Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Daniels pleased with state economic development efforts

Bowdeya Tweh - bowdeya.tweh@nwi.com, (219) 933-3316 | Posted: Friday, October 2, 2009

CROWN POINT | Gov. Mitch Daniels gave his stamp of approval to the job performance of the Indiana Economic Development Corp.'s board of directors while battling the effects of difficult business climate during a Thursday meeting.

While acknowledging the poor economy has had an effect on businesses, Daniels said he was pleased with the amount of projects the IEDC has granted and the work board members put into the economic development mission in Asia last month.

After Indiana officials visited China and Japan, Indiana's Secretary of Commerce Mitch Roob said positive leads were generated with six suppliers for manufacturing firm Cummins Inc. in China, and delegates had discussions with seven businesses in each country on locating in Indiana. While in Japan, Roob, who is also the IEDC's chief executive, began to investigate opportunities with Sony and said talks are continuing on some operations potentially being located in Indiana.

Daniels admitted that before he was governor, he thought trade trips were more symbolic than results-oriented. But the payroll income that can be generated from one business locating in the state makes the trip worth it, he said.

"We need to keep doing these and budgeting as much as we can towards them," Daniels said.

The meeting was held at the Purdue Technology Center of Northwest Indiana.

From Jan. 1 through Sept. 30, the IEDC has granted funds to 120 projects, which is one project less than the comparable 2008 period. Total job commitments also fell this year to 14,056 from 14,743 in 2008. Investment commitments so far in 2009 have fallen nearly 64 percent from last year's mark to $1.28 billion.

However, Roob said one positive development is that the average wage for employees in IEDC-funded projects was $21.09 per hour in 2009, which is higher than the average state wage of $18.35 an hour. Projected income created per incentive dollar offered was $5.13 this year, down nearly 13 percent from a year earlier. But the total this year is still better than in 2005 through 2007. Roob said Indiana is continuing to seek a high return on its investments in the form of dollars in Hoosiers' pockets.

"We're happy with the type of people we've recruited," Roob said.

After a brief discussion during the meeting, Roob said the IEDC needed to research how long it takes for jobs to reach the marketplace after investments are made in companies.

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