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Indiana launched into 2020 with the unemployment rate in many communities hovering at near record‐level lows of 2 – 3%. A major concern in many communities was the lack of workers to fill current jobs. In response, economic developers shifted from attracting businesses to attracting workers.
It is impossible to calculate how drastic the change has been in four short months. Economists project that unemployment rates will hit double‐digit levels, perhaps approaching rates not seen since the Great Depression. Over 26M American jobs have been lost effectively cancelling all job gains since the Great Recession. Local stakeholders fear that much of the progress they have made in the last few years to grow local business, enhance downtown development, and increase the tax base will be threatened as revenues from various taxing sources will see shortfalls.
In flush times and lean, the practice of economic development is focused on attracting, expanding, and retaining investment in communities. Prior to the coronavirus crisis, economic developers were diversifying their services by working with local businesses to help fill open jobs with qualified workers, collaborating with chambers of commerce and tourism bureaus to promote community assets to attract new residents and workers to their communities, and working to support local entrepreneurs in starting and growing their businesses. The evolution of economic development extended to downtown development because vibrant downtowns are key to attracting and retaining talent.
Fostering single‐family and multi‐family housing stock became a priority for talent attraction. This effort to develop workforce housing led to community‐wide collaborations between economic developers, elected officials, and housing developers, who came together to solve unique housing challenges in communities across the state. Many economic developers have focused on expanding childcare solutions, as well: high quality and affordable childcare contribute to our quality of life and workforce engagement.
The work of economic developers is constantly evolving because they are reacting to the unique needs of their communities. What works in one region or county may not work in another, so our connections across the state allow for sharing best practices and the ability to bring new ideas back to our communities that are tailored to local and regional needs.
As we emerge from the current crisis, communities will be faced with many displaced workers and closed or struggling businesses. Local economic development organizations will be the natural leaders helping our state recover because they know the local businesses, understand their workforce needs, and are experts in attracting and retaining tax base: all critical activities in helping communities claw back from the coronavirus crisis.
At last count at least 21 Indiana‐based economic development organizations have played a role in the creation of local disaster relief loan or grant programs to help local small businesses survive during the stay‐at‐home order. This is another example of their understanding of local business needs and their ability to adjust their priorities to respond to the needs of their communities.
In the last few years, economic developers have become more focused on supporting entrepreneurship, encouraging the creation and growth of home‐grown businesses, exactly the kind of support and expertise that will be needed to revitalize our downtowns post‐coronavirus crisis.
Economic development professionals have developed national networks of business contacts that they work with when companies want to expand or relocate. These networks can help bring suppliers to a community to support existing companies. While supporting our existing businesses will be the first priority, the attraction of new companies to the state will be an area of focus as we move to fully recover lost jobs and tax base.
As we look toward the future of Indiana, we should all find comfort in knowing that economic developers are on the front lines and are ready to evolve again to move their communities out of crisis and into recovery.
Indiana Economic Development Association
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New ag-based strategy offers different approach to growing rural Indiana
First-of-their-kind “Ag Asset” maps will help communities leverage agriculture
INDIANAPOLIS (Oct. 28, 2019) — A new strategy is working to change how rural communities think about economic development by helping them leverage the strongest asset in their backyard – agriculture.
Known as the Rural Economic Development Model, the process involves utilizing an online interactive tool and guidebook to develop an ag-based economic development plan which will expand current agribusinesses and attract complimentary processing companies to the region.
“Oftentimes, we see rural communities targeting an automotive plant or medical device manufacturer—overlooking agriculture completely,” said Bruce Kettler, Indiana State Department of Agriculture Director. “We want to encourage local decision makers to think differently of their economic development strategy. Agriculture is at the core of so many Hoosier communities and, if leveraged properly, has the potential to keep growing or, in some cases, reinvigorate rural Indiana.”
Critical to the strategy’s launch was the development of the Indiana Ag Asset Maps, which can be found on the Rural Indiana Stats website, created and managed by the Purdue Center for Regional Development. These first-of-their-kind heat maps provide information about the agricultural products grown and raised in each county to include fruits, vegetables, grains, and livestock, and a section showcasing the various companies supporting the hardwoods industry in Indiana.
Communities can use this information to build an ag-based economic development strategy or grow value-added processing by creating “agriculture regions.”
“Bringing value-added processing to an area benefits more than just producers, it shores up the local economy and entire agricultural ecosystem,” said Dr. Bo Beaulieu, PCRD Director. “It can be a game-changer and opens the door to new possibilities for rural communities, which continue to struggle with attracting young, talented workers.”
