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Michigan yesterday became the 24th state to enact right-to-work legislation, but only the second in the industrial Midwest. Last year, Indiana blazed the trail that made this week’s events possible, introducing what had largely been a Southern and Western phenomenon to a blue-collar region of the country long influenced by union power.
Since Gov. Mitch Daniels signed Indiana’s right-to-work bill in February, Hoosiers have adapted to the new law, and have found that its impact on the state’s economy extends far beyond the issue of forced unionization. Small business owners, for example, have taken the new law not only as an impetus to hire more workers, but also as a sign that the government supports free enterprise and job creators.
Small Business Booming
In the 10 months since Indiana passed right-to-work, 90 companies have told the Indiana Economic Development Cooperation that the new law will affect their decision-making process on locating current and future projects. This means that these companies see right-to-work as a potential incentive to do business–and thus, hire workers–in Indiana.
Of these companies, 67 have progressed in talks with the IEDC to what the agency refers to as the “pipeline stage,” and 31 have accepted the IEDC’s offer to proceed with business projects in the state, creating 3,700 jobs with the potential for over 5,000 more. Over $400 million has been invested through these post-right to work projects, and the IEDC projects that as much as $2.5 billion more in capital could make its way to Indiana.
A call to the IEDC, asking for clarification on the meaning of “pipeline stage” and how the agency arrived at its estimates, was not returned.
In Their Own Words…..
Job creators have publicly recognized right-to-work as a major factor in their decisions to do business in Indiana. In fact, these six business leaders have said so in recent months:
- “”The state of Indiana and the local economic development folks have shown a willingness to do what is necessary to attract businesses to our state. The recent passage of the right-to-work law was just another example of the strong commitment by this state to promote growth and job creation. Indiana offers an enthusiastic business climate and a great workforce. We believe manufacturers in Indiana can rely on Governor Daniels and his staff to support our efforts and investments.” –Nick A. Busche, president of Busche CNC, which manufactures auto parts.
- “Android chose Indiana and specifically Fort Wayne because it’s both an employee- and employer-friendly environment. Recently, Indiana became a right-to-work state and offers us a competitive location and a skilled work force to complement our state of the art technology. All of these factors went into choosing Indiana as an optimal location.” –David Donnay, VP of Human Resources at Android Industries, a vehicle assembly company.
- “We are appreciative that Indiana continues to be a state where Steel Dynamics can expand our product offering and increase our productivity while further establishing our future in our home. The recent enactment of the right-to-work legislation is further evidence of Indiana’s commitment to providing the most competitive business environment possible for global companies like us to grow.” –Barry Schneider, VP/GM of the engineered bar products division at steel producer Steel Dynamics.
- “Right to Work, tax incentives and economic development programs are really the key to creating jobs and SealCorpUSA is a real company with real jobs. SealCorp is making the commitment to create more jobs for the next 10 years here in Indiana.” –Ken Rust, president of SealCorp USA, a chemical manufactuer.
- “With leaders at both the local and state levels committed to our expansion efforts, Indiana has cultivated a pro-business environment with its outstanding infrastructure, talented workforce and recent legislation to lower taxes and become a right-to-work state. All of this provides the perfect setting for Whayne Supply’s growth plans and made our decision to continue to invest in southwest Indiana an easy one.” –Monty Boyd, president of Caterpillar supplier Whayne Supply.
- “PTI gave careful consideration when evaluating where to expand its transportation services. Based on the resources of qualified workers, exceptional local universities as well as Indiana’s recent right-to-work legislation, Indiana was naturally selected as the expansion area of choice.” –Steve McClellan, VP of Professional Transportation Inc., a railroad services company.
Is Michigan Next?
Indiana reaped these benefits by being the first state in a region rich in manufacturing stock to adopt right-to-work laws, making itself into a magnet for industrialists searching for a commerce-friendly environment in which to invest and create jobs. Could Michigan–a state with a proud manufacturing heritage like no other–be the next to see this success? That looks likelier today than it did last week.
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