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Middle-market firms pack punch, study shows

June 23, 2008
Mid-sized companies are a lot like middle children in a family, a new Indiana Chamber of Commerce study has found. They tend to achieve a lot, but don't get the attention they deserve.

The businesses amount to only 3 percent of all businesses in the state, yet generate 30 percent of the jobs and more than 40 percent of the sales, the study found. Indiana has 3,789 companies fitting the mid-size description of $5 million to $100 million in annual sales.

The Chamber believes it can boost their prospects by spotlighting the enormous role they quietly play in the state's economy.

"We wanted to determine what we could do to focus light on these companies," said Chamber Senior Vice President Mark Lawrance.

The study originated after Gov. Mitch Daniels, a Republican, flagged the middle market as a special area of emphasis in his 2006 Accelerating Growth economic development plan.

Several things can be done to help the companies, the report found.

A program should be put together to help the companies find and use goods and services from Hoosier peers, it said.

Mid-market firms also aren't fully taking advantage of some of the state programs that could help them grow. As a result, the report calls for helping them better use tax credits and work force training grants.

Furthermore, the report suggested using employee stock ownership plans, or ESOPs, to prevent their being easily picked off by companies outside the state.

"It may not be right for every company," Lawrance said. "But for some companies, it makes sense to look at as an option."

The Chamber plans to continue researching firms in Indiana's mid-market sector, Lawrance said, and plans to establish "mentoring networks" to assist them.

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