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The city’s economic development agency details 67 successful projects in 2019, creating 4,044 new jobs and $516M in capital investment; focus on ‘opportunity industries’ in preparation for Inclusive Incentives

INDIANAPOLIS — Mayor Joe Hogsett and Develop Indy, the City of Indianapolis’ economic development agency housed by the Indy Chamber, reported preliminary business attraction and retention results for 2019 today, confirming the city’s investment in job opportunity and access.

As of December 11th, Develop Indy had pursued 67 successful relocation and expansion projects leading to 4,044 new jobs, 6,833 retained jobs, and $516M in new investment. Average wages reached a record high of over $32/hour.

To promote job access and opportunity in Indianapolis, Develop Indy focused 2019 efforts on growing, “Opportunity Industries”. These industries concentrate the “good” and “promising” jobs which lead to or provide middle class wages and benefits. In total, 86% of the 67 completed projects this year were considered “good” and “promising”.

“As we look back on the list of companies that chose to grow in Indianapolis this year, we are excited to see the opportunities this creates for working families,” said Mayor Joe Hogsett. “With average wages reaching $32/hour, our focus on Opportunity Industries is paying off as we begin to close the gap on income inequality in Indianapolis.”

Advanced manufacturing expansions such as Allison Transmission’s new Vehicle Emissions Testing facility and Innovation Center in Speedway gave a boost to Marion County’s ‘opportunity jobs’ pool. Between the two projects, about 300 new jobs will be created at an average wage of $31/hour as it invests over $73 million on the city’s West Side.

Indianapolis’ tech talent pool continues to attract large high-tech employers such as private health insurance marketplace eHealth, which announced plans in July to establish an East Coast headquarters in Indianapolis. The company plans to hire up to 500 employees by 2023, making this the largest project of the year for Develop Indy. Chicago-based marketing technology company ActiveCampaign also plans to hire more than 200 employees in its new Indianapolis office.

With a 3% local unemployment rate, Develop Indy is helping companies meet workforce demands by tapping into communities such as those exiting the criminal justice system. In 2019, Develop Indy directed 63 businesses to local non-profit PACE for help finding workers from the re-entry community. The partnership is part of a shift in Develop Indy’s strategy that involves leveraging community connections to meet business needs.

In July, Mayor Joe Hogsett and representatives from the Indy Chamber presented a new roadmap for economic development that sets Indianapolis on a path toward inclusive growth for all residents through a modified incentives strategy. The ‘Inclusive Incentives’ outlined will advance job opportunity for Indianapolis residents and remove barriers to employment – such as childcare, transit, and skills training – that prevent individuals from attaining and retaining good paying jobs.

“Through these changes to our incentives programs, we’re maximizing our city’s return on investment,” shared Indy Chamber Vice-President Ian Nicolini, who leads Develop Indy. “By investing in job quality, our city can incentivize growth that provides both job opportunity and a sustainable workforce for the community.”

Instead of focusing only on the number of jobs created or retained for the scoring of projects, the city will also look at local hiring; the participation of businesses owned by veterans, minorities and women; and the location of companies. It also establishes baseline requirements for jobs to be incentivized: sustainable wages, health benefits, workforce support funding, and community impact. The new incentives policies began January 1, 2020.

Indianapolis is also making great strides in improving the city’s culture and livability. In February, the Indy Music Strategy launched an effort to create an economic development strategy for the city’s music economy. Meanwhile, the City of Indianapolis is doubling down on retail development after a recent report shows the downtown retail ‘buying power’ at $440M and growing. Develop Indy’s St’artup317 retail pop-up program finished its second season in May as it helped incubate new brands and activate downtown sidewalks.

“Over the last few years, we’ve been working hard to connect the interests of business, community, and workforce through various initiatives,” added Nicolini. “From refining our incentives and workforce partnerships to supporting our creative economies and entrepreneurship, we’re beginning to see unprecedented innovation in our approach to economic development. With a strong finished to 2019, we’re eager to run 2020 with a solid foundation of collaboration.”

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Taylor Schaffer, City of Indianapolis, 317.694.0463, taylor.schaffer@indy.gov

Joe Pellman, Indy Chamber, 317.464.2251, jpellman@indychamber.com

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