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Indy Partnership Identifies Initial Signs of Recovery for Indy Region

INDIANAPOLIS (Oct. 13, 2020) — The Indy Partnership reports the region’s economy is maintaining stability despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to a diverse business base that is helping to fuel expansion and development.

“We can measure the negative impact that the coronavirus crisis can have on employment based upon a region’s mix of industries,” explains Christine Chmura, CEO and Chief Economist of Chmura Economics & Analytics. “The Indianapolis Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) has a Vulnerability Index to COVID-19 job losses that puts it exactly in the middle of the nation’s 384 MSAs. This suggests the Indy economy is well diversified and should weather this COVID recession better than many MSAs across the nation.”

While industries like e-commerce excelled, some of the region’s dominant industries including tourism and certain manufacturing sectors experienced considerable declines in employment and revenue as a result of the pandemic. Those industries are now stabilizing and working toward recovery. 

The life sciences industry in the Indianapolis region is a complex mix of interconnected sectors. While some sectors such as healthcare saw a decline during the pandemic, others continued to thrive and grow. According to a recent online survey by the Site Selectors Guild, conducted in partnership with Development Counsellors International (DCI), the industry with the most project activity in 2020 was Biotech and Life Science (67% of respondents).[1] The Indy Region has a very strong, and growing, life science sector, supported by various organizations such as BioCrossroads and the Indiana Health Industry Forum (IHIF). Even amid the pandemic, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical parent companies, Switzerland-based Novartis, announced that its subsidiary Advanced Accelerator Applications would build a new 50,000 square foot innovative nuclear medicine manufacturing facility in Indianapolis.

“Indy is fortunate not to be dependent on one or two industries, and that position has allowed us to be resilient,” said Sarah Iglehart, vice president of Regional Economic Development with Indy Partnership, a nine-county regional economic development organization. “The Indy Region consistently finds itself in the middle of the bell curve for recovery in relation to other cities and regions, which means we are collectively maintaining stability across our diverse industry clusters.”

Over the past several months, large projects have been announced that will be essential to the growth anticipated in the next few years. Companies such as Amazon, POINT Biopharma, Milwaukee Tool and Mission Foods have each announced new locations in the Indy Region and will add to the strong manufacturing and logistics portfolio. 

Most recently, plans were approved for a $125 million expansion to the Indiana Convention Center. The addition will include a 50,000 square foot ballroom with a pedestrian skybridge connecting the new space to the existing convention center. Final transformation plans will also include two new hotels with an expected 1,500 rooms and additional meeting space. Thousands of jobs are expected to be created as a result of the project, predominately in construction and hospitality. Construction on the project begins in 2022 with an anticipated completion date of 2024.

Also aiding in the recovery is the commitment from our Indy Region communities to be leaders in COVID-19 response in this time of economic crisis—from community-specific relief programming that provides funding to local businesses, to “shop local” incentives that support small businesses struggling to keep their doors open during this time. 

“We’ve seen impressive business retention and expansion efforts undertaken by our region despite these unprecedented challenges,” says Iglehart. “The Indy Chamber, our parent organization, has been incredibly nimble working to support these efforts, as well as pivoting our focus to address the needs immediately facing the small business community by delivering the necessary capital.”

More than $45 million has been raised by Central Indiana organizations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic from both the public and private sector. In a new plan passed this month as part of the final allocation of CARES Act funding, an additional $11 million was distributed to Indianapolis economic and small business recovery. 

Just months after the country experienced unemployment levels that surpassed the Great Recession and rivaled the Great Depression seemingly overnight, Indy Region unemployment dropped to 6.5% in August , according to a recent report by Hoosiers by the Numbers, representing a dramatic improvement from April’s 13.2% unemployment rate as effects of the COVID-19 pandemic began to take shape.

Although current unemployment is nearly double March’s impressively low rate of 3.2%, Indiana’s labor force saw a net increase of nearly 42,000 jobs in August, primarily due to gains in utilities, trade, and transportation. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson MSA is ranked second among large US metropolitan areas (population of 1 million or more) in job growth from February to August 2020.[2]  Competition for a well-trained workforce will continue to be a driving factor for the region’s development efforts. 

“There are long term strategies in place, focusing on resilience and recovery, that allow us to leverage our assets and stay competitive as we look to the next five years and beyond” says Iglehart, “including priorities such as talent development, quality of life and equity inclusion.” 

As a “mid-size city,” Indianapolis is home to an award-winning international airport, strong entrepreneurial ecosystem and expansive public transit options while also providing a sense of place and community. The Indy Region is well positioned for growth with short flights for business travel and short commute times to many communities that offer a rural environment with affordable housing and exceptional school systems. 

“The Indy Region offers a compelling case to companies and individuals looking for a place to call home,” says Iglehart. “The cost of doing business is exceedingly competitive, talent and workforce capacity is readily available, and we are constantly working to ensure our sense of community is welcoming and inclusive. And, while there might not be a clear end in sight in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will continue to rise to the challenges during this difficult time.”

ABOUT INDY PARTNERSHIP:

Indy Partnership is a regional economic development organization supporting nine Central Indiana counties including Boone, Hancock, Hamilton, Hendricks, Johnson, Madison, Marion, Morgan, and Shelby. With a strong focus on business and talent attraction, retention and expansion, Indy Partnership strives to elevate the Indy Region as a great place to live, work and do business while also fostering impactful relationships for sustainability and growth.

About Brian Scott

I play on the radio from 7 am -1 pm weekdays on 98.9 FM WYRZ and WYRZ.org. Follow me on twitter @WYRZBrianScott or e-mail me at brian@wyrz.org.

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