If Indiana hopes to effectively compete for mega-economic development projects in the months and years to come, the Legislature must quickly pass the new strategies proposed by Gov. Eric Holcomb and the Indiana Economic Development Corp.
We believe the governor and his relatively new secretary of commerce, Brad Chambers, have the right vision to keep Indiana in a strong position. The only question is whether the state should have moved in this direction sooner.
That’s not to say the Holcomb administration hasn’t been doing a good job on economic development in general. It has.
In 2021, the state set records by creating 31,710 jobs and attracting business investments valued at $8.8 billion.
But the competitive landscape is shifting rapidly, especially when it comes to megadeals worth $1 billion or more, and the Legislature needs to act swiftly to keep Indiana attractive for new business investment.
Incentives are particularly important as Indiana focuses more on attracting higher-paying jobs from industries with strong growth opportunities: electric vehicles and batteries, green energy and computer chips.
As IBJ’s Mickey Shuey reports on page 3A, part of the struggle is that some states are offering larger and larger incentive packages and are able to assemble them quickly. Ohio alone offered more than $2 billion in incentives to persuade Intel to bring its $20 billion plant and 3,000 expected jobs to that state.
Holcomb’s plan, much of it included in Senate Bill 361, would help make the IEDC more nimble and give it greater flexibility.
The measure would remove individiual incentive caps and let the IEDC award up to $600 million annually, double what it now typically offers in incentives.
The legislation also would create “innovation districts” that would be ready for quick development. As IBJ’s Emily Ketterer reports, the districts would be similar to tax-increment-financing districts but would give the IEDC more power to coordinate how the money the districts generate gets used for economic development.
Even with its more limited incentive toolbox, Indiana has scored some big wins. Just last year, it landed an $800 million expansion of the Toyota plant in Princeton.
Now, it just needs the tools to put itself in a better position in the future, and the Legislature needs to provide them. Pronto.•
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