Indiana Named Best State in the Midwest for Business

?????????????????????????????????????????A new Chief Executive magazine survey labels Indiana as the best state for business in the Midwest — and the sixth best in the U.S. A release from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) has more:

The magazine’s “Best & Worst States For Business” ranking is based on surveys of more than 500 CEOs. According to Chief Executive, the results of the 11th annual survey show that CEOs favor states with progressive business development programs, low taxes and a quality living environment.

“We’ve worked hard to create a low-cost, pro-growth economic environment here in Indiana,” said Governor Mike Pence. “This ranking confirms what we already know as Hoosiers. With an honestly balanced budget, robust infrastructure and a top-notch workforce, Indiana is a state that works for business.”

As highlighted by Chief Executive, Indiana became the first Midwestern right-to-work state in 2012, a law that was upheld by the Indiana Supreme Court last year. Since its passing, more than 100 companies have indicated to the IEDC that its passage was a factor in their decisions to locate or expand operations in Indiana. Collectively, these projects account for approximately 10,000 projected new jobs and more than $2.3 billion capital investment in the state.

Indiana’s 6th place ranking makes it the only Midwestern state in the publication’s top 10. Among neighboring states, Kentucky ranked 28th, Ohio ranked 22nd, Michigan ranked 43rd and Illinois ranked 49th.

This Chief Executive magazine ranking is the latest in a series of national accolades for Indiana’s business climate. Last year, Indiana was ranked best in the Midwest and 7th overall in Area Development magazine’s “Top States for Doing Business” as well as best in the Midwest and 7th in the nation in the Pollina Corporate “Top 10 Pro-Business States for 2014” study.

Chief Executive magazine is a bi-monthly publication for top management executives published by the Chief Executive Group LLC. Founded in 1977, the Chief Executive Group LLC is headquartered in Greenwich, Connecticut. The full survey results are available online.

Indiana Vision 2025 Report Card

Chamber President Kevin Brinegar recently spoke with Inside INdiana Business about our Indiana Vision 2025 Report Card, which was unveiled this week. See the video. Additionally, here is a link to the report card itself, and below is a summary of the findings:

A snapshot of where Indiana ranks nationally in 60 key economic measurements was released today by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. The report includes revealing outcomes both for areas in which Indiana is doing well – regulatory freedom and small business survival, for example – and where improvement needs to take place – such as post-secondary education attainment and the state’s poverty rate.

This report is the next step in Indiana Vision 2025, a comprehensive, multi-year initiative to provide leadership and a long-range economic development action plan for Indiana. It marks the start of the Indiana Chamber examining key metrics at two-year intervals through 2025, covering progress in four critical areas: Outstanding Talent, Attractive Business Climate, Superior Infrastructure and a Dynamic and Creative Culture.

The overriding message, says Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar, is that the state cannot afford to rest on recent laurels like the education reforms of 2011 and instituting a right-to-work law in 2012. "We can’t be fatigued by the effort or take a break on improving Indiana. Other states and countries are moving at a fast pace and we need to remain competitive in order to have a prosperous environment for our citizens."

And in areas where Indiana is currently lagging, change will not happen overnight, Brinegar cautions. "It will take a robust effort by like-minded groups to affect both policy and societal changes that impact these metrics. Significant advances by Indiana also can be undone through inattention, poor policy choices or the dramatic actions of other states and nations."

While passing good public policies, where appropriate, are one element of this larger picture, Brinegar asserts the key is implementation. “There has been no better example of that than education reforms. Too much time, money and effort has been spent the last two years on efforts to reverse 2011 achievements (school choice voucher program, charter school expansion) rather than ensuring these are implemented at the highest level to assist Hoosier students and families.

"Our No. 1 priority has to be investing in the education, knowledge and skills of Hoosiers. Our goal is to achieve prosperity and cultivate a world-class environment full of opportunities," he concludes.

When it comes to the report card’s specific ratings, the most progress has been made in building an Attractive Business Climate. Indiana is at the very top for the regulatory freedom index and in the top five of the small business survival index. (Separately, Indiana’s business climate was recently ranked fifth best nationally and best in the Midwest by Chief Executive magazine).

Indiana has also enjoyed advances regarding its Dynamic and Creative Culture – most notably jumping into the top 10 for business research and development.

