Nate Feltman is a born salesman.
As Executive Vice President of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation
(IEDC), he needs to be. It’s his job to convince companies large and small that
locating in Indiana is a wise choice.
He’s very good at it. If you look
at the IEDC web site, you can read press releases about eleven deals that took place
in the month of May alone, with headlines like “Ohio Machining Company to
Expand Into Indiana” or “California Tech Firm to Site New Center in
I thought it would be interesting
to ask him what small businesses should look for if they’re thinking of
relocating in a new state. I told him that I couldn’t write an ad for Indiana,
but that it would be okay to use examples from his home state.
I began by asking him what the
check list should be for a business thinking about relocating.
“You have to look at the
overall cost of doing business,” was his reply. “As a matter of fact,
Indiana has the fourth-lowest cost in the country.”
While never missing an opportunity
to tout his home state, Feltman did provide some good, general insights about state-hunting.
And I have to admit, when our interview was over I was convinced that Indiana
should be on most companies’ short list.
Feltman groups the factors for
evaluating a new location into five areas on the state level. The first relates
to the cost of real estate and utilities. The second is the tax environment,
seen as a whole. The third is the labor pool. Referring to competition for jobs
with low wage countries, he says, “You’re not going to find the quality of
work force we have here,” and he probably has a point The forth factor is
geographical location as seen in terms of transportation and logistics.
“It’s important to be close to your customer,” he says. “You need
to know your customer.” The last category is support for innovation, such
as Indiana’s R&D tax credit.
When I ask him about issues on
the municipal level, he talks about a “shovel-ready” program in
Indiana that involves pre-permitting so that businesses can begin construction
of new facilities quickly.
Indiana spends about $8,000 in
incentives for every job a company creates in the state. And of course, it’s
not alone. Nebraska, to take a random example, offers tax credits worth half a
million dollars to a company with 40 employees over a 7 year period – plus a
handy web-based calculator for you to figure that tax credits your company
Moving even a small operation is
a huge task, not to be taken lightly. But if a move is in your future, it behooves
you to shop around.