Indiana’s General Assembly Invests in Economic Development

Indiana’s General Assembly made substantial investments in the state’s economic development programs primarily around two critical strategies: site development and workforce development.

Site development has been an Indiana focus for some time. the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) reached a significant milestone in the Strategic Sites Inventory (SSI) program this spring, identifying over 300 new, nationally competitive greenfield site opportunities across more than half of Indiana’s 92 counties.  The SSI program is accelerating economic development opportunities across the state by identifying and vetting the readiness of new development sites. Since launching the program in 2017, the IEDC has partnered with local communities to vet new sites in 47 counties, achieving a faster volume of local site reviews faster than any other state participating in the SSI program. Through the program, the state initially identified 230,000 acres across 1,798 sites, including 69 potential tech mega sites, to review for potential economic development opportunities. So far, Indiana, in partnership with local communities, has strategically reviewed 938 sites, identifying 328 sites that would be top contenders for nationally competitive projects.

Indiana recently launched the Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI), a bold, transformational initiative that will dedicate $500 million in state appropriations to promote strategic investments that will make Indiana a magnet for talent and economic growth.  Through this initiative, the state will encourage neighboring counties, cities, and towns to partner to create a shared vision for their future, mapping out the programs, initiatives, and projects that are critical for them to retain talent today and attract the workforce of tomorrow.  READI is expected to attract at least $2 billion of local public, private, and philanthropic match funding that will propel investment in Indiana’s quality of place, quality of life, and quality of opportunity.  The Indiana General Assembly continued the funding of READI with an allocation of $500M over the biennium for READI 2.0 and they amended the READI grant fund enabling language such that regional development authorities OR qualified nonprofit organizations may submit an application for grant funding. The enabling statute does confirm that READI funds may only be used for capital projects and infrastructure projects.

The Indiana General Assembly also created a $500M per year deal closing fund for use by Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), with a 10% earmark for projects located in counties with less than 50,000 residents and established a $150M revolving fund for site acquisition to complement IEDC’s deal-closing fund.  Site development is seen as a critical issue for corporate site location projects as rising interest rates and skyrocketing construction costs have slowed much industrial development.

Indiana’s Next Level Jobs Workforce Ready Grant program also received $34 M in the state budget.  The Next Level Jobs Workforce Ready Grant is a grant program that covers the tuition and fees of qualifying certificate programs across Indiana for Indiana residents looking to work in one of 150 targeted industries that include Advanced Manufacturing, Building & Construction, Health & Life Sciences, IT & Business Services, and Transportation & Logistics.  Indiana’s workforce development grant programs in total received well over $60 M in state funding in the new budget as workforce development continues to be a focus for states seeking corporate site location projects.

Indiana remains an economic powerhouse that punches far above its weight driven in large part by smart public policy decisions that keep the states’ cost of doing business at a competitive rate, developing job-ready sites, and having a highly-skilled, prepared workforce.