Gov. Eric Holcomb will work to establish stronger ties with the aerospace and automotive industries in France and with general economic development in Hungary when he makes his first trade mission to Europe beginning Monday.
“We’ve got aviation, automotive, aerospace and motor sports companies here in Indiana that are thriving and we want to make sure our partners in both of those respective countries know that we’re not just open for business but we’re the best place in the world to do business,” Holcomb said Friday.
His trip, which includes visits to the Paris Air Show and Le Mans, is scheduled at a time when Indiana’s manufacturing and logistics industries just received a rosy outlook.
On Friday, Ball State University economics professor Michael J. Hicks graded Indiana with an A in manufacturing, industry and health in a presentation to a business conference sponsored by Conexus Indiana in Indianapolis.
Hicks graded the cost of worker benefits at a B, an increase from the previous C-plus due in part to a decline in health premiums brought about by the expansion of Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 enrollments.
“According to folklore, this has been a terrible generation for manufacturing,” Hicks said. “That’s not what the data says.”
Inflation-adjusted data for industrial production shows that from 1919 to 2016 the year 2015 was best for Indiana, Hicks said. “We’re in a remarkable period of growth and manufacturing,” he said.
Productivity and innovation in Indiana, however, dropped from a B-plus in 2016 to a B in this year’s report.
Holcomb’s European trip comes less than a week after the Indiana Chamber of Commerce issued its biannual report card on its extensive Indiana Vision 2025 initiated in 2012.
The report shows that although Indiana is moving forward, a faster pace is needed to address the lack of skilled workers to meet economic needs, the high rates of obesity and smoking and a lack of venture capital to support entrepreneurial activity.
In response Friday, Holcomb said efforts were underway to solidify a comprehensive strategy through his Next Level agenda which includes enhancing economic development through the regional cities initiative and funding for road infrastructure for 20 years through a 10-cent-a-gallon gasoline tax hike beginning July 1.
While in Hungary, Holcomb and Indiana Secretary of Commerce Jim Schellinger will attend a business forum hosted by the Hungarian Investment Promotion Agency in establishing partnerships. The governor will also meet with Indiana companies with operations in Hungary including Allison Transmission, Eli Lilly & Co. and Remy International.
At the International Paris Airshow, Holcomb is to meet with companies that have operations in Indiana including Arconic, GE Aviation, Praxair, Raytheon and Rolls-Royce Corp.
Since 2013, companies in this industry have announced plans to invest more than $900 million in their Indiana operations and to create more than 1,200 new Hoosier jobs, according to the governor’s office.