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Indianapolis: Economy


Major Industries and Commercial Activity

Indianapolis is a primary industrial, commercial, and transportation center for the Midwest. Situated in proximity to the vast agricultural region known as the corn belt and to the industrialized cities of the upper Midwest and the East, Indianapolis is supported by a diversified economic base. Prior to the 1980s, the city's principal industry was manufacturing, which has been displaced by retailing and services. Having made a conscious decision to achieve prosperity through sports, Indianapolis quadrupled its tourism trade and doubled its hotel space during the period 1984–1991, largely by hosting amateur sporting events. Since that period, Indianapolis' role in the sports arena has magnified. Each major sporting event pumps tens of millions of dollars into the economy and leads to expanded business opportunities, more jobs, and increasing tax payments to the city. Tourism and conventions, including the hotel industry, are major economic factors.

Top-performing companies based in Indianapolis include Anthem Inc., Conseco Inc., Eli Lilly and Company, Guidant Corp., Duke Realty Corp., Hunt Construction Group, National Wine & Spirits, and Simon Property Group. Major employers include Clarian Health, Dow AgroSciences, Roche Diagnostics, and more than 20 others.

The insurance industry has long been established in Indianapolis; several insurance companies have located their headquarters and regional offices in the city. With the largest stockyards east of Chicago, Indianapolis is also an important meatpacking center.

Items and goods produced: food and allied products, furniture and woodworking, paper and allied products, printing and publishing, chemicals, petroleum and allied products, rubber and plastic products, primary metals, fabricated metal products, machinery, electrical and electronics equipment, transportation equipment, instruments, medical and optical goods, knitted garments, bricks

Incentive Programs—New and Existing Companies

Principal goals of Unigov are stimulation of business growth through a broader distribution of the tax base, streamlined business access to government services, and expansion of city boundaries. The Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee, an independent adjunct of the mayor's office, and the Corporate Community Council facilitate public and private business cooperation.

Local programs

The City of Indianapolis offers a maximum $20,000 grant for remediation of brownfields in its Brownfields Grant Program. The Facade Grant Program offers rebates of up to 50 percent of total cost (or a maximum of $10,000) for facade improvements. Other programs include the Neighborhood Action Grant, tax abatements for Economic Revitalization Area designation, procurement opportunities, and Community Development Block Grants.

State programs

The State of Indiana offers tax credits for businesses expanding in Indiana or newly-operating in Indiana through its Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) program. Tax Credits are also available through the Enterprise Zone Program. The Skills Enhancement Fund reimburses eligible employee training costs, as does the TECH Fund, GET program, WIN program, and several others. The state grants loans and administers such programs as the Small Business Administration 7A Program, the Indiana Business Modernization and Technology Corporation, the Corporation for Innovation Development, and the Indiana Corporation for Science and Technology (research and development grants).

Job training programs

Indianapolis Private Industry Council Inc. provides job services through seven WorkOne centers throughout the city; it also contracts out federal Workforce Investment Act youth programs and assists businesses with hiring and training programs. IMPACT, Indiana's Welfare-to-Work program, assists in training and skills. JobWorks provides assistance to area businesses and job-seekers throughout Northeastern Indiana.

Development Projects

Indianapolis is in the midst of a cultural and quality-of-life resurgence that shows no signs of slowing. In 1999 White River Gardens, a $15 million "sister institution" to the Indianapolis Zoo, opened its 3.3 acres of botanical and water gardens and a five story conservatory. Also that year the $35.7 million Indiana Historical Society headquarters opened downtown, as did the Conseco Fieldhouse, a 750,000 square foot stadium seating 18,500.

In 2000 the Adam's Mark Hotel & Suites opened in a converted building near the state capitol, with 332 luxury suites and guest rooms at a price tag of $50 million. The Indiana Convention Center and RCA Dome added 100,000 square feet of exhibit space, placing the center among the top 25 in the country. At $45 million, the expansion was completed in 2001 and also added new meeting space, a new entrance, pre-function space, and a skywalk linking the center to the new Indianapolis Marriott Downtown (opened the same year).

In 2002 the Indiana State Museum opened a new 270,000 square foot, $105 million building constructed entirely of materials found in Indiana, including sandstone, limestone, steel, brick, and glass. New facilities at the White River State Park were completed in 2003 with a new park entrance, visitor center, and children's play area. That same year ground was broken for a new terminal at the Indianapolis International Airport, slated for completion in 2008. The Children's Museum of Indianapolis opened its new $25 million permanent exhibit, Dinosphere, in 2004; it is the largest exhibit of dinosaur fossils in the nation. Also in 2004 the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art (iMOCA) opened downtown. The Conrad Hotel, the city's first five-star hotel, is under construction and expected to be completed in 2006.

