INDIANAPOLIS | Proclaiming that two is better than one, Gov.-elect Mike Pence revealed Thursday he's separating the leadership of the Department of Commerce and the Indiana Economic Development Corp. and will deploy both agencies in an effort to lure more jobs to the state.
"We're going to look to tell Indiana's story in a more effective way, across the country and across the world," Pence said.
The Republican governor-elect, who takes office Monday, named Victor Smith the state's new commerce secretary and appointed Eric Doden CEO of the IEDC.
Smith spent 17 years in sales and leadership positions, including president and CEO, at CDS Engineering, a domestic and international manufacturing company. The Muncie native also has political experience, having worked for U.S. Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., and Republican Vice President Dan Quayle in the 1990s.
He's also the son of Van Smith, who was chairman of and donated more than $7,500 to Pence's campaign for governor. Van Smith also is former board chairman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Pence said that connection did not influence his pick and that Victor Smith is more than qualified in his own right to lead the state's commerce agency.
Doden is a Valparaiso University School of Law graduate and worked for 15 years at investment and economic development firms in the Fort Wayne area. He was unsuccessful in his 2011 Republican campaign for mayor of Fort Wayne. Doden and his family donated $17,500 to Pence's campaign for governor.
Pence said both men will report to him and he plans to closely collaborate in the work of both agencies to fulfill his campaign promise "to make job creation job one."
"There's a lot of opportunities out there and there's a lot of work to go around," Pence said. "For all the progress we've made, a quarter-million Hoosiers are out of work."
The IEDC, created in 2005 by Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, broke its all-time deal-making and job-creation records last year under CEO Dan Hasler, who also serves as Indiana's commerce secretary.
However, state lawmakers have long questioned why the number of jobs promised in IEDC deal announcements rarely correspond with actual jobs created in Indiana communities.
Pence said he supports legislative efforts to require greater transparency by the IEDC.