$15B in 72 hours: ‘Our economy is on fire,’ says Commerce chief

Gov. Eric Holcomb, Secretary of Commerce David Rosenberg and other leaders broke ground on a new $2B Google data center in Fort Wayne. (Credit: Office of Gov. Holcomb)

Gov. Eric Holcomb, Secretary of Commerce David Rosenberg and other leaders broke ground on a new $2B Google data center in Fort Wayne. (Credit: Office of Gov. Holcomb)

May 02, 2024

A banner week for investment within Indiana has capped off the state’s biggest financial quarter in recent history, as three major companies agreed to deals estimated to bring in billions of dollars. 

The state has long advertised itself as business-friendly, and its chief executive appeared thrilled by the week’s news. 

“This is about $15 billion in about 72 hours,” Gov. Eric Holcomb told reporters on Friday. “This used to take four years to achieve.”

One announced project, an $11 billion Amazon Web Services data center in north-central Indiana, is the biggest single investment in the state’s history. 

Google also broke ground on a $2 billion data center near Fort Wayne, while Toyota announced a $1.4 billion investment in its Princeton plant. 

“Our economy is on fire,” Secretary of Commerce David Rosenberg said. 

His agency, the Indiana Economic Development Corp., negotiated the deals. The state is offering millions of dollars in tax incentives in order to create some 1,500 new jobs. 

“These industries bring generational change for families, putting more money in their pockets and allowing them the opportunity to have a better quality of life on their own,” Rosenberg said. 

The projects

Amazon’s new data center will be built near New Carlisle. It’s expected to bring in at least 1,000 new jobs in the artificial intelligence and cloud storage sectors. No timetable for completion of the project was given.  

According to Amazon, the company has invested $21.5 billion in Indiana since 2010, creating 26,000 full- and part-time jobs. 

Inside an Amazon data center. (Credit: Amazon)

Google’s new data center will hire up to 200 new workers, the tech giant said, “in the coming years.” 

Toyota will build a new assembly line that will assemble battery-operated SUVs by the end of 2025. It expects to add up to 340 new jobs to the plant, which Toyota said now employs more than 7,500. 

The company has spent $8 billion on the Princeton plant since breaking ground in 1996, Toyota said. 

The new projects’ figures represent early estimates and could change as they move forward. 

Incentives aren’t the only factor

Rosenberg praised the Indiana General Assembly for passing legislation that allows the state to offer sales tax exemptions as a lure for new businesses. Both Amazon and Google will receive such boosts, and the Amazon project could receive up to $100 million in additional credits based on various incentives. 

But Rosenberg stressed tax breaks are only part of the equation as the state looks to compete internationally. 

“We don’t have to have the highest offer because we bring the university partners, the state and local governments, utilities — everyone around the table to make sure that company has what they need,” he said. 

The Google project, for example, includes partnerships with Ivy Tech Community College on a new job training program and Indiana Michigan Power to bring clean energy resources to the local grid. 

Recruiting new industries

Rosenberg said tech recruitment has been a particular focus for the IEDC, as Indiana is looking to provide an “ecosystem” for these companies to thrive off one another. The state’s semiconductor facilities will provide the materials needed for these new data centers, he noted. 

Recruiting new business takes anywhere between six months to several years. Zoning, road construction, utilities and more need to be worked out ahead of time. 

The IEDC has been on a hot streak, Rosenberg said. During the agency’s first 11 years,  it secured just under $50 billion in new projects. It has now pulled in more than $71 billion since the beginning of 2022. 

In the first four months of 2024, $20.68 billion has been pledged to projects in Indiana — the most for a quarter since IEDC’s founding in 2005. 

‘Strong partners for the Indiana economy’

“The key is that these investments represent long-lasting and continued commitment to being strong partners for the Indiana economy,” said Andrew Butters, an associate professor of business economics and public policy at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business.

Large companies came out of the pandemic looking to reorient their supply chains, Butters said, and some states have reaped the benefits of projects that might have previously moved overseas. 

Indiana has been able to compete by selling its location, workforce, labor force participation in addition to offering incentives, Butters said. 

“I would not be shocked to see more of these as the state attempts to transition toward more high-tech and high-skill industries,” Butters said. 

Contact Rory Appleton on X at @roryehappleton or email him at [email protected]