State economic development leader hopes for growth regionally with mini grants
By Andrews Steele for the Times of Northwest Indiana | Indiana Economic Digest
Indiana Secretary of Commerce Jim Schellinger hopes a new grant will help the state's regions market themselves better to businesses looking for a home.
The Indiana Economic Development Corp.'s Regional Domestic Business Development Grant will provide up to $100,000 to help officials from the state's nine designated regions make trips to promote their areas and to host site selectors seeking locations for businesses.
The new initiative, still under development, is meant to allow each part of the state to recruit businesses based on its own strengths, as opposed to traditional efforts to market the state as a whole.
"I believe it's going to be highly successful," Schellinger said on a recent trip to Northwest Indiana, noting the Region's location "a stone's through from the third largest economy in the nation."
Grant applicants will be required to fund 20 percent of any trip or hosting of visitors.
Schellinger said he hopes the program will help build on the 320 commitments the state received in 2018 from businesses to locate or expand in Indiana. The commitments will bring an estimated $7.38 billion in investment and more than 31,000 jobs, according to the IEDC.
Twenty-two of the commitments are to Northwest Indiana, according to the IEDC, with nearly $1.8 billion in promised investment and just over 2,100 jobs.
Schellinger cited the Digital Crossroads of America data center plans in Hammond, and U.S. Steel's commitment to invest in Gary Works as the Region's main gains last year.
Here and across the state, Schellinger said population growth will be key to continued economic growth, and he said that will require migration into it.
"We are not going to grow this state in terms of our businesses or our workforce inside out. It's got to be outside in," Schellinger said.
New online tool
The IEDC has also recently launched a redesigned web-based site locator tool known as ZoomProspector Enterprise. The site offers free access to property locations and other information.
Users "can map out specific business clusters, view data infographics, compare multiple communities and easily generate their own customized thematic data maps for analysis, sharing or export," according to the IEDC.
Visitors to the IEDC website at www.iedc.in.gov can access the tool by clicking on "Site Locator" at the top of the page.