INDIANAPOLIS | The state's economic development agency put a big exclamation point on its job creation record under Gov. Mitch Daniels by attracting more businesses to Indiana in 2012 than in any prior year.
The Indiana Economic Development Corp. announced Friday that 256 businesses agreed last year to locate or expand in Indiana, breaking the old record of 219 businesses set in 2011. Those companies plan to create 27,600 new jobs, more than any year on record, according to the IEDC.
"A better state economy starts with a positive business climate, and Indiana's is now near the top of every list," Daniels said. "But great credit goes to the job-hunters of the IEDC, and to our pro-growth partners in the General Assembly who helped us build that environment and build America's best economic development agency."
Automotive-related manufacturing was the top sector for 2012 job commitments at 7,180 projected new jobs. Business services was second at 5,606 promised jobs, followed by non-auto manufacturing (5,602), logistics (2,388), food production (2,022), life sciences (1,606) and information technology (1,589).
In Northwest Indiana, ITR America, a Hobart-based distributor of heavy machinery equipment parts, announced plans to invest $6.2 million to build a new 100,000-square foot facility in the NorthWind Crossings Business Park. The company also plans to hire up to 20 new workers by 2014.
Paul Wurth Inc., a steel and iron engineering manufacturer, opened a new Valparaiso facility in May and plans to expand over the next six years, creating up to 40 new jobs. Kouts is home to an expanded home furnishings and commercial fixtures manufacturing center owned by Leggett and Platt, Inc., which consolidated operations from Kentucky.
Daniels, a Republican, established the IEDC in 2005 with the goal of getting Indiana's economic development efforts to "move at the speed of business."
During its eight years of existence, the IEDC has signed deals with 1,474 companies to bring 168,500 projected new jobs and $34.23 billion of investment in Indiana operations.
"From its falling corporate tax rate and recently enacted right-to-work legislation to its overall fiscal stability, these results are proof that companies find Indiana one of the most attractive places to create jobs," IEDC CEO Dan Hasler said.
IEDC critics, including House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, note the agency often announces huge job creation promises but the number of actual jobs created by businesses lured by tax breaks to locate in Indiana rarely matches those promises.
"We have gone far too long in sitting by and letting this particular department make big claims about the numbers of jobs it creates, without any way to determine whether they are telling the truth or simply a story that makes good headlines initially," Pelath said. "The time has come to demand that the IEDC live up to its charge, and stop hiding behind a shroud of secrecy."
IEDC spokeswoman Katelyn Hancock said the agency's tax incentives are performance-based and companies can only claim tax credits after they've created the jobs they promise.