By far the most talked-about story of the year, Amazon’s search for its second headquarters – otherwise known as HQ2 – took the nation on a wild ride and left us reeling. While Indiana may not have been selected for the coveted project, the process still resulted in a win for the state. Indianapolis was one of 20 finalist cities, which garnered national attention and will serve as a platform for future development projects. Culp points out that this is a great time for the state of Indiana to become introspective and identify areas of need that can be addressed to ensure future success.
Infosys Airport Campus
One of the largest redevelopment projects in Indiana was the announcement of India-based Infosys to overhaul the old Indianapolis International Airport property into a training center. Cook notes the collaboration between the airport authority, city of Indianapolis, and state of Indiana allowed for an opportunity that will springboard the surrounding area into future development projects. The addition of new jobs, exposure to new audiences, and success of a complex airport redevelopment make this a win for the entire state.
Amazon Nashville Office Hub
With the highs come the lows, and Amazon’s announcement to invest in a logistics operation center in Nashville left many confused. Why wasn’t Indiana given a shot? Cook and Culp both agree the state needs to focus on growing and diversifying its workforce before it’s a contender for projects of this caliber. With Indiana already experiencing a worker shortage, creating a more welcome and inviting culture should be a top priority in order to receive an invite to development opportunities on a go-forward basis.
2019 Legislative Issues
Looking ahead to Indiana’s 2019 legislative session, the biggest topics to impact economic development will be hate crime and workforce issues. Culp feels the state needs to focus on hate crime legislation to ensure we don’t create an environment “where corporate America views us as unfriendly to their workers.” And, as it was in 2018, Cook feels workforce development will – and should – dominate this year’s session. “We have to figure out. How is the money is being spent, what are we funding, and are we coordinating between state and federal agencies?” Cook asks.
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