Indiana’s Booming Automotive Industry: How it Happened
The State of the Automotive Industry, a report recently released by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) and the Indiana Automotive Council (IAC), highlighted some very impressive facts about the importance of the automotive industry to the Hoosier economy. For instance:
Indiana’s automotive companies contribute more than $15 billion to the state’s gross domestic product each year – second highest in the nation.
More than 100,000 Hoosiers are employed by the industry – 459 percent more than the national average – and the number of automotive jobs available for Hoosier workers has grown by 40 percent since 2009.
Indiana ranks third in the nation for car and truck production.
Since 2010, the IEDC has announced more than $7 billion in transportation equipment manufacturing capital investment.
This growth of the automotive industry serves as a roadmap for other industries considering expansion or relocation in Indiana. The state’s automotive industry can trace its success directly to an intentional convergence of three essential factors: an open and innovative auto industry, world-class educators listening and responding to workforce development needs, and effective public policy building an economy based on pragmatic business realities.
Indiana’s automotive innovation is long-established, dating back to one of the earliest motor car developers, Elwood Haynes, who test drove his “Pioneer” vehicle in 1894 in Kokomo, and commercially produced the motor car in Indiana for more than 20 years. He also developed and produced lightweight, corrosion-resistant metal alloys for automobile parts including stainless steel and stellite, a metal widely used today in spacecraft. Haynes’ sense of exploration and creativity run deep in today’s Hoosier automotive industry through an extensive base of both foreign and domestic suppliers and five original equipment manufacturers (OEM) who assemble successful vehicles in the state: AM General in Mishawaka, General Motors in Fort Wayne, Honda in Greensburg, Subaru in Lafayette and Toyota in Princeton. In addition, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles produces all of its North American transmissions in Kokomo and Tipton, Indiana.
Perhaps one of the best examples of the industry’s innovation is seen in its partnerships with the state’s secondary and post-secondary educators, participating in curricula development and internship programs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) concentrations for K-12 students. Those partnerships ensure that Indiana’s employers will have a workforce prepared with the middle- and advanced skills necessary to execute today’s and tomorrow’s advanced manufacturing and logistics business needs. Three initiatives – Dream It. Do It. Indiana, Hire Tech and Project Lead The Way (PLTW) – are partnerships between industry, educators (both undergraduate- and graduate-level) and state resources. There’s also Governor Pence’s new “You Can. Go Back.” initiative, working to help the 750,000 Hoosier adults with some college credit but no degree finish what they started through special programs and incentives. And Indiana’s world-class post-secondary education opportunities provide companies with access to some of the best-educated engineers available. Consider:
34,000 engineers call Indiana home, including more than 21,000 industrial, mechanical or electrical engineers – 46 percent more than the national average.
More than 4,000 electrical and mechanical engineering technicians live and work in the Hoosier state.
In 2013, Indiana engineering programs, technologies and related fields graduated more than 6,700 students at the certificate through doctorate level.
Automakers are working closely with educators throughout Indiana to prepare students for exciting, rewarding careers in advanced manufacturing at both assembly and components plants.
Indiana public policymakers, too, have been diligent in their efforts to pave the way for both employers and employees to reap the benefits of a Hoosier lifestyle that succeeds at all levels. An affordable and stable business environment is essential to that goal, and state government closed fiscal year 2015 with a structural surplus of $210 million and total reserves greater than $2.1 billion.
There is so much good news in Indiana’s automotive industry, and that bodes well for all of Indiana’s economy and its residents. I encourage you to read The State of the Automotive Industry report and learn more about how industry, educators and policymakers continue to strengthen and build on our success. You can access the report at www.auto-indiana.com.
Jim Schellinger is President of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.