The Rural Economic Development Model was developed in collaboration with the Indiana Corn Marketing Council, Indiana Economic Development Association, Indiana Farm Bureau, Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, Indiana Soybean Alliance, Indiana State Department of Agriculture, and Purdue Center for Regional Development.
Communities interested in agriculture as an important component of their economic development strategy should contact the project partners. Together they will facilitate a conversation with an overview of the Rural Economic Development Model and a review of the regional analysis provided by PCRD. The goal is to help rural communities create fully implementable ag strategies.
“For too long, we have looked at Indiana’s agricultural production as a passive asset: grown here, but sent elsewhere for value-added processing,” said Lee Lewellen, Indiana Economic Development Association President and CEO. “We want economic developers and farmers to come together to see Indiana’s robust ag assets as the raw material for a different kind of manufacturing base in rural communities.”
Click here to view the Indiana ag asset maps.
The Indiana Economic Development Association (IEDA) is the voice and advocate for the economic development profession in Indiana. IEDA defines economic development as the facilitation of investment that leads to long term community prosperity.
The Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) was established as a separate state agency by the Legislature in 2005. Administratively, ISDA reports to Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch, who also serves as Indiana’s Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development. Major responsibilities include advocacy for Indiana agriculture at the local, state and federal level, managing soil conservation programs, promoting economic development and agricultural innovation, serving as a regulatory ombudsman for agricultural businesses, and licensing grain firms throughout the state.
The Purdue Center for Regional Development (PCRD) seeks to pioneer new ideas and strategies that contribute to regional collaboration, innovation and prosperity.
Note: Below is a photo of the Indiana ag asset map for tomatoes.
To Members of the Indiana General Assembly:
Leadership over the years from Indiana’s elected leaders has moved the state to the top of many coveted lists:
These rankings position Indiana to compete favorably for new investment by attracting new companies to the state and encouraging those already here to expand.
It is Indiana’s placement on another list that is jeopardizing much of the progress we have made in the last few years: our continued placement on the list as one of the last five states to fail to implement a meaningful hate crimes bill.
When organizations reach milestones such as a golden anniversary, leadership should not only seize the opportunity to revel in past successes, but also proceed with a renewed focus on the future. In 2017, as the Board of Directors of the Indiana Economic Development Association (IEDA) looked toward the organization’s 50th anniversary, the Directors and contracted professionals chose to use the occasion to focus attention on the next phase of the organization’s story. They pondered how IEDA should continue to serve all its customers – both inside and outside the association – and to reaffirm IEDA’s commitment to the prosperity and vitality of Indiana.
During the first half of 2018, they embarked upon a strategic planning process which focused on how to best serve the IEDA’s mission through direct services to members and a focus on the economic development profession in which it operates. By surveying the environment and listening to customers, five themes for elevating the economic development professional emerged:
STATEHOUSE (Jan. 26, 2018) – Today, Governor Eric J. Holcomb joined Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch to unveil Indiana’s Next Level Veterans initiative. This new statewide program brings together public and private organizations to recruit, employ and connect discharging military personnel to Indiana and retain veterans who are already in the state. A new website, www.in.gov/veterans, launched today and will be the one-stop-shop for veterans across the nation who are looking for jobs, training, housing or information about the Hoosier state.
"Bringing veterans from around the country here to fill high-wage, high-demand jobs is a win-win-win for military service men and women, employers and our state’s economy," Gov. Holcomb said. "Next Level Veterans will encourage partnerships around the state to bring our nation’s skilled and talented veterans back home to our welcoming and vibrant Indiana communities."
More than 200,000 service men and women leave the military each year, and more than half of them face a period of unemployment. Currently, there are about 85,000 unfilled jobs in Indiana. To fill these positions, employers need skilled workers with strong commitment and work ethic. Next Level Veterans focuses on connecting military personnel, who have honed their skills during their service, with these career opportunities.
"Indiana wants veterans from out of state to know they are welcome here and that Indiana is a prosperous place, where employers are eager for their skills and talent," Lt. Gov. Crouch said. "I am inspired by the work our state agencies and partners have done to create a positive future for veterans."
Under Crouch's leadership, Next Level Veterans will provide veteran incentives, support personnel and provide marketing assistance. The Indiana Department of Veterans' Affairs, Indiana National Guard, the Indiana Department of Workforce Development and the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority are partnering with Conexus Indiana, the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership initiative focused on advanced manufacturing and logistics, and the Indiana Economic Development Association to support the program and the veterans who relocate to Indiana.
