2015 Regional Report: The Midwest


iStock_000000606145_Small“No state in the Midwest,” says site selection consultant Larry Gigerich, managing director of Ginovus, “has made as much progress as Indiana” in economic development. Two-thirds of the way through this year, over 200 commercial projects representing over $3.3 billion in investment have been completed.

“Last year was a record year in Indiana,” says John S. Taylor, president of the Indiana Economic Development Association. “And we are on pace to break that record this year.” Indiana continues to lead the nation in share of manufacturing employment per capita and highest manufacturing sector income share of total income.

As the state positions itself as the Crossroads of America, the need for new infrastructure funding mechanisms is top of mind. “We’ve reached the point where gasoline taxes and diesel fuel taxes are no longer keeping pace with inflation,” says Indiana Chamber of Commerce president Kevin Brinegar.

Chamber-spearheaded legislation has facilitated highway lease deals; last year a new lease for the Hoosier State’s toll road, touted as the “Main Street of the Midwest,” pumped over $4 billion into the state coffers. Gov. Mike Pence has championed such innovations as driverless cars, solar-powered roads and a second beltway around Indianapolis. Pence’s signing of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in March was rebuked by CEOs of corporations like Apple and Salesforce, who contended the law created a hostile environment.

They threatened to pull out of the state and Pence backed down. The Tax Foundation ranks Indiana’s state and local tax burden 22nd highest out of 50 states and eighth in business tax climate. Indiana spends over $921 million a year on incentive programs.


IndianaWHO Scott Moorehead, CEO, TCC

WHERE Carmel, Indiana

SITE HISTORY TCC was founded in 1991 in Marion, in a small converted house next door to the CEO’s family-owned electric company headquarters. Seeking more space and a community environment more suited to attracting employees, the company moved its headquarters in August into a 55,000-square-foot building in Carmel, near Indianapolis.

WHY INDIANA “The cost and quality of living for employees and their families is very reasonable. In Indiana, you can afford a home in a friendly neighborhood that you and your family can enjoy. Indiana also offers talented individuals who attended major universities including Purdue in Lafayette, IU in Bloomington, Notre Dame in South Bend and more.”

BOTTOM LINE “The cost and quality of living for employees and their families is very reasonable, We love all the city parks in Carmel for our family to explore and have fun outside and the access to great grocery stores. Personally I love Bub’s Burgers & Ice Cream!”


Supporters of Wisconsin’s right-to-work legislation cheered when it passed in March. Since its passing, “we are getting more and more investors coming in and putting plants up,” says Green Bay-based KI Furniture CEO Richard Rensch. Wisconsin can use the boost after last year’s meager 1.5 percent private-sector job growth.

The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce sees “a solid majority” of economic indices “point(ing) upward,” driven by rising employment; Manpower Group’s spring study says employers “feel bullish” about hiring. The Tax Foundation ranks Wisconsin’s state and local tax burden fifth-hghest out of 50 states and 43rd in business tax climate. Wisconsin spends over $153 billion a year on incentive programs.


WisconsinWHO Dick Resch, CEO of KI Furniture

WHAT Furniture manufacturer

WHERE Green Bay, Wisconsin

SITE HISTORY Founded in Aurora, Illinois in 1941 as Krueger Metal Products, the company moved into an 180,000-square-foot factory in Green Bay’s Bellevue section in 1945 and changed its name to KI. The building underwent a $3.3 million, 100,000-square-foot expansion in 2012. KI operates eight additional plants around the world.

WHY WISCONSIN “The Badger State has implemented sensible right-to-work rules that encourage us to create jobs in Wisconsin, and allow our workers to keep more of their wages. Wisconsin’s workforce is welleducated. Our state is home to a quarter-million college students and more than 360,000 enrollees in technical colleges. We rely on this home-grown talent to fill KI’s ranks. And, Wisconsinites have a tremendous work ethic. That’s a big reason why manufacturing jobs are growing in our state.”

BOTTOM LINE “Green Bay has given us generations of highly skilled workers, without whom KI would not have grown from a $4 million company to a $700 million company over the past 50 years.”


iStock_000002701194_SmallAfter several solid years of economic growth, Iowa began 2015 with a record-level workforce and employers expressing high confidence levels. Gem State economists expect the growth rate to slow down to a steady 1.1 percent annual growth over the next seven years. Projected occupational gainers are construction, computing, personal services, sales, healthcare and social services; growth clusters include office services, transportation and construction.

Signs of potential concern: the growth rate for personal income declined to 1.4% last year, down from a 3.1% average gain the past couple of years—and well below the state’s post-Recession high water mark of 9.2% growth. The Tax Foundation ranks Iowa’s state and local tax burden 22nd lowest out of 50 states and 19th in business tax climate.

Iowa spends over $43 million a year on incentive programs.

How the States Stack Up