On the day President Barack Obama visited Elkhart to speak about economic recovery, the head of the state’s economic development agency was in Muncie, praising Indiana’s job creation numbers.
According to the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, the agency has seen companies in Indiana create more than 26,000 jobs last year and more than 8,000 this year.
In a speech in Muncie, IEDC president Jim Schellinger said the state is now focusing on how much each new job will pay. But the definition of success in that varies from county to county.
“So, to say that the average wage in the state is $21.50 – or whatever it is – that can be deceiving," Schellinger said. "So where a $22 an hour job may not be considered a good job in one county, in another county that could be considered a great job.”
It’s that focus on wages that led heating and cooling manufacturer Carrier and its parent company to move jobs to Mexico. Schellinger said there were differing opinions about how to entice Carrier to stay in Indiana.
“The people sitting around the table advising the governor were saying, ‘You’ve got to pound your fist on the table and you gotta look them in the eye and say “What’s it gonna take to keep these 2,100 jobs here,”’ Schellinger said. "The governor asked me what I thought and I said, ‘Well, Governor, I … your high school girlfriend broke up with you on the PA system at school, all right. This one’s not coming back together.”
The team then focused on keeping Carrier’s research and development jobs in the state.
Once known almost exclusively for its agriculture and manufacturing sectors, Schellinger said Indiana officials are now touting job growth in aerospace and defense, life sciences, and technology when connecting at overseas conferences.