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Indiana official makes pitch to N.J. executives

Jessica Perry//May 25, 2012

Indiana official makes pitch to N.J. executives

Jessica Perry//May 25, 2012

New Jersey businesses looking to expand have been wooed by Indiana’s top economic development official this week, although he said he isn’t trying to poach Garden State companies.

New Jersey businesses looking to expand have been wooed by Indiana’s top economic development official this week, although he said he isn’t trying to poach Garden State companies.

Indiana Secretary of Commerce Dan Hasler said he met 40 to 50 executives, those based in New Jersey with operations in Indiana and those considering adding operations outside the Garden State.

“Indiana is an exceptional place for them to consider,” Hasler said, citing low costs and strong infrastructure. He referred to the recent Super Bowl in Indianapolis: “It’s not just a place where the New York Giants can win, it’s a place where their companies can win, as well.”

While Gov. Chris Christie previously battled withIllinois officials over which state is friendlier to business,Illinois’ Midwestern neighbor showed a less confrontational approach toNew Jersey executives. Hasler said Indiana isn’t so much competing for northeastern companies’ headquarters as for operations they’re adding elsewhere.

“Frankly, we don’t went them to go to the South,” to places like Texas, Florida and Tennessee, he said. “We just want them to stop, pause and consider Indiana as a highly competitive option for them in addition to those places.”

Hasler said one focus of his trip was an effort to attract data centers, adding that companies are looking for locations to locate the hardware to support cloud computing.

“This cloud’s got to live somewhere, right?” Hasler said. He said fiber-optic lines are being laid along the rail and highway corridors in his state, which he described as the “crossroads of America.” He also saidIndiana’s electric rates — 5 to 5.5 cents per kilowatt hour — also are attractive, as is the lack of natural disasters.

Hasler cited Chief Executive magazine’s annual survey of CEOs, in which Indiana recently rose from No. 6 to No. 5, while New Jersey moved from No. 47 to No. 45.

“We’ve had great success and we’re having the biggest that we have had in history” in terms of attracting companies to the state, Hasler said.

For instance, Swedesboro-based specialty packaging manufacturer IntraPac announced in November that it’s moving its headquarters to Lawrenceburg, Ind.

Indiana recently was in the news for becoming the 23rd “right to work” state, in which unions are barred from requiring membership or dues.

“That is having a huge impact in terms of the companies, not just from the East Coast but in terms of companies from across the country” giving Indiana a chance, Hasler said.

The state also recently cut its property taxes and instituted a property tax cap, but Hasler said the Midwest’s biggest attraction is the lower cost of logistics for companies that distribute nationally.

“We are rated as having one of the best highway and railroad infrastructures in the United States,” with 80 percent of many companies’ customers within a 12-hour drive of the state, Hasler said.

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