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In a Mission Shift, Indiana Economic Development Leaders Help Navigate Through a Crisis

When he accepted the position of Chief of Staff for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), Luke Bosso never thought he would become an expert in figuring out how to procure PPE (personal protective equipment) to meet the biggest health crisis Indiana and our nation have ever faced.

After spending three years as a Senior Operations Manager in Governor Eric Holcomb’s office, Bosso was looking forward to helping keep Indiana on the leading edge of economic development.  The state has been on a roll in recent years with record numbers in job commitments and some very high-profile companies moving to Indiana or expanding existing operations.  With a Top 5 Tax Climate (Tax Foundations 2020 Tax Climate Index), a Top 5 States to Do Business In (CEO Magazine) and a growing entrepreneurial sector, Indiana is increasing its stature as a great place to start or locate a business.

But when the COVID-19 virus hit in early March, Bosso’s job changed. Dramatically.

I Don’t Care What It Was Designed to Do, I Care What It Can Do!

As the severity of the crisis became clear, the IEDC was tasked with becoming the lead state entity that would coordinate private sector efforts to help mitigate the crisis.  This primarily meant finding enough PPE to allow our health care workers, first responders and other essential workers to safely do the job of saving lives.  So Bosso not only had to figure out how to procure more PPE, but sort through the many offers of people to help.  Fraud detection became a big part of his work.

Not surprisingly, a lot of individuals and Hoosier companies wanted to step up and help.  Along with his IEDC colleagues and private sector leaders across the state, Bosso helped build a playbook to acquire and distribute millions of pieces of PPE that ultimately helped avert a crisis in care for Indiana and its citizens.

Amid the crisis several companies were able to shift production from their normal products and begin production of PPE materials.  One company, GDC Inc. in Goshen, Indiana, began by offering to make 60,000 face shields.  Soon, they realized they could make 500,000 more.  Suddenly, they had a new product line, one that will undoubtedly grow as demand for domestic-made PPE equipment increases. Health care systems will likely not want to be dependent on foreign-made safety products if or when the next crisis occurs.

In fact, Bosso says that seventeen different companies in Indiana were able to shift production to PPE materials in the early days of the crisis. 

For these companies, it was a way to keep their employees on the job during the economic downturn.  Some even hired more people as the demand for their products increased.

Indiana Back on Track and Stronger

This will likely continue as Indiana and the rest of the country come out of the crisis and begin to rebuild.  Indiana is in a strong position to thrive again given its strong fiscal position and business climate as a state, but also because pre-crisis there was a healthy pipeline of companies that were looking to relocate or expand their operations in Indiana. The fact that the IEDC has put a focus on building strong, long-term relationships with these companies will help keep those deals on track.

As the world changes, Indiana is already on track to change with it.  For example, in recent years the state has been focused on advanced manufacturing, combining Indiana’s position as the leading manufacturing state with our growing technology sector. 

One big change we are likely to see will be a renewed reliance on homegrown products.  Already, there is a growing desire to bring manufacturing of many products back to the United Sates. Indiana is well suited to absorb this new focus.

Whatever the future holds, being nimble will be key.  As things get back to normal, Luke Bosso and the entire IEDC team looks forward to the next challenge. The ability to quickly shift missions from economic development to PPE procurement and now to figuring out how to continue to help grow Indiana’s economy in a post-COVID-19 crisis shows that the IEDC is up to the task of solving problems. 

Find out how one Indiana company is using its long history of innovation to emerge from the COVID crisis.