Could 2005 be the tipping point for Indiana to become the center for entrepreneurship in the world? That is a pretty bold statement, considering Indiana's poor track record. As executive director for Entrepreneur's Alliance of Indiana, I talk with many entrepreneurs that are excited about the direction Indiana is headed.
We have in place a strong educational component with several universities ded icated to research and development and the incubation of new ideas. Geographically we have always had an advantage, being in the middle of the country in close proximity to several major cities. We have had glimmers of success in our past, with entrepreneurs advancing new technologies, inventions and improving upon existing business models. Yet Indiana, to most outside our state, is known for little more than auto racing, basketball and cornfields.
So why could this year be the tipping point? The answer is in leadership. The election of a new governor, along with strong business-minded appointees to several key areas of state government, will be the factor that provides the catalyst for our state to grow our entrepreneurial community. No, I don't think political leaders have any magical solutions. But I do think these leaders will pass legislation that will make Indiana more attractive to entrepreneurs.
Here are a few items that I feel this administration will address:
Adopting daylight-saving time-Indiana is difficult to do business with because we never change time. To those that don't understand this, just talk to any logistics or distribution company, try to schedule a conference call with someone outside of Indiana, or ask someone that doesn't live in our state what time it is here.
Extending tax credits to businesses that create new jobs and temporarily reduce property-tax liability on businesses that locate or expand in Indiana. Entrepreneurs starting up a business are usually cash-strapped, so any relief incentives will get their attention.
Expanding income-tax credits that businesses receive on investments in research and make research development equipment exempt from state sales tax. This might not be a huge benefit to every entrepreneur, but to some in life sciences and high-tech industries, this could be a nice perk to growing their businesses here.
Requiring the state to do business with Indiana companies if possible.
I hope we are approaching our tipping point that will lead to many entrepreneurs choosing to build their businesses here. Entrepreneurs come in all sizes. Every entrepreneur deserves a chance to thrive in an environment that provides the best opportunity for success. Even though we have many pieces to entrepreneurial success in place, the entrepreneur controls the destiny of Indiana's business community. They must believe this is the right place to start or expand their business and do their part to achieve success. Government incentives and policy changes might help, but ultimately we must restore faith in entrepreneurs that they can be successful in Indiana. I am afraid that will only come after more success stories are achieved.