State manufacturers float relocation tax credit idea as tool to lure workers

Some Indiana manufacturers want the state to use tax incentives to lure out-of-state workers to come to Indiana.

The Indiana Manufacturers Association announced its 2018 legislative agenda Thursday morning, including in it a proposal to give people refundable individual income tax credits for relocation, which it said is aimed at increasing the number of working-age adults to join the state’s workforce.

“We need a tool to sell to individuals as an incentivize to come to Indiana,” said IMA president Brian Burton. “We don’t have those tools at this point, other than telling them about our quality of life here and the opportunities that are here.”

The amount of the tax credit that IMA is recommending is yet to be determined, Burton said, but would depend on the political will at the Legislature.

The group also is hoping the Indiana will allow local governments to offer relocation tax incentives to build upon any that the state offers.

At least one Indiana-based manufacturing company CEO seemed warm to the idea.

Joe Raver, president and CEO of Hillenbrand Inc. in Batesville, said he believed Indiana should do “whatever we can to get people to the state.”

“I think the state faces a number of workforce challenges, and one of them is just population,” Raver said. “It’s not really just a skills issue. There aren’t the people to take the jobs.”

A University of Virginia Demographics Research Group study in 2016 found that the population of prime working-age people, ages 25 to 54, is slated to grow by about 15 percent across the country from 2010 to 2040. But, in Indiana, that group is expected to grow by only 0.9 percent.

It was not immediately clear what legislative leaders thought of the tax credit idea and whether it could gain any steam at the Indiana General Assembly.

House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long did not immediately reply to IBJ’s request for comment.

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