Governors, Indiana and Infrastructure

By February 25, 2007General

With the country’s governors in town for the annual winter meeting of the National Governors Association, C-SPAN’s Washington Journal program interviewed three state chief executives this morning: Mitch Daniels, R-IN; Kathleen Sebelius, D-KS; and Sonny Purdue, R-GA.

We caught the 8:30 a.m. interview with Daniels, governor of the most manufacturing-intensive state in the country; manufacturing accounts for 28 percent of Indiana’s Gross State Product. (NAM state fact sheet here in .pdf format.) Host Steve Scully covered the hot issues — Daniels’ proposed privatization of the state lottery, the leasing of the Indiana Toll Road to a private consortium, and Indiana’s remarkable success in attracting new investment in the automotive sector, specifically the major expansions by Cummins, Honda and Toyota.

Scully asked Daniels to contrast Indiana’s accomplishments to Michigan’s lagging economy under Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a comparison Daniels diplomatically declined to make. He did, however, offer his administration’s formula for success, which notably emphasizes infrastructure.

Get your house in order. Keep taxes down. Have a regulatory regime which is firm but also consistent, predictable, but most of all, quick. Get out and hustle and market your state to businesses, as I try to do everywhere I go.

And also have the best infrastructure possible. We tackled the roads and rails problems of Indiana directly, because it means everything to our ability to bring future jobs. Honda, Toyota, all these companies you’re asking me about, when asked why they picked Indiana, invariably mentioned access to transportation as either the No. 1 or No. 2 reason.

Darn good strategy from manufacturing’s perspective. Indiana’s experience reinforces the reason NAM’s agenda for the 2007 Congress stresses the importance of a revitalized, 21st Century infrastructure as a key to maintaining America’s manufacturing competitiveness. Whether it’s roads, rail, airports, ports or waterways, a top-notch infrastructure is essential for getting U.S. products to the customer. All the productivity in the world doesn’t matter if you cannot ship your goods.

Daniels had more to say about Indiana’s economic development strategies, including its goal of expanding on its manufacturing base. For his additional comments, please read below in the extended entry. And for a report on Indiana’s development efforts and successes, please see this column by Indiana Commerce Secretary Nate Feltman.

We have a very clearly articulated economic strategy, and it has a lot of emphasis on knowledge-based jobs, particularly in the life sciences, where we have, we think, a head start in terms of both the universities and the companies we have.

Our strategy leans a lot on advanced manufacturing of the Cummins and Toyota variety, on logistics and distribution. We’ve had a host of new distribution centers come to our state, again because of our location and road network. In the life science and in agriculture, in all its forms; we have an explosion of alternative fuel plants start up in Indiana in the last two years, and we see a bright future there, too. We will take our opportunities where we find them. I’ll be announcing some information technology jobs this week. Again, it will take a much more diverse economy than we have had in Indiana in the past. We are the most manufacturing intensive state in America, historically and still today. We’re working hard to preserve and extend our manufacturing, but also to diversify.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Larry says:

    I have been very pleased with new policies with regard to the approach to promoting forestry on private lands as well as public. Also, It is so pleasing to see the State finally recognize the importance of forests to our economy.

    Now we need to connect this to the need to preserve our land base of forests for the environmental benefits they provide.

  • Sarah says:

    Governor Daniels has been a refreshing breath of fresh air to the State of Indiana. Go Hoosiers!