The state’s efforts to create a lot more “Companies to Watch.”
On August 27, a large audience of Hoosiers gathered in Indianapolis to honor the 2015 class of “Companies to Watch.” Presented by the State of Indiana and Indiana Office of Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and endorsed by the Edward Lowe Foundation, this designation recognizes privately held Indiana businesses that have experienced exceptional growth and are well positioned for even greater growth in the future. Eligible companies must have six to 150 full-time employees and have generated between $750,000 to $100 million in annual revenue or capital. During 2014, these chosen companies had combined revenues in excess of $196 million and created 148 new jobs.
Included among those honorees was Hudec Woodworking in Griffith, one of the top millwork providers in the country. Recently, Hudec was recognized as one of the country’s 5,000 fastest growing companies by Inc. 5000 magazine. Since 2010, annual revenue has doubled and continues to steadily grow each year.
In the terminology of economic development officials, these are “second-stage companies” that have moved beyond the “start-up” phase and are now positioning themselves for long-term success. In some ways this can be a very critical time for these companies as they evolve into organizations with new staff and larger operations. The company founders must morph into managers.
For all of these reasons, it is fitting that we salute those companies that are well prepared for continued success in the marketplace.
The future of Indiana’s economy is dependent on the “churn” of new business being started by the entrepreneurs among us. In Indiana, over 71,500 companies employ one to four people. Data from 2013 shows that 2.156 million Hoosiers worked for small businesses. The bulk of private sector job growth is in the small business sector.
To support small businesses and entrepreneurs, Governor Pence and I elevated the Office of Small Business and Entrepreneurship (OSBE) to an independent agency reporting to the Lt. Governor. A core function of the agency is operation of Indiana’s ten Regional Small Business Development Centers. To assist small business with their interaction with state and local government, we established an ombudsman position focused on minimizing red tape.
Recognizing some specialized needs, we created statewide Procurement and Technical Assistance Centers with staff to counsel small businesses through the often daunting procurement and contracting process of the federal government. This is in response to the fact that Indiana small businesses have not applied for nor received a significant share of federal contracts.
With support of the General Assembly, OSBE is now providing special services for high-growth and high-tech companies through Launch Indiana. Across the state of Indiana, large and small communities have established co-working spaces where entrepreneurs have access to office facilities and networking spaces. In Northwest Indiana this includes the Innovation Center in Hammond, the Purdue Research Park in Crown Point and Zoseco Coworking in Valparaiso. Just to the east there are the Branch in South Bend and LaunchPad in Goshen. The impact of these elements is to create a healthy ecosystem for entrepreneurship and small business development.
We have worked with the Legislature to create business-friendly tax and regulatory policies that do not burden a young business with costs and paperwork. In fact, Indiana is ranked in the Top 10 for small business tax policy by the National Federation of Independent Businesses. Our sound fiscal position and pro-growth policies have made Indiana the #1 state in the Midwest and in the top ten in the nation for doing business according to a number of national publications. And, last month we set a record for the total number of Hoosiers employed, eclipsing the previous record set in 2000.
We should lift up and congratulate Indiana small businesses. They are the biggest economic engine of our state and nation as more jobs will be created by small businesses than any other source. Because they have a vested interest in their communities, small business owners are often our strongest community leaders and supporters.
I look forward to honoring the next class of Companies to Watch and celebrating the continuing success of those companies recognized in past years.
Sue Ellspermann is Indiana’s lieutenant governor.