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.

Hasler Hitting an Economic Development Home Run

An Indiana Chamber member who listened in on Friday’s Policy Conference Call termed the message from IEDC chief Dan Hasler as one filled with "infectious enthusiasm." As the one fortunate to moderate that call, I wholeheartedly agree.

Hasler did an outstanding job describing the work of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation and his own approach to business attraction and retention. Among his comments:

  • While the facts are all on Indiana’s side, "selling" is still a personal, emotional event
  • "You can’t make a bad move good with incentives"
  • The IEDC goal for 2012 is 250 deals, up from 219 a year ago. The early results are ahead of pace
  • "Our best leads still come from peer-to-peer referrals. You (Indiana business leaders) are the most important lead source we have"
  • Areas of improvement needed: more shovel ready sites (currently average one per county; need three or four per county) and better advertising or selling of shovel ready sites and existing facilities

Hasler reminds that the three roles of IEDC are to attract new businesses, support existing small and medium businesses, and help fund young enterprises.

Although noting he never expected to have a .gov e-mail address during his business career, Hasler admits he’s "having a ball" in his current role. Based on the hour we were able to spend with him via the phone, I say that’s a very, very good thing for Indiana.

The next call, for Chamber members, is Friday, June 1 with Todd Young, Indiana’s ninth district congressman. Register today.

Awards Time; Companies to Watch Nominations Open

Indiana has a strong array of annual business recognition programs. At the Indiana Chamber and BizVoice, we’re pleased to be deeply involved in two of the best.

The 2012 Best Places to Work in Indiana companies will be recognized at the May 3 awards dinner. The list of 70 companies, honored for their strong workplace cultures, was released this week by the Chamber. The final rankings will be announced at the May celebration.

Starting its 2012 journey is the fifth annual Indiana Companies to Watch program. This initiative is led by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation through its Small Business Development Centers. The honorees are high-performing, second-stage, Indiana-based companies that are making a difference. 

Nominations are open through March 30, with applications accepted until April 16. This awards celebration will take place in late August. Full details are available online, with the 2011 BizVoice coverage providing a look at last year’s winners. 

More on Illinois: Tax Until You Drop, And They Probably Will

We told you here two days ago that Illinois lawmakers were seriously considering tax increases of 75% on individual income and 49% on corporations. Well, good news for the residents of the land that might more closely resemble its nickname (Prairie State) in the coming years as those increases were lowered to 67% and 30%, respectively.

Governor Pat Quinn is expected to sign the legislation to help stem an ever-growing budget deficit. The state anticipates it will raise an additional $6.5 billion in revenue in 2011. But do those projections take into account the companies and the families that will be fleeing for points near (Indiana) and far?

We hinted earlier that Indiana would need to be ready to roll out the welcome mat for those defectors. A brief conversation with someone from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (and public comments from Mitch Roob) confirmed that an aggressive marketing plan is in the works along with additional personnel in Northwest Indiana and focused efforts in Terre Haute, Evansville, etc.

The Tax Foundation reports the moves (if part of the 2011 evaluation) would drop the Illinois tax climate from No. 23 to No. 36. Indiana, by the way, is a solid No. 10.

Here’s the Tax Foundation brief on the impacts of the spend, spend, tax and spend some more plan in Illinois.

Keep it Free; Create the Jobs

Economic growth and job creation are the focus of a national discussion taking place in Indianapolis this morning — and the Indiana Chamber will be there.

The U.S. Chamber’s National Chamber Foundation (with assistance from the Indiana Chamber and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation) is hosting the 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. event. Several members of the national chamber team, including former Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, will offer comments along with Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels.

A roundtable discussion will take place, with Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar and several Chamber board members among the participants. Daniels will focus his remarks on Creating Jobs Through Free Enterprise and an Indiana-specific study will also be unveiled.

We’ll provide some Twitter updates during the discussion and come back with another blog later in the day.

