Ken de la Bastide column: Is politics behind state economic development decisions | Opinion

Those in political power determine how funds are to be spent and what rules will be established.

Since 2005, the Indiana Republican Party has controlled the governor’s office and both chambers of the Indiana General Assembly.

Under the current political landscape in Indiana, the chances of a Democrat being elected governor in 2024 and the party gaining a majority in either the House or Senate are basically slim to none.

During an appearance at the Madison County Tea Party this past week, Republican Rob Jozwiak, who is running for mayor of Anderson, made an interesting observation.

He hinted that economic development investment in Indiana communities is being intentionally directed to cities with Republican mayors.

Jozwiak contends that the majority members of the Indiana legislature and the resident of the governor’s mansion are directing the Indiana Economic Development Corp. to entice investment in certain communities to benefit GOP mayors.

It raises some interesting questions, since the IEDC was organized as a public/private partnership to encourage economic growth throughout Indiana.

So one has to ask: Is the IEDC purposely not recommending communities with a Democrat mayor as a place for a potential investment?

In Anderson, the economic development department has been working on leads to attract new investment. The project board in the department’s office is covered with development prospects.

If the IEDC is making decisions based on the political climate in a particular community, it would in theory leave out of the conversations Indianapolis and some of Indiana’s other large cities.

Another question: If politics is a contributing factor to the decision-making process, why has no investment been brought to Alexandria, which has a Republican mayor?

Democrats occupy the mayor’s chair in both Anderson and Elwood and both have seen investment in the past year.

It should also be noted that Republicans have dominated Madison County government for many years, but no investments have been steered into the county by the IEDC.

Madison County is also represented in the Indiana General Assembly by Republicans, which has not brought developers knocking on the county’s door in recent years.

When companies are looking for a potential site, they’re looking at the cost of land, access to local utilities, transportation and the available workforce.

The IEDC shouldn’t be playing politics when it comes to investment. Every Indiana community should get an equal opportunity, regardless of political make-up.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.

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