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Making Indy a Crossroads of Global Commerce

Posted by chamberadmin on September 14, 2016

As we swing into the homestretch of election season, “globalization” is a touchy subject for many elected officials and political candidates.  But with more than 100,000 jobs across the Indianapolis region dependent on exports and foreign investment, it’s one buzzword with a major economic upside.

That’s why the Indy Chamber has worked with national experts and local leaders from private industry, higher education and non-profit institutions to create an international trade and investment plan that can position the region for job creation and business growth long after this Election Day is a distant memory.

“Indianapolis is part of a global economy – we can either miss out on those opportunities, or embrace them,” said Indy Chamber CEO Michael Huber.  “We’ve chosen to look forward, to help more local companies participate in international trade and attract more foreign employers.”

In 2013, Indianapolis was chosen to participate as one of 28 U.S. metro areas in the Global Cities Initiative (GCI) Exchange, a joint project of JPMorgan Chase and the Brookings Institution.  GCI prepares business and civic leaders to push programs and policies that lead to global competitiveness – so with Brookings’ support and the help of Indy leaders like Al Smith (JPMorgan Chase), Melina Kennedy (Cummins), former Lieutenant Governor Kathy Davis and others to create plans for boosting regional exports and foreign investment.

In early 2015, the region produced its GCI Metro Export Plan; later that year, Indy joined the next Brookings cohort to develop a complementary foreign direct investment (FDI) strategy.  This week, the Indy Chamber releases the FDI plan as part of an integrated trade and investment strategy that also fits within the region’s new comprehensive economic development blueprint, Accelerate Indy.

Accelerate Indy aims to lift the regional economic focus from low cost to high value – and global commerce is a perfect fit.

Advanced industries = Global industries

As FDI planning was being finalized, Brookings released a study that raised the stakes for Indy’s global ambitions, ranking the region among the nation’s leader in advanced industry job creation.  These areas of manufacturing, the life sciences, technology and energy that invest heavily in R&D and employ a high percentage of skilled science, tech, engineering and math (STEM) workers – they also drive U.S. exports and foreign investment, and make up an even greater share of Metro Indy’s global business sector. 

This heavy focus in advanced industries is one reason that exporting companies and foreign employers pay an average of 20% higher wages than domestically-focused firms – contrary to public perception of globalization is a losing proposition of lost jobs and lower wages.