The Economic Department of French Embassy in the U.S. had the pleasure of interviewing Jim Schellinger, the Secretary of Commerce for the State of Indiana, to get his outlook on the France-Indiana economic relationship.
Q: How would you assess the importance of the Indiana-France economic links?
A: Indiana is truly a global economy. We are proud to support 950 foreign-owned business establishments that not only support thousands of quality jobs, but are vital to the strength and diversity of our economy and our communities.
Europe, in particular, accounts for nearly 50 percent of Indiana’s international business community, and we’re proud to count France as one of our largest partners. Forty-nine French companies, including Michelin, Bolloré, Faurecia, Valeo and Safran, call Indiana home, together supporting more than 28,600 careers for Indiana residents. Moreover, France is Indiana’s largest European and fifth-largest global export destination, purchasing $1.6 billion of Indiana-made goods and providing critical support to businesses of all sizes across a number of industries.
And it’s important to note – this partnership extends in both directions. A number of Indiana-headquartered companies, like Berry Global, Haynes International and Samtec, support operations and facilities in France.
Q: What have been the recent developments in this relationship?
A: The connections between Indiana and France have grown significantly in recent years. Under the leadership of Governor Eric J. Holcomb, we’re more focused than ever before on strengthening the state’s international partnerships and increasing our global connectivity.
During my tenure as Secretary of Commerce, I’ve traveled to France four times – three times joined by the Governor – to cultivate this friendship. While there, we met with business executives of both Indiana and French companies to discuss opportunities for growth, with government officials to strengthen transatlantic relationships, and with associations and chambers like MEDEF and Ifri and their members to share best practices in business policy and identify new, mutually-beneficial partnerships.
One such partnership opportunity we’ve identified through these discussions is with the Pays de la Loire region. We share a strong tradition of automotive racing, which has helped shape our present economies and communities. Through a unique bilateral exchange, we led an Indiana delegation to the 24 Hours of Le Mans race and hosted a delegation from Pays de la Loire at this year’s Indianapolis 500 – the greatest spectacle in racing.
We were also fortunate to be in France in May 2018 to celebrate Indiana’s first, year-round, nonstop transatlantic flight – a significant milestone for our state and one that we’re proud to share with France. The new route from Delta Air Lines, and its joint venture partners Air France/KLM, provides direct service between Indianapolis International Airport and Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, linking our two communities like never before. And now is the time to take advantage of this convenient flight into the No. 1 ranked airport in North America. Whether it’s for business or pleasure, our Capital City is now easier to access and offers a flourishing culinary scene, thriving cultural institutions, as well as unique and diverse neighborhoods and so much more. We invite you to visit our state and witness our legendary hospitality for yourself.
Q: What does Indiana have to offer to French companies looking to expand in the US market?
A: Indiana is laser-focused on creating an environment that allows job creators to thrive. Our pro-growth business climate continues to attract investment and new job opportunities from companies across the U.S. and around the world, and we consistently rank best in the Midwest and top five in the nation for doing business. In addition to our central location, Indiana offers minimal regulations, low costs and reduced taxes. We have a balanced budget and strong fiscal reserve, enabling us to maintain a stable and predictable environment while investing in our future.
We’re committed to cultivating a strong economy that creates and attracts the jobs of tomorrow. That’s why we’re making strategic investments in advancing and diversifying our economy, cultivating entrepreneurship, encouraging innovation and R&D, propelling technology commercialization, and creating unique, public-private partnerships to drive industry growth in high-demand, high-growth sectors, such as life sciences, technology, agbiosciences, and aerospace and defense. And, to ensure our workforce is prepared to support these industries, we’re dedicating more resources to education at all levels and rolling out new programs to help current workers skill-up.
We’re working to increase and enhance connectivity within our communities, between counties, across the state and around the world, whether that’s by roads and bridges, trails, waterways, air service or fiber. And, perhaps most importantly, we’re investing in the culture, vitality and livability of our communities for today’s residents and for future generations to come. By encouraging regional collaboration and investment in quality of place, we’re working to retain and attract top talent by ensuring that Indiana is indeed the best place to live, work and play.
In Indiana, we know that businesses are the state’s greatest asset, and we’re committed to forging meaningful, long-term relationships with leaders in the private sector to help shape Indiana’s future. That’s what has made us so successful, and that’s what will ensure our shared growth for many years to come. Together, in Indiana, we can help take your business to the next level.