Further work, however, is needed in producing Outstanding Talent. More Hoosiers attaining associate’s degrees and higher plus focusing on early education are among the keys. A disturbing placement is Indiana’s poverty rating. Indiana has gone from having the 12th lowest poverty rate in the nation in 2000, to 32nd in 2005 and now 35th in 2011.

"This illustrates the sad reality for some of our citizens and emphasizes why workforce training, sending children to pre-school, completing high school and beyond are so vital. Only when we put greater focus on these activities will we have a significant impact on moving people out of poverty," Brinegar surmises.

Meanwhile, Indiana’s Superior Infrastructure driver has been an advantage for the state, but the dynamic surrounding road funding and energy costs is changing. Case in point: Indiana is trending in the wrong direction for affordable electricity, dropping to 19th in 2011 (was 11th in 2000 and 12th in 2005).

A summary of Indiana’s top and bottom rankings, the biggest gains and drops, plus the goals established for each is available at www.indianachamber.com/2025. The report card, the Indiana Vision 2025 plan and additional information are also available at that site.

Gigerich: Indiana Business Climate is Good News, Bad News Scenario

Larry Gigerich of site selector Ginovus penned an informative column for Inside INdiana Business about Indiana's business climate. While we have come a long way and are currently envied by many states, there is still work to be done. He writes:

A few weeks ago, the Kauffman Foundation and Thumbtack.com released an annual ranking of states for their friendliness to small businesses. Indiana ranked 15th for 2013. The study analyzed several factors including items related to tax climate, work force development and regulatory issues. Eight-thousand small businesses were contacted for feedback regarding the study's criteria. Here is how Indiana ranked in each category.

1. Overall Friendliness: B+
2. Ease of Starting a Business: B+
3. Ease of Hiring: F
4. Regulations: C
5. Health and Safety: D
6. Employment, Labor and Hiring: C-
7. Tax Code: D
8. Licensing: A-
9. Environmental: D
10. Zoning: B-
11. Training and Networking Programs: C-

The grades given to Indiana are not surprising. Work force development and job training have been a focus of Governor Mike Pence and the legislature since the beginning of the year. Indiana's educational achievement, continuing learning for adults in the work force and availability of certification/credential programs have not been where they need to be. While progress has been made, there is still much to be done by government, educational providers, not-for-profits and the private sectors.

Indiana has been recognized as a relatively easy place to start and grow a business. This report points to that in terms of licensing, zoning and other factors affecting the launch of a new business.

The tax code ranking is a bit surprising, but the survey asked small businesses if they were paying too much in taxes for their locations. The elimination of the state inheritance tax, which impacts small and family-owned businesses, could help improve this ranking.

Indiana continues to struggle with rankings where health and environmental issues are considered. In particular, the state's obesity and smoking rates are unacceptably high. These items impact healthcare costs, number of missed days of work and quality of life. In terms of the environment, Indiana's long-term large manufacturing presence has impacted water, air and soil quality. While important steps have been taken in the areas, there is much left to be done.

The top five states for small businesses are (in order): Utah, Alabama, New Hampshire, Idaho and Texas. The bottom five are (in order): Illinois, California, Hawaii, Maine and Rhode Island.

In summary, Indiana's ranking relative to the rest of the country is good. Policymakers in the state should focus on ways to improve our weaknesses in order to move Indiana into the top 10. Due to the fact that Indiana has never been a location for large headquarters for companies, small businesses are and will continue to be the lifeblood of the state's economic growth.

IEDC: National Media Lauding Indiana’s Business Climate

In a recent web article from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), it seems many national news media and sources are looking at Indiana as a model for how to take care of business, so to speak:

National news broadcaster CNBC listed the Hoosier state as the “Most Improved State for Business” in its 2008 survey of states. Indiana ranked the best in the Midwest and third in the nation for Business Friendliness in the survey, the best in history for the state and far better than the rest of the industrial Midwest.

Forbes magazine also provided Indiana acclaim by rating the state’s business tax climate as the best in the Midwest and sixth lowest cost of doing business nationally in 2008.

Indiana’s low cost of doing business and tax-friendly environment scored accolades from a Chief Executive magazine survey of the nation’s top CEOs. The magazine’s fourth annual “Best & Worst States” survey polled 605 top executives in early 2008 who listed Indiana as the best place in the Midwest for business, scoring an eighth place national finish and edging out neighboring states by more than 15 places on the survey.

To view all of the rankings, read the piece on IEDC’s web site (PDF).