precious few Fortune 500 companies call Indianapolis home.
  • Yah, wish they could have relocated those C's into Indy tho. Evansville, after just spending 2 weeks down there. Isn't bad, but does lack a lot of amenities that a city should have or at least a consistent image and cohesiveness. For a company that is as global as MJ, I can understand wanting to be closer to a lot of where their research and knowledge comes from. So until Evansville, and really Indiana overall can become more recongnized Globally, and offer some of those amenities that global companies are looking for, continue to witness large companies using Indiana as an incubator - then moving on to bigger better things. Which in all honesty, we need to come to the realization that that is what Indiana is for for a lot of people (A Stepping stone, springboard where we can get a great foundation and then let it blossom somewhere else.)
  • Where are the Governor and Mayor on this one? Indianapolis has a new airport, Indiana University Medical School and major research companies like Lilly and Roache. The City and State should leave no stone unturned for this kind of a company.
  • They have been running Mead Johnson's global business out of Evansville for decades, what's the problem? If you want to upgrade, why not Indianapolis?

    Mitch should have been able to call Jim Cornelius CEO of Bristol Myers, parent and majority shareholder of Mead Johnson, and get the headquarters located somewhere in Indiana.

    Cornelius was Mitch's largest campaign donor and is the former chairman of Guidant and Eli Lilly executive. You would think that this would have been an relatively easy win, but now it is a huge corporate headquarters loss like Lincoln National to Fort Wayne or Ball Corp to Muncie.
  • This was a test for Indiana's life science initiative, BioCrossroads, and the Indiana Health Industry Forum.

    After years of planning, substantial marketing and promotional efforts, and tens of millions of dollars of investment by government, university and corporate partnerships, they failed to retain the headquarters of one of the largest life science companies in the state.

    There needs to be some serious soul searching after this loss and a refocused energy on getting RESULTS.
  • As we all know, the last time Indianapolis had a leg up on Chicago was just after fire burned the city to the ground. (Then became the fastest growing city in the world with b/m/s/s & g buildings). I'm surprised the 'guv' didn't offer 4-trillion dollars to stay.
  • One of the reasons they aren't part of the BioCrossroads or LifeScience initiative is because there has never been a focus on Evansville as a part of that initiative. The state should have started awhile ago about relocating to central Indiana. Remember, only about 60 people are moving, but the loss of the MJ name as a HQ in Indiana is far worse than losing 60 people.
  • The answer is here:

    There's nothing Mitch could do about it.

    Consider too, moving the HQ to Indianapolis would certainly not do wonders for building better relations between Indy and southwest Indiana.

    Yes, I'd rather see Mead Johnson in Indiana, but we are talking a small number of jobs here. The vast bulk of the jobs are staying in Evansville.

    Indy is starting to get to the place where it can compete in these situations. We won't win them all, but I think if we keep up the relentless pressure for civic improvement, we'll win more and more over time.
  • 2 words. Tax Breaks.

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