News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Opinion

January 28, 2014

EDITORIAL: Promote state, cut the posturing

Too much arrogance in Indiana marketing effort in New York

TERRE HAUTE — Hoosiers should be proud of their state, and they shouldn’t to be shy about promoting Indiana’s assets.

But Gov. Mike Pence and his administration may have gone a bit too far when they put the state front and center in an advertisement in Sunday’s New York Times inviting businesses to actually flee New York in favor of Indiana.

The ad states, “New York: If you can make it there, you can make a lot more of it here.”

Pence’s message to the New York masses goes like this: “Business leaders looking to chart their course in pursuit of the American dream will always find a home here in Indiana. With one of the fastest growing economies in the nation, the Hoosier heartland is ripe territory for businesses of all backgrounds and industries. Indiana provides a stable business environment, with its triple-A credit ranking, balanced budgets and the recent passage of the largest tax cut in our history.”

But Pence doesn’t stop there. He should have.

“Meanwhile, New York is home to taxes that are higher than the Empire State Building,” Pence says. “Its cost of doing business is restrictive, while ours empowers business growth. As a state that works for business, Indiana and its people welcome you here, with a dose of Midwestern values and Hoosier hospitality.”

The ad is part of the Indiana Economic Development Corp.’s marketing campaign, “A State That Works.”

Former Gov. Mitch Daniels’ administration started this campaign-style targeting of other states when it singled out Illinois at the height of our neighbor’s state government fiscal problems. We didn’t like it then. And we don’t like it now. This compulsion to tout our own state by attempting to demean other states reeks of, well, misplaced arrogance.

Brian Howey, a columnist who writes about Indiana politics, wrote about the ad campaign targeting New York in his daily email update. He questioned the wisdom of the strategy by pointing out obvious flaws.

“It comes as the state is roiled in a debate over gay marriage, one in which officials at Lilly, Cummins and the Indy Chamber of Commerce have warned that even the debate will keep coveted employees and tolerant firms from considering working in Indiana,” Howey writes. “… It’s as if the State of Indiana is telling New York firms, ‘Come to Indiana. Just leave your gay employees in the Empire State. They really won’t be as welcome here as straight people.’”

Every state has assets and liabilities. Indiana needs to be asking itself if it really wants to be tweaking others in this way? A little more professionalism and a little less political posturing might go a long way.

 

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