Sunday, February 7, 2016

Hold state economic agency accountable

Posted on Dec. 27, 2012 at 12:00 a.m.

It’s basic, really. If a state agency claims that it has helped create thousands of jobs — many in Elkhart County — it should be able to document those jobs.

But that’s not the case in Indiana. Not for the Indiana Economic Development Corp.

Not yet, anyway.

One of Gov. Mitch Daniels’ first acts was creation of the IEDC, which states that it created more than 100,000 jobs between 2005 and 2010. WTHR-TV looked into the numbers and found that up to 40 percent of those jobs never existed.

Which ones? IEDC officials won’t say. No law forces the agency to make its numbers public.

Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, believes that needs to change. Delph filed SB 162, which requires companies receiving state economic aid to submit detailed annual compliance reports to the IEDC — including job and investment figures.

Those numbers would then become available to the public.

IEDC officials believe that releasing business details will drive companies away, WTHR reported. Delph doesn’t buy it.

For good reason. It’s our tax money.

A company doing business with an incompetent or corrupt state agency stands to lose everything, including its reputation. By releasing detailed compliance reports, the IEDC can document its performance, build a national reputation and become even more effective at attracting new businesses to Indiana.

Delph believes that the IEDC intentionally misled the public about the number of jobs it created. Let’s find out.

Let’s pass SB 162 and find out how effective the Indiana Economic Development Corp. has been at attracting jobs. Then let’s hold it accountable.

Sound business policy — it’s the least we should expect from a state agency using our tax dollars to recruit new businesses.