Hoosiers had great news to celebrate last week. Subaru and its Japanese parent company, Fuji Heavy Industries, selected Indiana to create more than 1,200 new Hoosier jobs at its Lafayette assembly plant, where the company is planning a significant $140.2 million investment to expand production by 100,000 cars annually.
For Subaru and companies like it everywhere, choosing Indiana is the easy part of growth. Other issues surrounding a business expansion or relocation, though, aren’t quite as simple. Red tape, hiring plans and construction can dictate the process. For most companies, including Subaru, timing is key.
As the Journal Gazette highlighted in an editorial on Sept. 30 (The Unreal Deal), Governor Pence and local officials joined the Japan-based auto maker to announce its growth quickly after the company made its decision. Speed was essential for Subaru because it needed to inform its suppliers that production was ramping up and that larger orders would be headed their way soon. When one auto manufacturer adds jobs, so do the hundreds of auto suppliers employing thousands more Hoosiers. For the strength of its supply chain, Subaru needed to share this news quickly.
At Indiana Economic Development Corp., Indiana’s lead job hunting agency, our mission is to help companies find a competitive advantage in the Hoosier State. That’s why we’re working to build the nation’s best business climate. That’s why we’re helping regions across our state with revitalization and talent attraction through the Indiana Regional Cities Initiative. And it’s also why the IEDC was created as a flexible, fast-moving agency designed to act at the speed of business, understanding that delay could mean missing out on new jobs for Hoosiers. When a company like Subaru needs to move quickly, we’re there.
The IEDC’s Board of Directors will formally vote on the agency’s offer to incentivize Subaru’s job creation plans at its December meeting, but its members have been supportive of this project since the onset. As home to the company’s only assembly facility outside Japan, the relationship between Indiana and Subaru has deep roots and is nurtured consistently. Our board members were kept up-to-date on these latest conversations and were briefed on Subaru’s expansion plans during an executive session in September while negotiations were being finalized.
As you might guess, plans to create 1,200 new Hoosier jobs at a company that has been a tremendous partner to the Lafayette community and to the state of Indiana for decades received overwhelming support during those discussions. But we, along with our board members, agreed: A conditional vote in the public session, despite efforts to keep the company’s name confidential, would disclose too many details and ultimately reveal Subaru’s plans. Plans that are not ours to share. And that promise – to protect a company’s competitive advantage by keeping negotiations confidential – is not one we were willing to break.
So this final vote, a vote that Subaru and our leadership are confident will receive a resounding and boisterous ‘yes’ from our Board, had to wait. But Subaru’s business and booming expansion could not. The company’s incentives are performance-based, meaning the auto maker must create new jobs before any tax credits can be claimed. So if the risk in announcing this company’s plan to grow here in Indiana is 1,200 new jobs for hardworking Hoosiers, that’s a risk we were willing to take.
As a state, we are committed to aggressively pursuing every opportunity that represents a promise of new jobs. In order to help companies thrive, we must be flexible. We must meet the demands of global businesses working to facilitate timelines necessitated by executives, employees, customers and suppliers. Because of our ability to respond accordingly, Indiana’s economic successes continue to climb with unemployment down to a seven-year low and more Hoosiers employed now than at any time in our state’s 200-year history.
Indiana companies like Subaru that provide quality jobs for Hoosiers are the greatest asset of this state. For that, we say thank you. But more than that, we will make a promise. A promise to continue to act quickly and do everything in our power to support you, your employees and the jobs you will undoubtedly create for future generations of Hoosiers because you, our Indiana businesses, make Indiana a state that works.