"You can’t grow technology in Indiana." It’s a mantra that naysayers have been repeating for years, citing the state’s perceived resistance to change and lack of oceans or mountains as reasons it could not build a robust tech work force. The numbers are beginning to tell a different story. In 2015, the Indiana Economic Development Corp. says 20 percent of its deals in a record-setting year were in the tech sector, a 150 percent increase over the previous year. "It’s based on work force," said Indiana Secretary of Commerce Victor Smith in an interview on Inside Indiana Business Television. "Companies are continuing to choose and expand in Indiana for reasons and it starts with the Hoosier work force."
Overall, the IEDC says more than 300 deals in 2015 resulted in commitments for more than 26,000 jobs and more than $4.7 billion in private investment. The surge in tech deals is especially sweet for Indiana because they typically pay much more than the state’s average wage.
The news validates a flurry of activity and building momentum in the tech space, in particular in the Indianapolis region, where IT jobs are growing at three-times the national average, according to tech advocacy group TechPoint.
In August, San Francisco-based cloud computing company Appirio announced plans to locate its corporate headquarters in downtown Indianapolis and add more than 400 jobs. Meantime, Austria-based digital marketing firm Emarsys selected Indy for its North American headquarters with plans to add 170 jobs
State leaders admit much work remains to get tech companies and entrepreneurs to flourish outside of central Indiana.
The state’s Regional Cities Initiative, which recently awarded north central, northeast and southwest Indiana $42 million each for ambitious projects, is viewed as a means to help by building a talent pipeline statewide. "One of the things that can hinder our continued growth is talent," said Smith. "We want to find ways to attract and retain talent."