State eco-devo agency inked fewer incentive deals in 2016

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The Indiana Economic Development Corp. secured 30 percent fewer incentive deals this year than it did in 2015—and that’s actually a good thing, the agency says.

A big part of the IEDC’s work involves trying to convince existing and new companies to invest in Indiana and add jobs in the state. To do that, the agency can offer tax credits and training grants that employers can claim once they meet certain agreed-upon investment and job-creation goals.

The IEDC completed 227 such projects this year, as compared to 323 last year. Those 227 deals represented commitments to add a cumulative 20,320 Indiana jobs, as compared with 26,555 in 2015. They also represent an expected $3.69 billion in total investment, down from $4.79 billion in 2015.

This year’s decline broke a four-year streak of increases—the agency secured 219 deals in 2011, and that number rose each year after that—until 2016.

IEDC spokeswoman Abby Gras said the decline in deals is a reflection of the strength of Indiana’s economy right now.

“What we’re seeing is that we’re at full employment—record employment—so we’re being more selective in the companies we’re offering incentives to,” she said.

Indiana’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in November was 4.2 percent, its lowest since 2001. Around the state, Greene and Lake counties had the highest unemployment rate, at 5.4 percent. Bartholomew and Dubois counties both had the lowest rate, at 2.9 percent.

One number that did increase in this year's incentive deals was the one for average wages.

The new jobs associated with the IEDC projects this year will pay, on average, $25.43 per hour. That’s up from $24.87 in 2015, and it’s 20 percent higher than average wage statewide.

The wage increase, said IEDC Chief of Staff Steve Akard, is “the big takeaway for the year.”

“We have very deliberatively focused on this, with a record level of wages per job and per hour that’s been committed on our projects this year,” Akard said at the IEDC’s Dec. 13 board meeting, according to a transcript from that meeting.

Ranked by number of jobs announced, the top 10 deals of the year: Inc. in Marion County (800 new jobs); 

Allied Solutions LLC in Hamilton County (614 new jobs) 

MOBI Wireless Management LLC in Boone County (521 new jobs); 

Republic Services Inc. in Hamilton County (569 new jobs); 

Knight Transportation Inc. in Hendricks County (526 new jobs); 

— Guidesoft Inc., doing business as Knowledge Services, in Marion County (400 new jobs); 

Kohl’s Department Stores Inc. in Hendricks County (300 new jobs); 

Safe Hiring Solutions LLC in Montgomery County (284 new jobs); 

Sallie Mae Bank in Marion County (278 new jobs); 

— And GEP Fuel & Energy Indiana LLC in Carroll County (256 new jobs).

Most of the jobs have yet to be created. The numbers represent each employer’s intention to add jobs over a set period, which can be as long as several years.


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