Economic Development Again on Record Pace

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Economic development activity in Indiana is on pace for a record year in 2015, with deals, jobs and investment numbers all tracking at peak levels, according to the state's top business development executive. "It's going to be a really strong year for the Indiana Economic Development Corp.," said Secretary of Commerce Victor Smith, during an interview on Inside INdiana Business Television.

"The capital amount we're sitting at just halfway through this year almost equals all of last year combined," said Smith. In 2014, the IEDC says projects produced a record $4 billion in investment. Through mid-July this year, capital investment totaled $3.72 billion, according to IEDC statistics.

"Indiana continues to gain national recognition for the strength of our economy, consistently outpacing the region. We are just shy of reaching the state's all-time private sector employment record, which was set more than 15 years ago," says Governor Mike Pence. "The work being done today by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation will ensure that that progress continues into the future as it consistently secures jobs across the state with wages well above both the current state average and the national average, ensuring quality employment for our residents in all corners of the state."

Last week, state officials had several opportunities to tout economic activity and the Hoosier business climate. Haier America christened its new engineering center in Evansville, which is expected to initially result in 50 jobs with an average annual salary of $100,000.

The unit of China-based consumer electronics and home appliances giant Haier is investing $2.8 million to turn a former Coca-Cola Bottling plant into Class A office and lab space. Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke expects the facility to have an economic impact of more than $10 million annually.

Smith tells me he expects more positive news from Evansville's newest employer. "Evansville is uniquely qualified for this investment," said Smith. "Haier is the largest white goods producer in the world and this is their first and only North American tech center. I think this is the first chapter of many that will be positive for Indiana."

The state's distribution and logistics sector received also received a boost last week with news that plans to add more than 2,000 jobs at facilities in central and southeast Indiana, part of a national hiring push expected to reach 10,000.

The online retailer's plans call for about 1,400 new jobs in Whitestown and Plainfield and about 700 in Jeffersonville. "We're the crossroads of America for a reason," said Smith. "This is really doubling down on what we consider a real value proposition we have in Indiana."

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