A Recipe for Economic Development

A Recipe for Economic Development

What are the elements that come together to create successful business communities? We’re talking about the infrastructure ingredients, the brick-and-mortar fixings, and the spicy state programs that come together to form the perfect economic development soup. What types of resources does a municipality need in order to bring new business to their area?

We’ve compiled a recipe for you using input from some of the state’s experts. Let’s dig in!

Site Selection

The first ingredient that’s essential to get economic development started is having adequate space available for companies to call home. Some need shell buildings, some need office space, and others need massive plots of land upon which to build facilities to their specifications. It all depends on their business model.

“Having available and certified land is vital for economic development. OCRA’s IN Site Certified program helps communities mitigate risks, market their available opportunities, and most importantly, illustrates their commitment to economic development,” said Jodi Golden, executive director of the Office of Community and Rural Affairs.


Commerce can’t really flourish in the dark. It takes a lot of power to keep Indiana’s largest companies moving. An industrial manufacturing operation is going to draw a lot of juice, not to mention typically needing other enhanced utility upgrades as well. Our state’s technology companies pull quite a bit of power too, with each one needing unique utility hookups. No matter the business plan, a company’s going to need utilities.

Utility providers such as Duke Energy and NIPSCO have established a framework to assist companies that are seeking to grow their operations in Indiana. Both offer connections to state and local officials in an effort to help companies learn about things such as incentives they may qualify for, sites that might fit their needs, workforce data, and more. Additionally, they both offer their own in-house incentives with regard to things like energy pricing and discounts.


Almost every one of today’s companies needs strong connectivity to stay competitive, even in the industrial sector where one would be surprised to learn how essential online-enabled equipment can be for modern manufacturers. As such, the ability to remain reliably connected to the rest of the world is mandatory when attracting investment to Indiana.

“Business owners rely upon strong telecommunications infrastructure; everything from cell phones, fiber, cloud based voice, high speed broadband, and wireless capabilities. Every business is a little different in their needs,” said Tom Carroll, senior vice president of sales and marketing with NITCO, an Indiana-based telecommunications firm.

“Currently, we’re seeing a strong push for municipal fiber networks,” Carroll added. “These are built and owned by the town or city and are operated by private companies to service existing business and drive job creation and economic development. Valparaiso and Chesterton are currently building separate fiber networks to be operated privately. Other communities are considering it. This type of infrastructure is very interesting to businesses.”

Logistics Options

Accessibility is critically important for nearly all of Indiana’s industries, and this is definitely a state that takes transportation and logistics very seriously. We’re one of the best at moving things, and our distribution capabilities are typically listed among the biggest selling points when local leaders attempt to market available space to companies.

“Logistics is a driver for economic development,” said David W. Holt, vice president of operations and business development with Conexus Indiana, the state’s logistics initiative. “Indiana as the ‘Crossroads of America’ is at the apex of the movement of all manufactured goods to and from their facilities. Therefore, logistics companies, manufacturers, and more are expanding in Indiana and contributing to GDP growth for the state.”


Last but not least, companies are very keen about learning about the extra benefits offered by communities and states. Today, it’s evolved to the point where regions are in active competition with one another to see who can offer the best incentives. Indiana is a powerhouse in this regard, boasting local, county, and statewide incentives that make our state one of the easiest to prosper within.

There are well over a dozen different statewide incentive programs listed plainly on the IEDC’s website, and, depending on a company’s plans, many likely qualify for several at once. Every local county and town has their own unique provisions too; the culmination of which could add up to millions for major employers, even tens of thousands for small businesses. The point is, our state makes it very affordable to set up shop here, and clearly companies are taking notice. Businesses move to Indiana from all over the world at such a consistent pace; it feels, at times, that new announcements are made every week. That’s great for our citizens and fantastic for our economy.

Stir It All Together for Growth

When all of these flavors come together, their aroma brings the companies calling. It’s all about having that Goldilocks-level setting of perfection that enables a firm to move in, set up shop quickly, hire local workers, and set about turning a profit. Our state is a master chef when it comes to making this happen, and all of us have a place at the table to celebrate.