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Ball State report says amenities and learning will be critical to state's economy

Wednesday, July 9, 2014 - 4:54 pm

The “footloose” industries that can locate almost anywhere provide a shrinking share of jobs in Indiana, but they remain the key targets of economic-development recruiting, according to a report from Ball State University.

The report released Wednesday was commissioned by the Indiana Economic Development Corp., the state’s top economic-development agency. The report, by Ball State’s Center for Business and Economic Research, identified four broad sectors of the economy in which hundreds of thousands are employed in “footloose” fields: technologically advanced manufacturing, biosciences, emerging media, and information technology and logistics.

Michael Hicks, director the CBER, observed in the report that “there are two broad dynamics at work when considering key sectors in Indiana. The first is that an increasing share of businesses must locate near a population base, leaving a smaller share of jobs that could be lured to a region. The second is that Indiana is a very attractive location for firms that can choose to relocate.”

However, as more and more jobs must locate near sizeable populations, the structure of economic development must shift towards nurturing quality of place and the human capital of workers, Hicks said.

The report released Wednesday did not delve into explaining what constitutes “quality of place” or how best to improve education. But there are 13 more reports coming in the series for the IEDC.

Future reports will delve into more detail on key industries in Indiana, key industries in each of the state’s regions and “emerging business models that are likely to matter to Indiana’s future,” Hicks wrote.