The recent overseas trips by Gov. Eric Holcomb and Commerce Secretary Jim Schellinger [Holcomb’s global quest for jobs, March 2], as well as the many policy decisions made by the Trump administration raise the question of how best to attract and support prospective investors and businesses to our country, and specifically to our great state of Indiana.
I propose that we modify the mission of the [Indiana Economic Development Corp.] and make it a repository of information about Indiana’s many attributes, an organization tasked with connecting businesses with resources and cultivating important relationships that extend into both the public and private realm. But we take it out of the business of deciding who will get favorable financial treatment. We take it out of the business of deciding or predicting which companies and industries in Indiana will be the winners and losers. And we take it out of the business of the investment field, which is fraught with high fees, uncertain returns, structural complexity and opacity as proposed by the arrangement with 50 South Capital Advisors LLC.
I suggest we take the IEDC funds that were earmarked for roads and bridges and apply them as intended. We use those precious funds to upgrade and maintain Indiana’s infrastructure—our roads, bridges, ports and lock systems, polluted waterways, underfunded and quickly depleting water infrastructure, air traffic control system, and superfund sites. With this realignment of mission on the part of IEDC, not only do ALL Indiana businesses benefit, but so do its citizens in the form of quality of living enhancements. The high rate of return that IEDC currently seeks on its investments will be in the form of tax revenue gleaned from the economic activity generated by businesses who will fail or prosper on the merits of their business ideas and models.
There already exists in Indiana angel investors and financial institutions and entities willing to loan money to businesses. Indiana taxpayers should not be in the business of subsidizing specific industries or companies. Any government agency that is partly or wholly funded by the taxpayer, like IEDC, should not be picking favorites, but creating a fair playing field open to all businesses, small and large, mature or in the nascent stages of development. That is free market and capitalism at its best.