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More than 280 companies will invest $4.38 billion in Indiana

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, left, talks to Alcoa employees Dwanye Meadows and his wife Laura, center, in May following a groundbreaking ceremony for a new state-of-the-art, 320,000 square-foot expansion at the company's LaPorte facility. A total of 285 companies pledged to create jobs in the state in 2015.

Indiana is calling 2014 a record-breaking year for economic development.

A total of 285 companies from around the world have promised to invest $4.38 billion in new or expanded Indiana operations, according to the Indiana Economic Development Corp. That's more than any previous year and up from 261 companies in 2013. 

Businesses have pledged to create 25,317 new jobs in the Hoosier State over the next few years. Locally, the growing companies include Superior Truss & Panel Inc. in Gary, Chicago Craft Bottling in Michigan City, and UGN in Valparaiso.

"Looking through the numbers, I see another promising year in Indiana's future," Gov. Mike Pence said. "Following last year, when we implemented the largest state tax cut in history, this year our corporate income tax began its decline. Meanwhile, companies here at home, across the nation and around the world are committing at record levels to locate their new jobs here. Indiana's unemployment is dropping, showing some of the largest declines in the nation even while our labor force is growing. It's a great time to be a business in Indiana and an even better time to be a Hoosier."

On average, the promised jobs pay $21.75, more than the current hourly wage of $20.17, according to the IEDC, formerly the state's Department of Commerce. The state has however awarded tax breaks to companies that pay as little as $11 an hour, such as at the new Lear plant in Portage.

Pence announced the year-in-review numbers at the Indianapolis statehouse Thursday with executives from 16 companies that plan to create 2,153 jobs over the next few years, none in Northwest Indiana.

Indiana House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, said the state is ignoring job cuts and household income that has fallen by 12 percent statewide over the last decade. U.S. Census Bureau data shows household income dropped to $46,974 in 2013, down from $53,482 in 2002. The 16th most populous state ranks 39th in per capita income, and has the 10th most minimum wage workers.

"By now, most people are deservedly skeptical about these Hollywood productions designed to trumpet Indiana's alleged economic successes," Pelath said. "All this sound and blather is at the service of jobs that 'might' be created over the next few years. By the time those years pass, and few of these jobs become reality, the administration will have moved on to other grand announcements about more jobs that 'might' be created even more years down the road."

Indiana's unemployment rate has fallen over the last year to 5.7 percent in October, down from 7.1 percent in October 2013. The manufacturing-dependent state however has the fourth highest unemployment rate out of the 12 U.S. Census-designated Midwestern states.

In the Midwest, only Missouri, Illinois and Michigan have higher jobless rates than Indiana.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

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Jeanette is a journalist with The Times Media Co. who has worked as both a reporter and editor. She has a master's degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield.