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INDIANAPOLIS | The state's commerce agency is on track for a record-setting year in enticing businesses to locate or expand in Indiana.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. reported Tuesday it has worked this year with 173 companies that have agreed to hire 17,040 Hoosiers in coming years.

That's more deals closed and more jobs promised through the first seven months of the year than any prior year on record, including 2013 when the IEDC lured 150 companies and 11,715 jobs during the period.

"With the record-setting number of deals we have already secured so far this year in all corners of the state, it is clear that businesses are finding what they need and more in Indiana, creating jobs and placing our Hoosier economy on a notable uptick," said Victor Smith, Indiana secretary of commerce.

Northwest Indiana is set to benefit from some of the biggest IEDC deals inked this year, particularly Alcoa's plans for a $100 million facility expansion in LaPorte to manufacture jet engine parts.

That project is estimated to create 329 new jobs by 2019. The IEDC offered Alcoa $4 million in conditional tax credits -- awarded when Hoosiers are hired -- to seal the deal.

Other IEDC-connected region projects include Green Sense Farms opening an indoor vertical farm in Portage; the Linde Group expanding industrial gas production in Hammond; expanded rubber and plastic-extrusion manufacturing by Jaeger-Unitek Sealing Solutions in LaPorte; more popcorn-making by ConAgra Foods in Rensselaer and a new research and development laboratory for Emerson Power Transmission Corp. in Valparaiso.

In addition, dough processing machine-maker AM Manufacturing is moving its headquarters to Munster from Dolton; Tinley Park, Ill.-based automotive equipment supplier UGN Inc. is expanding in Valparaiso; and Superior Truss and Panel is moving to Gary from Markham.

"Today Indiana's economy is defined by its optimism," said Eric Doden, IEDC president. "From the homegrown-Hoosier tech firm to the global manufacturer, companies are growing, and they are planning to keep it up."

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Statehouse Bureau Chief

Dan is Statehouse Bureau Chief for The Times. Since 2009, he's reported on Indiana government and politics — and how both impact the Region — from the state capital in Indianapolis. He originally is from Orland Park, Ill.