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Wednesday, September 12, 2012


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Indiana might be an exception, and as a leader wouldn't have a very good reason to share its advantage with its bigger neighbors. It's the only state with three different FDI auto-assembly plants (Subaru, Toyota, and Honda). Those plants are huge investments with tremendous tier I and tier II supplier spinoffs.
Additionally, Euro and Asian auto parts suppliers came here (either buying existing operations, joint-venturing, or creating new plants). They did this somewhat independently of the "foreign" carmakers, to supply the Detroit Three in the first round of globalization and consolidation.
Many significant Indiana manufacturing operations are now part of foreign companies: Roche (former Boehringer), Rolls-Royce (former Allison Gas Turbine), Sabic (former GE Plastics), Arcelor Mittal (old Bethlehem Burns Harbor works) and it's hard to think of a corner of the state untouched by FDI. Columbus and Seymour in particular have numerous operations. Nestle built and twice expanded a highly visible plant in Anderson.
Since the 1980's, FDI in manufacturing jobs has been a major state economic development priority. It turns out that back in the 80's, even if no one outside the US could find Indiana on a map, the state had a distinct advantage in the auto world: Everyone in the car business had heard of the Indy 500.
This may partly explain why Indiana has long been, and remains, the state with the highest percentage of its jobs in manufacturing. Of course, we might simply be leading the race to the bottom, too, as our per-capita incomes have not kept up with the rest of the country...so be careful what you wish for.

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