Inclusive Incentives Aim to Create Economic Opportunity for All

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In late July, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and the Indy Chamber unveiled a roadmap that repositions how Indianapolis uses economic development incentive programs to encourage the types of inclusive outcomes sought for our community.  This important initiative helps strengthen the position for Indianapolis as a place to be for companies and citizens alike.

Quality of Talent and Place Drive Company Location Strategies

For over 30 years in my role as an economic development and site selection consultant, I have had the privilege of helping domestic and international businesses find communities throughout North America where the organization and its employees can grow and thrive long term.  Repeatedly, talent quickly surfaces as the number one decision making driver in the site selection process.  The communities that invest in their people across the board and the place they live reap the benefits of companies wanting to be a part of their overall infrastructure.

While Indianapolis can boast that it ranks among the top 10 cities for young professionals and entrepreneurs, it also needs to see marked improvement.  The city is currently the sixth most economically segregated region in the U.S. and has seen an 80% increase in people living in poverty over the last decade.  Our leaders have taken note and are taking action to drive job opportunities for all Indianapolis residents.

New Network a Cornerstone of Advancement for All

A major component of this strategy includes widening the ecosystem of community-focused programs and entities in order to build new bridges of partnership and co-creation.  The establishment of a Community Impact Network will offer companies receiving incentives a menu of opportunities to support the neighborhoods and workforce of Indianapolis through initiatives in workforce development, diversity hiring, transit, childcare access, underserved communities and more.

As this network establishes roots, it also strengthens the story we have to tell about our great city.  When a community like Indianapolis unequivocally says, “we’re going to prioritize investments in our community and in our residents,” it becomes a draw for those looking to plant roots here.

According to the 2017 Cone Communications Millennial Employee Engagement Study, 76% of Millennials consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work.  As companies engage in the network and build a better life for everyone, we will only continue to draw new talent into Indianapolis and the Hoosier state.  This strategy identifies racial disparities, access to and quality of education, and more amongst its focus areas in policy recommendations.  Both current and future residents alike can support the goals of this initiative.

Outlining the Outcomes for Hoosier Employees and Employers

This comprehensive strategy puts workers and their families in the forefront.  A notable policy recommendation sets forth requirements for incentivized jobs to include a wage floor of $18/hour and employer-sponsored healthcare.  When we help a family thrive as a unit, we help all Hoosiers flourish collectively.  The strategy also prioritizes local hiring and training, which are vitally important factors in an ever-changing economy.

These outcomes for our neighbors and friends are designed to work in conjunction with outcomes for current and future Hoosier businesses.  Plans for business growth will increase the number of available jobs in opportunity industries.  Plans for physical investment will increase the likelihood of private market investment.  Each outcome adds a crucial element in the overall establishment of an ecosystem where there is less division and more access for all to succeed.

Conclusion

Any time a community embraces a strategy such as this one, it is very important to be nimble enough to adjust to market conditions.  Initiatives are living and breathing things as they are implemented over a period of time, and governmental entities need to retain flexibility.  As an example, we are currently experiencing the second longest economic expansion in our country’s history, but a slowdown is coming in the not-too-distant future.  When a recession ultimately happens, there will be downward pressure on wages and higher unemployment rates.  Indianapolis will need to evaluate market conditions and how they affect wage levels on an annual basis.

In conclusion, this strategy demonstrates to businesses considering an expansion, relocation or new facility in Indianapolis our core values of inclusion and opportunity for all.  I hope that this approach will result in all our citizens participating in the progress and growth of our community.

Larry Gigerich serves as Executive Managing Director of Ginovus and a member of the Site Selectors Guild.

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