Solving the Procurement Puzzle

It’s such a big, lumbering word for what should be a straightforward process. Procurement is the 11-letter moniker for what I like to call bringing buyers and sellers together. Or simply doing business. And now a new ePortal — Indiana Supplier INsight — is in place to make the job easier for Hoosier companies.

Launched by Conexus Indiana, the powerful but easy-to-use (and free) system encourages Indiana companies to do business with other firms within the state. Businesses create searchable online profiles, while others provide detailed listings of supplier needs. The technology helps do the rest. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

"Manufacturers look at suppliers all over the country, often unaware of qualified firms right here in their own backyard," says Steve Dwyer, president and CEO of Conexus Indiana. "This initiative shines a light on these companies and helps them forge new relationships."

Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar adds, "We welcome the opportunity to provide our members with this ability to connect with fellow Hoosier businesses, benefiting both organizations and the Indiana economy. The need for such a service was evident in the Chamber’s recent work studying Indiana mid-market companies and their potential for additional growth."

Companies ready to take advantage of this system can connect online or e-mail Lisa Laughner ([email protected]), program director at Conexus Indiana. The Indiana Chamber, Indiana Economic Development Corporation, Secretary of State’s office and Indiana Department of Administration are supporting the initiative.

Those interesting in sponsorships on the Indiana Supplier INsight portal — reaching thousands of Indiana companies and their key personnel — should contact the Chamber’s Jim Wagner ([email protected]).   

Chamber Working for You: Big Wins Over 10 Years

OK, we realize it’s February and the end of December/beginning of January were the times for the "top 10" lists for the past year or decade. But in looking at Indiana Chamber advocacy efforts, we couldn’t resist putting together some of the top issues in which we’ve been fighting the good fight for the business community. We didn’t rank them; that would be a really tough job.

I, and quite a few others on the Chamber team, have been here throughout (not the 1922 official start of the organization) — dating back to the 2002 tax restructuring and including key victories in economic development, education, tax, local government and more. The one-pager can be found here; but first a few observations.

  • 2005 was simply a big year. Daylight Savings Time became a reality after only more than a few decades of trying, a series of important education policies were enacted and a variety of tax credits were expanded
  • The most underrated item on the list, in my view, has a 2005 connection as well. The creation of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation took place in 2003 with a scheduled implementation in July 2005. Gov. Mitch Daniels, however, made the transition priority one upon taking office that January and the IEDC was off and running on a record-setting period of private sector investment and job creation
  • A 2008 entry, removal of township assessors, MUST be complemented by additional local government reform measures. Whether it’s this year, in 2011 or through other measures, it’s time has more than come for taxpayers, local residents and all involved

Advocacy, of course, is just one way the Chamber works for its nearly 5,000 members and 800,000 employees of those Hoosier companies. But it’s a big one, making a difference each and every day.

Economic Rankings on the Way Up

There’s no questioning that the creation of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) has provided a major lift to Indiana’s business attraction and expansion efforts. Now the public-private organization is able to utilize some extra talking points with others taking notice of the state’s improved business climate and performance.

News of the CNBC survey (Indiana making the largest improvement nationwide from 26th to 13th overall with top 10 rankings in business friendliness, transportation and cost of doing business) traveled fast last week. Low business costs (especially compared to Midwest neighbors) were also cited in Forbes and Milken Institute reports. The IEDC has more in its Why Indiana section.
The state, and all those who made it possible, deserves credit for the improved performance. Fortunately, we know no one is going to be satisfied until we’re topping the various polls, lists and surveys. Indiana improved in eight of 10 categories in the CNBC tally, but moving from 48th to 37th in economy (I’d place us a little higher than that seeing the struggles elsewhere) certainly leaves room for more.
Other states, of course, aren’t standing still. We’ve got to continue to meet the education and workforce challenges, among others, to keep up and maintain the progress. That’s the impetus behind the Chamber’s Letters to Our Leaders and continuing to work with all involved for the benefit of our state’s employers and their employees.