In April 2005 a $900 million financing bill was passed for the creation of a new, multi-purpose stadium and expanded convention center; groundbreaking was expected to begin in the summer of 2005, with a completion date slated for September of 2010. The new facility would more than double the current convention center's space; while the current center just underwent its third expansion since its opening, feasibility studies concluded that still more space is needed. When complete, the project will provide the city with 733,700 square feet of exhibit space, including 583,700 square feet of exhibit space in the convention center, plus 150,000 in the connected multi-purpose stadium.

Economic Development Information: Division of Planning, City of Indianapolis, 200 East Washington St., Suite 1802, Indianapolis, IN 46204; telephone (317)327-5112

Commercial Shipping

Indianapolis is a major transportation and distribution hub for the Midwest. As the most centrally located of the largest 100 cities in the United States, Indianapolis is within 650 miles of 55 percent of all Americans, or more than 50 million households. The city is served by four interstate highways, six railroads, an international airport, and a foreign trade zone. Three ports serve the entire state and are all within a three hour drive of Indianapolis.

The hub of an extensive rail network, Indianapolis has a total of 26 rail corridors in operation, and five key freight facilities. CSX and Norfolk Southern are the two Class 1 operations, and the four shortlines consist of Indiana Railroad Co., Indiana Southern, Louisville & Indiana Rail, and Central Railroad of Indiana.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

Indianapolis employers draw from a workforce of about one million skilled and educated regional workers; the region boasts a higher than national average worker productivity rate. The economic diversity of the region contributes to its success, as does its attractiveness to companies due to the transportation infrastructure, skilled workforce, business incentives, and quality of life.

With central Indiana becoming less dependent on the automobile industry, manufacturing continues to be the strongest economic sector in Indianapolis. In the third quarter of 2004, Indianapolis manufacturing firms employed just over 13 percent of the labor force. Health care industries supported just over 12 percent of the area's jobs, with retail and accommodation and food service following, with 11.5 percent and 9 percent of the area's jobs, respectively.

The developers of the new convention center project (PricewaterhouseCoopers) estimate that the city could benefit by an additional 18-23 major conventions and trade shows annually as well as 4-5 additional consumer shows annually, generating an additional $165 million as well as creating about 2,700 new jobs.

The multitude of downtown development projects added, and continue to add, jobs in the area as well as to generate billions of dollars to the local economy. Indianapolis continues to attract high-profile companies, who headquarter or set up shop in the city.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Indianapolis metropolitan area labor force, 2004 annual average:

Size of non-agricultural labor force: 878,700

Number of workers employed in . . .

construction and mining: 51,900

manufacturing: 101,300

trade, transportation and utilities: 188,700

information: 16,500

financial activities: 63,500

professional and business services: 118,100

educational and health services: 106,100

leisure and hospitality: 84,800

other services: 34,400

government: 113,600

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $21.48

Unemployment rate: 5.7% (March 2005)

Indianapolis: Economy

Largest corporate employers Number of employees
Eli Lilly and Company 14,089
Purdue University 13,831
Indiana University-Purdue University at Indiana 7,066
Indiana University 6,987
Marsh Supermarkets 5,800
Rolls-Royce 4,400
FedEx 4,200
Allison Transmission/Division of GMC 4,000
SBC Indiana 3,850
WellPoint Inc. 3,600

Cost of Living

State taxes are consistently rated among the lowest in the country in terms of total state and local tax collections per capita. Utility costs are also relatively low. Overall cost of living consistently ranks at or below the national average.

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors in the Indianapolis area.

2004 ACCRA (3rd Quarter) Cost of Living Index: 100.4 (U.S. average = 100.0)

2004 ACCRA (3rd Quarter) Average House Price: $241,667 (Hamilton County)

State income tax rate: 3.4% of adjusted gross income

State sales tax rate: 6.0%

Local income tax rate: 0.7%

Local sales tax rate: 1.0%

Property tax rate: 1.53 per $100 assessed valuation

Economic Information: Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, 111 Monument Circle, Suite 1950, Indianapolis, IN 46204; telephone (317)464-2200; fax (317)464-2217


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