By Jim Schellinger, Indiana Secretary of Commerce
2020 was truly a year for the history books, one filled with unprecedented challenges and uncertainty.
In Indiana, we met those challenges head-on under Governor Eric J. Holcomb’s leadership, marking the fourth consecutive, record-breaking year for economic development in our state, with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) securing 282 commitments from companies to locate or grow here.
Together, these businesses plan to invest more than $5.6 billion in their Indiana operations and create up to 31,300 new Hoosier jobs over the next few years, marking the highest annual record for new job commitments since the IEDC was established in 2005.
Indiana secured growth in key sectors statewide, including manufacturing, tech, life sciences and defense. Despite the economic uncertainty, Elanco Animal Health announced its plan to construct a new headquarters in Indianapolis, committing to create up to 573 new jobs and retain more than 1,600 across the state. Companies like Taranis, Milwaukee Tool and NewCold chose to establish their first Hoosier operations, along with the combined creation of hundreds of jobs over the next several years. But while breaking economic development records has become a familiar feeling in Indiana, last year was anything but business as usual.
Amid the economic growth we secured last year, many Indiana businesses from small startups to large corporations, felt the negative impact of the pandemic. Despite that, Hoosiers met each new obstacle with creativity, commitment and compassion — fueling new innovations in life sciences, technology and manufacturing that will impact industry long after COVID-19.
When the whole world was struggling to find personal protective equipment (PPE), Hoosier manufacturers and suppliers stepped up without hesitation to switch gears and find ways to provide it. Distilleries started producing hand sanitizer, commercial seamsters switched to medical gowns and surgical face masks, and automotive manufacturers launched production of face shields and ventilators. By late April, more than 6.3 million pieces of PPE were procured by the state, and 1.2 million pieces were distributed to Indiana’s hospitals, first responders, long-term care facilities and health care providers.
As the world works to fight the pandemic, Indiana has been at the center of innovation. Roche Diagnostics received the FDA’s first emergency-use authorization for a commercially-developed COVID-19 test, deploying tests to hospitals and labs nationwide, and Eli Lilly & Company received FDA authorization for its monoclonal antibody drug, which has been shown to reduce hospitalizations by 70 percent for high-risk COVID-19 patients. Meanwhile, Catalent’s biologics facility in Bloomington is providing large-scale, commercial fill-finish manufacturing for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccines, and Indiana Face Mask, a 2020 startup, became the fifth U.S. company to secure approval to manufacture in-demand N95 face masks.
Not to mention the critical role our flourishing tech sector played in keeping Hoosier families and workers connected throughout the pandemic. Companies like Genesys leveraged the cloud to help call center employees work remotely, while High Alpha launched a new company, Filo, to support new demand for online meeting space.
And as the world sheltered in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, our state’s logistics and transportation sector supported an increased need for shipping and delivery services. Being home inspired new and renewed hobbies, leading to increased demand for products and services from companies like Sweetwater, the world’s largest music retailer, and from Do it Best Corp., which provides essential tools for home improvement projects.
Supporting Hoosier Businesses
As Indiana Secretary of Commerce, I had the privilege of co-chairing the Indiana Relief and Recovery Team, convened by Gov. Holcomb to plan, administer and account for federal relief funds for the state. Through CARES Act funding, we provided much-needed support to Indiana’s small businesses, which comprise 99 percent of Indiana’s economy and employ approximately 1.2 million Hoosiers. As COVID-19 began to impact Hoosier businesses, Indiana acted quickly to secure $3.7 million in relief funding in early March from the U.S. Small Business Administration to support increased resources for Hoosier entrepreneurs and small businesses.
The state launched the Small Business Restart Grant program to accelerate economic recovery among Hoosier small businesses. After the program’s launch in June, the state has awarded more than $33.9 million in grants to 1,941 small businesses in 85 counties as of the last week of February, with more than $5 million committed to minority-owned and women-owned businesses.
To stimulate long-term investments in the state’s manufacturing industry, Indiana dedicated more than $4 million toward Manufacturing Readiness Grants, which support manufacturers in modernizing their operations and efficiencies to succeed in today’s 21st century economy. These programs, which have been identified as key priorities by Gov. Holcomb and the Indiana General Assembly for the 2021 legislative session, provide access to critical resources for two key drivers of the Hoosier economy.
Along with direct funding, the state bolstered its efforts to support small businesses and entrepreneurs through assistance and training. The Indiana Small Business Development Center expanded its services to include assisting small businesses in applying for funding programs like the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). With its support, more than 83,246 Indiana companies secured more than $9.56 billion in federal PPP loans in 2020.
Throughout the year, our team increased outreach to businesses domestically and internationally to discuss the challenges they were facing and ways the IEDC could help. And despite the turbulence and uncertainty businesses were experiencing with no promised end date, they continued to plan for the future, making decisions to locate and grow – at a record pace – in Indiana. In May, those plans led to a new four-year record as new job commitments surpassed 100,000 under Gov. Holcomb’s leadership, giving Hoosiers confidence in Indiana’s future.
Looking to the Future
Indiana met the challenges of 2020 with a powerful combination of brilliance and resilience. And as we continue working to get Indiana back on track, we are laser-focused on ensuring global businesses and top talent have the resources needed to succeed here. At the beginning of 2021, Gov. Holcomb announced the alignment of the IEDC with the Indiana Office of Career Connections and Talent, further enabling us to be a true talent partner to growing businesses and bolster our competitiveness in attracting new investment opportunities—a need we’ve heard consistently from businesses here and around the world, throughout the pandemic and beyond.
When businesses choose to invest in Indiana, they’re choosing to invest in the people who make our state the best place to live, work, play and stay. After finishing an unprecedented year strong, the arrival of 2021 brings new hope and the confidence that by working together, Indiana will remain one of the nation’s top destinations for businesses, workers and families.