INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Economic Development Corp. is shifting gears under new leadership – looking to be more aggressive in its approach.
A newly developed strategic plan also comes with a host of hiring and internal promotions for the quasi-governmental agency.
“It's a new administration, so there's a new vision,” said David Rosenberg, executive vice president at the agency. “As we have looked at it, the Indiana (gross domestic product) has underperformed the U.S. GDP 50% of the time over the last five decades. So, we are looking at how to be more aggressive as we move into this new economy.”
He compared it to a Hoosier's 401(k) having a conservative to moderate rate of return instead of moving to accelerated growth settings.
Rosenberg was hired in August – following the appointment of Brad Chambers as Indiana secretary of commerce and president and CEO of the Indiana Economic Development Corp. in June.
Chambers, who declined an interview, is a longtime central Indiana developer. The commerce secretary and IEDC president used to be two separate positions until they were merged earlier this year.
Since Chambers' arrival, four other new executive vice presidents have been hired along with Rosenberg to focus on newly identified priorities. And the strategic plan – the 5E's – is set to be unveiled formally this week. But Rosenberg gave an early peek to The Journal Gazette.
The first is Environment, which relates to improving quality of place in Indiana to grow the state's population. The $500 million READI program – Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative – will anchor this pillar to build connectivity and community, Rosenberg said.
Next up is Economy of the Future. Rosenberg said the state doesn't want to rely on industries that have gotten us to this point.
“We aren't going to abandon those industries because they got us here, but we also need to modernize,” he said.
Manufacturing has long powered the Indiana economy. This pillar will focus on building the talent pool as well.
The third E is Entrepreneurship. Rosenberg said 60% of Indiana graduates want to start a business, but the state is on the lower end of business formation. So, the agency will solidify an entrepreneurship network, including funding for startups as well as expansion.
“Before money from the coasts comes in and pulls them out,” he said.
The fourth E is Energy and how to establish Indiana as a leader in energy transition. He said the state has steep competition from nearby states and the agency needs to spread the message that Indiana's energy costs will be low in the long-run while also offering a reliable and stable grid.
The last E is External Engagement. Rosenberg says the agency has been too humble selling itself.
“We need to tell the world our story,” he said. “So we need to be a little more edgy in our messaging.”
Indiana Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kevin Brinegar said he is intrigued by the agency's ongoing revamping.
“They are on pace for another record year of job commitments, but they are also looking at growing businesses we have,” he said. “The secretary also has a real focus on innovation – attracting and growing higher paying jobs.”
Brinegar said Chambers' approach is not a complete overhaul of the IEDC but instead needed tweaks.
“We are encouraged and look forward to locking arms and helping them in their endeavors. We will be a conduit for what we are hearing from our members,” he said.
Kristin Marcuccilli – a member of the IEDC's board – said Chambers has brought in talented private sector staff with expertise.
• Laurel Judkins is the new executive vice president of external engagement. She makes $165,000.
• Ann Lathrop was named the executive vice president of global investments and makes $175,000.
• Dave Roberts is executive vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation and makes $172,645.
• Just last week, Tony Denhart was named executive vice president of talent and workforce. He starts in January and the agency declined to provide his salary.
Chambers makes 99 cents a year and didn't divest from his company but stepped away from day-to-day involvement.
Marcuccilli is in her fifth year on the board and is most excited about the increased focus on entrepreneurship. She is chief operating officer for STAR Financial Bank.
Chambers “has demonstrated a message that entrepreneurship is important and critical to the future,” Marcuccilli said. “I have felt more energy and excitement.”
This story has been corrected.