FILE - Mattress production

(The Center Square) – Though not without their challenges, some sectors of Indiana's economy are continuing to grow and new business investments keep coming in, despite the setbacks caused by the pandemic and government restrictions meant to slow the spread of COVID-19.

"For many Indiana communities, there seem to be extremes within the local economies: while manufacturing, particularly in durable goods, seems to be thriving, local services, hospitality, retail, restaurants, etc. are struggling and some are closing," Lee Lewellen, president and CEO of Indiana Economic Development Association, told The Center Square.

Jim Schellinger, Indiana Secretary of Commerce, told Inside Indiana Business that this has been a good year because economic development did not halt when the pandemic hit. He said there are more than 20,000 new job commitments with wages above $27 an hour. More than $2.7 billion of capital has been invested this year alone and nearly 170 new business projects are in the works.

"Indiana is continuing to see strong business expansions and relocations, many of which seem to be projects that were in process when the pandemic hit," Lewellen said. "Indiana may continue to see strong business growth and relocations because of its favorable tax climate and because businesses now seem to be willing to explore less dense communities that would pose lower risks if future health crises arise."

More than 60 companies have relocated to Indiana over the last two years, taking advantage of the low taxes, reasonable regulations, business-friendly environment and vital workforce. Of note, Mission Foods has plans for a facility in Plainfield, creating 550 jobs; Corsicana Mattress in Laporte, creating 350 jobs; and a relocation of Alliance Steel's headquarters to Gary, creating more than 100 jobs.

Lewellen said some industries are experiencing a demand for skilled workers, reporting shortages, including health-related and manufacturing sectors, while unskilled workers who were previously employed in the service, retail or hospitality industries, are seeing demand for their jobs disappear.

"The degree to which the coronavirus in managed and controlled will likely dictate how quickly Indiana’s economy can begin a solid recovery, but Indiana’s economic development professionals have continued to aggressively market the state’s assets, and strong business climate to keep Indiana at the forefront of consideration to expanding and relocating businesses," Lewellen said.