By TOM LoBIANCOINDIANAPOLIS (AP) â¿¿ Nine companies announced plans Tuesday to create up to 2,550 jobs in Indiana over the next six years, and Gov. Mitch Daniels promised more announcements in the weeks before he leaves office as he looks to end his eight years in the Statehouse on a high note. Daniels, who joined executives from the companies for the announcement at his Statehouse office, said the companies were attracted by Indiana's business-friendly environment. The companies' plans vary widely, from Angie's List's plans to hire 850 new sales and customer service representatives in Indianapolis to Mitsubishi's plans for 73 new jobs as it builds turbochargers at its Franklin plant. A pair of Arizona-based food companies â¿¿ Inventure Foods and Cafe Valley â¿¿ could add up to 480 jobs combined by 2018. The Daniels administration is offering up to $31.4 million in aid to the companies if they create the number of jobs promised and help train new workers. "I just want to repeat my thanks to these companies for choosing Indiana, for having the confidence to do so," Daniels said. Daniels, and his economic development chief, Dan Hasler, touted the state's ability to add private-sector jobs at a greater rate than the national average. But the state's unemployment rate has hovered around 8 percent for the last few months, similar to the national average. The Republican governor attributed that apparent disparity to the fact that it tracks people actively seeking work, not those who have "dropped out" of the workforce. "Hoosiers are less discouraged. More people look for work here than in other states where the unemployment rate looks a little lower than it really is," he said. Tuesday's announcement came as Michigan lawmakers put their state on course to approve right-to-work legislation barring unions from collecting mandatory fees from workers. Michigan Republicans, including Gov. Rick Snyder, have used Indiana as a reason to pass the law, claiming Indiana is swiping jobs because of its right-to-work law.
Although evidence of the law's impact in Indiana has been hard to come by since Daniels signed it into law in February, he said many of the new companies have mentioned it."I don't know that I can correlate the surge in new interest in new deals in the last six months necessarily with that," he said. "It obviously didn't hurt." Daniels says more jobs announcements are likely before he leaves office next month.