The new president of the Indiana Economic Development Corp. says while some are making his appointment about politics, "it's all about jobs and that will be my focus." Wednesday, Indianapolis-based CSO Architects Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jim Schellinger, a former Democratic candidate for Governor, was selected by Republican Governor Mike Pence to help lead the state's economic development efforts. In a Studio(i) interview, Schellinger says he is especially interested in the potential of the Regional Cities Initiative.
"I think it's one of the most important things we've done, because it's about working to retain talent in our state with a focus on creating world class places."
The 55 year-old Schellinger takes the IEDC role as the organization is on pace for a record year in terms of jobs, deals and investment, according to mid-year statistics. "Being an owner of a small business, I know what it's like to grow a business and to make payroll every month, and I just think this is about jobs," said Schellinger.
Schellinger succeeds Eric Doden, who left IEDC earlier this year to become CEO of Greater Fort Wayne Inc. He will work closely with Indiana Secretary of Commerce Victor Smith on economic development deals, with Schellinger focusing on Indiana's 92 counties, Smith the other 49 states and globally.
In a news release, Pence called Schellinger, "the right man at the right time to lead the organization.'
The sixth of eight children, Schellinger grew up in South Bend and earned an architectural degree from the University of Notre Dame. He joined Indianapolis-based CSO in 1987, and was elevated to CEO of the firm at the age of 36. CSO has been involved in many of the state's highest-profile projects, including the new Indianapolis International Airport, JW Marriott and Circle Centre Mall.
Schellinger's first foray into politics was a 2008 run for Governor. He was edged out by fellow Democrat Jill Long Thompson in the primary.
He will take a leave of absence from CSO to take the IEDC job.