The Next Level Veterans website at in.gov/veterans, includes information about available jobs in Indiana through Conexus Indiana, education and training opportunities, quality of life and community aspects. It also provides information on a new veterans-based mortgage program, which helps veterans find affordable housing and gets them into their own home. This new incentive is provided by the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority.
The Conexus Indiana INvets program is featured prominently on the Next Level Veterans website. INvets connects discharging veterans around the country with jobs at Indiana manufacturing and logistics companies. This program was initially created in partnership with Allison Transmission, Faurecia, Honda Manufacturing of Indiana, Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana and the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.
INvets staff will regularly visit major military installations in coordination with a multi-channel marketing campaign. These efforts are supported by a web platform that serves to both educate service members and connect them with employers. This platform will grow to include detailed career path information as well as education and training opportunities. Employers throughout Indiana can leverage this platform to connect with service members prior to their separation from service.
“Conexus Indiana launched INvets as an evolution of our work to bolster the advanced manufacturing and logistics sectors by specifically attracting veterans to high-wage, high demand careers,” said Wes Wood, INvets’ Program Director at Conexus Indiana and U.S. Army veteran. “We are thrilled to partner with the state to attract more veterans and expand the pool of employers to other industry sectors, all offering great opportunities for current and future Hoosiers.”
The Indiana Economic Development Association will also assist communities in partnering with the initiative both in advertising their communities and in helping to welcome incoming service members.
“It is vital we are making sure there is a focus on attracting those outside of the state to come here. Through IEDA we are going to attract people not only to Hoosier jobs but to Hoosier communities,” Lee Lewellen, Indiana Economic Development Association President/CEO. “We will help veterans and their families integrate and thrive in all Hoosier communities have to offer.”
Crouch said that by bringing the different agencies and organizations that can help veterans, we are opening ourselves to the chance to have more veterans relocate or stay in Indiana, which will keep Indiana's economy growing.
Visit in.gov/veterans for more information.
Tools for housing focused on renters, homebuyers, employers, developers, government , and the community. Please click here to download.
Attached is an editorial expressing IEDA’s support for increasing funding for the Skills Enhancement Fund (SEF). This letter will be circulated to various media outlets.
Click here for the editorial.
Tax increment finance (TIF) has witnessed widespread adoption and utilization in the past three decades. TIF involves the use of incremental tax revenues that arise from the development of properties within a designated TIF district, and the resulting increased taxable value, to finance projects designed to stimulate economic development activity or enhance quality of life.
TIF, as an economic development tool, was first implemented in California in 1952. Currently, 49 states in the U.S. use TIF.
Local governments use TIF to address a number of issues that include infrastructure development, to stimulate economic activity in under-performing areas within a community, to compete with other jurisdictions, or to develop quality of life assets. In 2015, there were 765 TIF districts and these accounted for nearly 9 percent of the gross assessed value of property in the State of Indiana.
In its role as a ‘platform mechanism’ within a local economy, TIF has relatively high visibility compared to other economic development tools, such as tax abatements, training grants and other incentives. Understandably, with the widespread use of tax increment finance, there is greater awareness among stakeholders about this particular instrument. It is not surprising, then, to find that as the use of tax increment finance has grown, so has the scrutiny of the tool. There is an ongoing push to ensure that transparency and accountability are at the forefront of efforts to monitor and evaluate the impacts, intended and unintended, of the use of TIF.
This study was initiated to contribute to the ongoing need for transparency and accountability of tax increment finance in Indiana.
This study was able to include a broader range of TIF data than have been available to prior analysts and, as such, is able to present a more nuanced analysis of the impact of TIF throughout Indiana. For this study, the effects of the ‘Great Recession’ (2007 – 2009) have been more fully accounted for, thus providing a broader view of changes in TIF activity over time.
Click here for the full report.
Contact: Michael Snyder, MEK Group, 317-805-4870
Lee Lewellen, IEDA CEO, (317) 313-8365
Greg Wathen, IEDA TIF Study Chair/ Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana (812) 423-2020
Dr. Mohammed Khayum, Business Dean, USI (812) 465-1681
IEDA directs “myth-busting study” about Tax Incremental Financing (TIF), University of Southern Indiana plans comprehensive statewide research
New benchmark research expected to provide non-partisan review
INDIANAPOLIS – Multi-million-dollar tax incremental financing: Boon or bane? In economic development practice, professionals and elected officials often possess widely ranging views about tax incremental financing (TIF). Is TIF funding truly a critical and effective tool for accelerated economic development? Or is it an over-rated practice that drains valuable resources from Indiana cities and regions?
