Indiana Gov. Mike Pence Proposes $1B for Innovation, Entrepreneurship

Indiana Governor Mike Pence on Thursday unveiled plans to invest $1 billion in Hoosier innovation and entrepreneurship over 10 years, in what he calls a “third century” strategy for growth. Indiana is celebrating its bicentennial this year.

Pence, who also is considered a leading candidate for Donald Trump’s vice presidential pick, announced the ambitious initiative during the second day of Venture Club of Indiana’s Innovation Showcase. Officials have been working on the plan for months, he said.

Since Pence took office in 2012, the Indiana Economic Development Corp. has worked with 446 companies on expansions or relocations expected to result in almost $7 billion in capital projects and more than 37,000 jobs. But he said there’s still room to improve.

“New businesses are not starting in the Hoosier state as often as we want them to,” Pence said, citing Kauffman Foundation rankings that listed Indiana 44th among its peers for startup activity.

Pence, who is running for re-election unless he joins Trump’s ticket, said he plans to ask the Indiana General Assembly to commit to continue providing $30 million annually to the state’s 21Fund, which makes investments in (and grants to) high-potential companies.

He also plans to seek an additional $10 million a year to advance entrepreneurship education programs in collaboration with the state’s higher education and research institutions. The education partners would be required to provide matching funds.

The governor also said he will ask legislators to allow the existing venture capital investment tax credit to be utilized by out-of-state investors, potentially attracting another $10 million a year.

And Pence said he would “direct and work with” the Indiana Public Retirement System (INPRS) to invest $50 million a year in early stage and mid-market Indiana companies that are creating jobs here. The retirement system has $30 billion of investment capital that it deploys worldwide.

In the last 10 years, INPRS has invested about $350 million in Indiana firms, Executive Director Steve Russo said. That activity leveraged an additional $500 million in private investment, he said.

Pence said the goal is for “IN” to be more than the state’s postal abbreviation.

“We want ‘IN’ to be synonymous with innovation and entrepreneurship,” he said.

Although the state already is a major player in the manufacturing, agriculture, and logistics industries, among others, Pence said he wants to harken back to the “golden age” 100 years ago when entrepreneurs like Col. Eli Lilly and Madame C.J. Walker were making waves.

“Everyone knows we make things, grow things, and move things,” the governor said, “and once again Indiana will be known as a place where we invent things.”

Pence chose the right venue for the announcement, given the Innovation Showcase audience’s enthusiastic response.

“As an investor and former entrepreneur, it makes me want to start another business,” speaker Bill Godfrey said during a Q&A presentation afterward. Godfrey, who now manages 4G Ventures’ investment fund, co-founded Indianapolis software firm Aprimo in 1998 and sold it to Teradata for $525 million in 2011.

Andrea Muirragui Davis is a freelance writer and editor based in Fishers, Indiana. Follow @

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