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Mitch Daniels / Indiana Economic Development Corp. / Entrepreneurship / Government & Economic Development / Economic Development

Daniels and entrepreneurship

November 16, 2009

A century ago, Indiana was one of the more entrepreneurial places in the nation. Automotive pioneers started companies, filed patents and built cars. Eli Lilly got a drug company underway. Diamond Chain helped the Wright brothers take to the air.

Much of that momentum was lost during the Depression, as the automotive industry and other durable goods makers consolidated in headquarters outside the state, and Hoosiers settled for accepting paychecks from elsewhere.

As a result, jobs associated with the newest products and ideas—and the higher salaries that accompany innovation—increasingly went elsewhere. Income growth now has been falling behind the nation for decades.

Gov. Mitch Daniels came into office in 2005 pledging to fix the income problem. Much of his attention has been focused on attracting jobs through factory expansions or new warehouses and call centers.

On the entrepreneurship front, he among other things has channeled a corner of state pension funds into startup funding; he named today as the state’s first Entrepreneurship Day.

Several questions about Daniels’ role in entrepreneurship:

--What has been his influence, or lack thereof, on entrepreneurship? Do you see more entrepreneurs pursuing ideas as a result of his work in office? Have those enterprises been successful?

--To what extent should private enterprise rely on a politician to encourage innovation? So long as government doesn’t get in the way of entrepreneurship, should business be expected to innovate and create value regardless of who is in office?

--Has Daniels emphasized job attraction at the expense of home-grown entrepreneurship? Or has the emphasis on attraction been wise, considering so many Hoosiers have suffered underemployment as a result of factory closings?

--Would Daniels have taken a different approach to economic development had he at one point in his career launched a successful company rather than having worked in the executive offices of Eli Lilly and Co.?

Your thoughts?

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