Indiana is now becoming known for a groundswell of innovation, with key wins including a thriving agbiosciences sector, the Midwest headquarters for Salesforce, and a well-established life sciences sector. For a state with so much to offer on the ground, economic developers and aerospace professionals just need to look up to find a new level of opportunity. Outside of these developments, one of the state’s best economic development assets is in aerospace.
The right combination of educational institutions, talented professionals, world-class aerospace companies and an innovative spirit makes Indiana a solid contender in attracting and retaining aerospace talent. In addition to professional resources and a commitment to workforce development, the state of Indiana offers competitive incentives and an outstanding staff to help navigate state government.
Over the past five years, aerospace companies have announced plans to invest more than $900 million to enhance their operations and create new jobs in Indiana. Industry leaders such as Raytheon and Rolls-Royce have called Indiana home for decades. Raytheon boasts a workforce of 1,600 in central and northeastern Indiana and relies on more than 300 supplier companies across the state. With a focus on cybersecurity, the company has found ample talent through a number of local universities. Rolls-Royce’s longtime footprint in Indiana was bolstered by an investment of almost $600 million for research and operations in Indiana. This significant amount marked the largest U.S. investment by the U.K. company in 10 years.
Innovation drives Indiana and its international partners.
While Raytheon and Rolls-Royce pump capital into the Hoosier economy, the state has approached businesses with the same philosophy that brought record-breaking job growth to Indiana: public-private partnerships work, and state government must work hand-in-hand with private partners to ensure success. The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), the state’s lead economic development organization, fosters a spirit of collaboration with corporate partners and helps the business community benefit from the state’s common-sense regulatory framework and incentive options.
General Electric (GE) Aviation also has a solid footprint in Indiana with the Leading Edge Aviation Propulsion engine factory in Lafayette. The 300,000-square-foot plant, which launched production in late 2015, will employ more than 230 people to produce engines that power Airbus A32 NEO and Boeing 737 Max aircraft. GE has successfully recruited from local universities including Purdue, Ivy Tech Community College and Vincennes University. In addition to bringing in new talent, GE has also tapped veteran talent with about 40 percent of the workforce having previously served in the armed forces. The plant anticipates producing five engines per day by 2020 – a lofty production goal that the Hoosier workforce is ready to meet.
Global aerospace supplier Arconic Forgings and Extrusions also saw the benefits of doing business in Indiana and took advantage of the great engineering workforce available in Lafayette. Arconic chose Indiana as its location for the world’s largest aluminum-lithium facility, which is the largest of the company’s three such facilities. The company supplies the A380, 787 and G650 aircraft. In Lafayette, Arconic has the capability to make the world’s largest aluminum-lithium ingots; the cast house next to the plant can produce more than 20,000 metric tons of aluminum-lithium annually. The IEDC and local government worked closely together to provide an attractive incentive package that helped Indiana land these impressive and innovative facilities.
Not only do existing and prospective aerospace companies benefit from working with an experienced economic development staff at the IEDC, but the industry also benefits from the Indiana Office of Defense Development, an agency that focuses solely on defense needs, including aerospace. Executive Director Danielle Chrysler is both an experienced public servant and an Indiana National Guard member who previously served as the chief operating officer of the National Center for Complex Operations. With her expertise in both policy and national security, Ms. Chrysler provides a unique perspective to both state policymakers and corporate partners alike. With more than $3 billion in federal contracts obtained by Hoosier companies, it is clear that Indiana is well positioned to serve the needs of the aerospace defense sector with specialized expertise that gets results.
Indiana’s careful and deliberate approach to aerospace education, workforce and policy has built a foundation for today’s success.
The framework for aerospace and defense success in Indiana was built deliberately over time; the same can be said for the state’s talent pipeline and culture of innovation. With nine universities offering aerospace degrees and more than 30,000 engineers in the state, there is no shortage of aerospace knowledge or talent to ensure a company’s success in Indiana. In addition to being the home of notable engineering programs at Purdue University, the University of Notre Dame, and the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, the academic community offers unique research opportunities. In South Bend, the Notre Dame Turbomachinery Lab was built through a strategic collaboration with GE, resulting in a 43,000-square-foot facility that contains five test facilities, a machine shop and a supercomputing center. Secure facilities exist for Department of Defense contractors to conduct research onsite. All of this is in addition to the cutting-edge Notre Dame aerospace work done at the Hessert Laboratory for Aerospace Research, which works with a variety of public and private organizations.
West Lafayette’s Purdue University has made its mark on engineering as one of the top ranking engineering schools in the United States and in the world. The university’s aviation technology degree provides the educational foundation for future aerospace engineers, and the school’s outstanding academic talent continues to research innovative solutions for the next generation of aircraft. Purdue is part of a $9.8 million, three-year Air Force Research Laboratory contract led by the University of Dayton Research Institute to research materials and structures for reusable hypersonic vehicles. Purdue is uniquely positioned to take part in this work with its wind tunnel, which has the ability to run “quietly” while conducting experiments in airstreams travelling at Mach 6. Other groundbreaking research includes the work of professors who have demonstrated how to create super-strong aluminum alloys with strength beyond that of stainless steel. Purdue’s continued commitment to research excellence makes Indiana an ideal location for aerospace companies looking for partnership and innovation that is recognized worldwide.
Combining quality of life, a strong workforce and a balanced budget, Indiana is taking job creation to the next level.
Indiana has been deliberate and strategic not only in the aerospace sector, but in the state’s commitment to fiscal responsibility and stability that allows business to succeed and its citizens to thrive. The state proudly touts its AAA bond rating, balanced budget and low corporate and personal tax rates. For the past year, Governor Eric J. Holcomb has undertaken an aggressive job growth and international outreach campaign that yielded record-breaking jobs numbers in 2017. With this track record of success, it is no surprise that Chief Executive Magazine named Indiana the number one state in the Midwest in which to do business and ranked the state fifth nationally.
Accolades aside, business isn’t all work: success is driven by people, corporate culture and commitment to longevity. Hoosiers don’t just go to work; they develop fulfilling careers with staff retention rates exceeding what is typically found on the coasts. The low cost of living and award-winning school districts allow families to thrive and provide a solid foundation for the next generation of thought leaders. The Hoosier state offers more than a stable, low-cost business environment: it is a state that works for business growth, employee satisfaction, and for companies who embrace innovation and excellence on all fronts.
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