Lt. Governor of Indiana (1980 – 1988)
During his tenure in office, Mutz helped open Indiana to Asia, drafting sister-state relationships with China and Japan and creating economic partnerships that still benefit Hoosiers today.
After World War II, one of the most important objectives for the State of Indiana was to revitalize the economy and create more jobs for Hoosiers. Nations around the world were slowly rebuilding trust and strengthening international relations, and those relationships created new opportunities for global trade.
As Japan became a leading force in the automotive industry, Lieutenant Governor John Mutz saw the potential for a mutually beneficial partnership between Indiana and Japan.
Indiana had an excess of unemployed laborers looking for work, while Japan needed to expand their manufacturing capacity. So, in the 1980s, Mutz began the bridge-building process by opening an office in Tokyo, where he convened with Japanese and American leaders.
John Mutz recognized the value of bringing foreign companies and professionals to Indiana. In his words, “It is important to have a forum where people of different ideas and backgrounds can be heard. An interchange of ideas keeps the mind working and provides meaningful [moments].”
Eventually, a deal was reached. Japanese manufacturing companies were permitted to establish their businesses in Indiana, creating new jobs and opportunities for Hoosiers. In return, Indiana’s manufacturers could travel to Japan and learn more about exporting their products to the global market—a move that reinvigorated manufacturing in Indiana.
Now, over 50,000 Hoosiers work for the 300+ Japanese companies that call Indiana home. One of Mutz’s most notable victories was the construction of the Subaru plant in Lafayette. To this day, Subaru of Indiana Automotive is still Subaru’s only manufacturing facility outside of Japan, producing about half of all Subarus sold in North America.
But John Mutz did more for Indiana beyond international trade. He also helped establish IUPUI (Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis) in the heart of downtown. This new, urban campus was only possible thanks to Mutz and his work on Unigov—a unique initiative that consolidated Indianapolis’ city-county government into one entity.
Since then, IUPUI has attracted students from all over the world, fueling Indiana’s economy with new engineering, research, and tech talent. This talent has become a major selling point for Fortune 500 companies, including other international manufacturers such as Rolls Royce and SAAB.
From politics to philanthropy, John Mutz dedicated his life to service, bringing prosperity and global opportunities to Indiana.
“Taken as a whole, it has been an unbelievable journey. Journey is the key word… It’s not the destination or accomplishments that in the long term really count,” said Mutz. “Although I am proud of the past, we will be focused on the future, because that is what will keep us young in spirit and full of life.”
At the end of Mutz’s political career, he decided to shift his focus toward giving back to his community. He became the President of Lilly Endowment Inc. and PSI Energy, before he helped create the Lumina Foundation in 2000.
Thanks to leaders like Mutz, the Endowment has played a major role in the growth of The International Center. Support from the Endowment has helped fund many of their services throughout the years, as The Center continues to connect Indiana with the world.