“Powerful myths and considerable misinformation about TIF activity in Indiana regularly cloud understanding and perceptions about the value of the TIF tool,” said Lee Lewellen, CEO of the Indiana Economic Development Association (IEDA). “To clear up possible confusion and document best practices, IEDA is funding and directing a comprehensive statewide TIF study that will be fair and non-partisan.”
To secure the non-partisan nature and future validity of the study, IEDA commissioned a national RFP search and subsequently selected the University of Southern Indiana (USI), Center for Applied Research out of a national group of respondents. USI will now research and produce an all-new independent study of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) in Indiana.
Commenting on earlier assessments of Hoosier TIF applications, Greg Wathen, president and CEO of the Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana, noted key differences in the forthcoming USI research: “Though recent studies have looked at how tax increment financing impacts state revenue streams, the IEDA study will review the impact of TIFs on key local revenue streams such as option income taxes where data is readily available at the county level.”
Continuing, Wathen, who also serves as chairperson of the IEDA committee overseeing the IEDA study, added: “The study will also take into consideration the significant changes in property tax revenue attributed to the shifting of local school taxes to the state, along with establishment of property tax caps and the implementation of ‘circuit breakers,’ which were not adequately accounted for in other studies looking at the use of tax increment financing in Indiana.”
“The overall goal and USI focus will be to produce a solid, myth-busting IEDA study that will serve as a valid benchmark and prove useful in the years to come,” said Lewellen.
The Dean of the USI Romain School of Business, Mohammed Khayum, outlined critical background for the forthcoming study: “After three decades of use by cities, towns, and counties in Indiana, tax increment financing has developed a distinctive and complicated place within the state’s economy. This complicated interconnectivity could be described as a dynamic ecosystem.”
Why is this relevant? Khayum, a full professor of economics at USI and director of the IEDA study, further explained: “Stakeholders from a cross-section of economic sectors interact though tax increment financing and their decisions play an important role in transforming existing economic conditions into preferred ones for many geographic areas within Indiana.”
“Many economic development professionals and elected officials fervently believe that TIF transformed their cities and regions into economic powerhouses,” said Lewellen. “Others claim TIF saps needed funding and sinks regions into debt. What’s the truth? Currently available analysis doesn’t fully answer the question.”
The comprehensive study is expected to be completed and released in early 2016. It will examine positive impacts of Hoosier TIF funding and will examine opportunities for improving the tool. Given the widespread use of TIF to accelerate new development and expansion for cities and counties, the study will specifically examine and document strengths and possible weaknesses of the tool. Further, the study will document best practices of TIF implementation and administration.
Lewellen noted that results from the USI research is expected to fill in gaps in previous studies that may not have proven wholly successful. “It’s fair to say that the overall lack of a true benchmark study has unfortunately helped increase confusion about the validity and effectiveness of TIF efforts,” he said.
To alleviate this confusion and help establish best practices, IEDA decided to commission and oversee a major new comprehensive study. Following a national outreach inviting universities and research firms to submit proposals, a 12-person IEDA TIF study steering committee selected the USI Center for Applied Research to conduct the independent research.
“The University of Southern Indiana has been deliberately tasked by IEDA to produce a non-partisan and independent analysis,” said Lewellen. The resulting benchmark report is expected to include recommendations for improving TIF usage and future applications for Indiana cities, towns, and counties.
The study is funded through specific contributions to the IEDA Foundation made by over 3o funders including utility companies, various associations, economic development entities, cities, towns and counties.
The benchmark IEDA report is expected to aid present and future economic development professionals and government officials in best adapting, leveraging, using and improving this public financing and opportunity-creating tool.
The 12-person IEDA steering committee, composed of association executives, economic development professionals, attorneys, finance professionals and elected officials, will provide oversight for the project together with Lewellen. Work on the statewide project has already begun.
ABOUT IEDA – The Indiana Economic Development Association (IEDA) is the statewide association representing local and regional economic development professionals and other economic development stakeholders. The Indiana Economic Development Association defines economic development as the facilitation of investment that leads to the long-term community prosperity. For more information, please visit www.ieda.org.
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