Incoming Gov. Mike Pence plans to launch a new “transparency portal” to track Indiana’s economic development spending and the jobs created by companies that receive those tax credits and incentives.
He said Thursday that money to pay for the portal’s launch will be included in the two-year budget his administration will present to state lawmakers next week – and that the goal is to launch the portal this spring.
He said the Indiana Economic Development Corp. is already working on the effort, and said the portal will provide “specific information having to do with incentives and outcomes” once businesses announce their plans to add jobs.
The move is an effort to address criticism over the performance of Indiana’s quasi-public job-creation agency under Gov. Mitch Daniels. Critics complained that the state announced companies’ plans to create thousands of jobs, as well as tax credits and other incentives that those companies would receive, without then tracking whether those deals came to fruition.
“People have a right to know,” Pence said, “and we’re going to make a renewed effort under the new leadership at the IEDC and through our new administration to advance transparency both with regard to public investments and activities, but also with regard to outcomes in economic development.”
Pence is also splitting up two jobs – executive director of the IEDC and Indiana secretary of commerce – that had been held by one individual under Daniels.
Victor Smith, an executive at CDS Engineering, which was a subsidiary of Ontario Corp., will become the commerce secretary.
He’s the son of Van Smith, a powerful Muncie businessman and Ontario Corp. chairman who is a close friend of Pence, top Republican financier and a former U.S. Chamber of Commerce chairman. But Pence said he chose the younger Smith for his experience in international business, especially in Asia.
Eric Doden, who was a principal at Domo Ventures LLC, a boutique private equity firm in Fort Wayne, Ind. and a 2011 candidate for mayor in that city, will be Pence’s IEDC executive director.
Both jobs will be cabinet-level decisions, Pence said.
The IEDC, he said, will focus on identifying companies and sectors that are “poised for growth” and spurring them along while also negotiating deals with companies that will move to Indiana. Meanwhile, he’ll tap Smith to serve as the state’s leading pitch man.
“It really is kind of a four-corners offense. We’re going to have these two individuals and these two entities really carrying Indiana’s message across the world and across the state to generate jobs and opportunities for Hoosiers,” he said.
“As I worked to recruit both of these men, I made it very clear to them that I see the missions of these two positions to be unique, but also there’s crossover,” Pence said.
He said on his first day in office, he’ll hold two meetings – one with state legislative leaders to discuss his agenda, and one with his economic development team.
“We’re going to make job creation job one on day one,” he said, repeating a familiar campaign line.