As the newly appointed Chief Economic Development Officer at the Indy Chamber, I oversee Indy Partnership, our nine-county region’s economic development organization, implement the Accelerate Indy Plan, our regional economic development strategy, and guide the Global Cities Strategy that maps out the path for our region to become a globally competitive center of business and livability. The Indianapolis Region has the key assets that are important for international companies to succeed, and now is the time to not only secure that knowledge locally, but be very deliberate in telling our story to the world.
The three essential assets that we possess are talent; logistics/location; and supply chain. The combination of these three assets are the foundation of our work on helping local companies gain global traction through export, and to attract new foreign direct investment to our area. In my years of leading 55 trade missions around the world, and working to provide appropriate counseling to small to medium sized companies that want to export, these assets are essential for success. The Indianapolis Region is strong in all categories.
The talent that is delivered every year from our world-renowned universities, our community college system, and the pipeline that we provide through our K-12 system is the most important asset that any region can possess for business success. A technically trained, world view workforce will help our companies grow and compete. Our education talent base is wide, including:
- 3,600 engineers produced every year through Indiana’s colleges;
- 29,000 foreign students providing diversity in the classroom for an enriched learning experience (Indiana is ranked 10th in the US for number of foreign students; Purdue is ranked #8 and IU is ranked #17 among all US colleges and universities);
- 150 technical training/certificate programs through Ivy Tech Community College (Ivy Tech Community College is ranked first in the nation amongst two-year colleges for the number of associate degrees granted);
- 29 international study programs that Indiana students can take advantage of;
In addition to what is already produced every year in Indiana, a deliberate effort to attract new talent to our region is underway. This is something that the Indy Partnership will be working on with our partners at Ascend Indiana, Employ Indy, and other workforce development programs. Career opportunities and quality of life are the areas we will use as our sales tools to encourage more talent to make the Indianapolis Region their home.
The Indianapolis Region, which is the center of the United States from a logistics perspective, already possesses the air support, rail and freeway assets, and proximity to major US and Canadian markets. We see the successful growth of our area in moving products around the US and the world. While we will continue to promote this region as a top logistics hub in the US, we cannot just excel in moving goods. We also need to move people around as well.
Regional Transit is an issue that has been an important pillar of the Indy Chamber to move people from where they live to where they work. But it is also the assumption that global regions provide the ability to move around with mass transit. If you go to almost every other major population center in the world, a strong regional transit system is something that most take for granted. However, it is not just moving people around our region that is important, it is moving people in and out of our region globally that is key. We will continue to support the Indianapolis International Airport’s efforts to bring additional direct flights both domestically and internationally to support our companies that need to get to customers and suppliers, wherever they are located, on a daily basis.
Finally, an examination of the existing base of companies in our region shows a great depth of supply chain that can support numerous industries. This is an essential strength of our regional economy. The diversity of the economic sectors that make up the Indianapolis Region will support global companies that we seek to attract to our area. From designing, engineering, prototyping, building, and moving product, the Indianapolis Region has companies that can support those who want to locate, grow, and diversify here. Some regions do not have suppliers in one or more of these areas, and companies have to look inconveniently far away to get the entire cycle of support. This strength in our region is important to companies looking to locate here from around the world, and is another asset that we need to tell the world about.
In a time of change in a global economy, companies that are willing to plan, take risks, and look both within and beyond our borders for business growth will find the key assets to succeed in the Indianapolis Region. We are here to welcome them and to lead them to these factors of success. In the end, we will grow to become the best global region we can be.
By Maureen Donohue Krauss, Chief Economic Development Officer, Indy Chamber