Governor finally responds to questions about Indiana jobs

Gov. Daniels responds to WTHR's investigation showing thousands of alleged Indiana jobs don't exist.
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An Eyewitness News investigation shows thousands of Indiana jobs claimed by the state simply don't exist.

Gov. Mitch Daniels is now talking about that investigation and, based on the governor's comments, he is not impressed.

"You seem to have a blindingly clear view of what is perfectly obvious," he said.

The governor addressed Indiana job numbers just hours after 13 Investigates showed up to 40% of jobs already promoted by the governor have not turned to reality. For three weeks, the governor declined WTHR's requests to discuss the issue. That changed Tuesday afternoon at the statehouse, when investigative reporter Bob Segall asked the governor to respond to 13 Investigates' findings during a question-and-answer session for the media.

"You seem to have discovered the obvious, namely that none of these jobs were ever scheduled to happen in the first year. Secondly, that some of them in a recession don't happen," Gov. Daniels replied.

The 6-month Eyewitness News investigation did not focus on any new jobs announced during the past year. Instead, WTHR's statewide job analysis included only jobs announced by the state in 2006, 2007 and 2008. 13 Investigates examined what the Indiana Economic Development Corporation calls "Indiana Economic Successes" to determine if the projects were on track and if the companies listed as successes actually hired new workers.

That's when WTHR discovered empty fields and deserted factories across the state where state leaders claim there are supposed to be new jobs. 13 Investigates found job commitments that fell through years ago are still being counted in the state's job numbers. Those broken job commitments show up in state performance reports as if they were real jobs when, in fact, they are not.

"A commitment is not a reality. A commitment is a statement of hope and aspiration," explained Morton Marcus, a business professor and former director of the Indiana Business Research Center at Indiana University. "We need to be founded in reality and that's the issue. "How many jobs are actually being created? Where are the jobs? Where is the reality as opposed to the hopes?"

Numbers Don't Match

Tuesday afternoon, the governor said almost all of the state's job commitments have turned into jobs.

"We audit all the time. We're getting about 92% compliance and fulfillment of the jobs that are committed," said the governor.

But that figure is too high, according to Mitch Roob, appointed by the governor to be director of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.

"We believe about 87% have actually or are in the process of coming to realization," Roob told WTHR.

Research by Eyewitness News shows the state's actual job realization number is likely closer to 60% -- a huge difference from the job statistics now being circulated by the governor and IEDC.

"We think our numbers are correct. Obviously you think your numbers are correct. Clearly it's not 100%. Clearly it's not 50%," Roob said, adding that IEDC's realization numbers may not be accurate because IEDC does not seek performance information on all companies it lists as successes.

"Unless you're receiving a state tax dollar [IEDC incentives], we have no business being in your business," Roob explained. "We have no way of tracking whether or not you have or have not created that number of jobs."

Still No Specifics

To help clarify how many job commitments have resulted in actual jobs, WTHR asked the governor if the state would release specific information to show which job commitments have been fulfilled and which ones have not, along with the number of jobs each company has created in Indiana.

"The IEDC board meetings are public, and plenty of enterprising reporters choose to attend them and those numbers are available there," Gov. Daniels replied.

His statement contradicts what Roob told 13 Investigates a week ago when WTHR asked for the same information.

"Most of what IEDC has is sheltered from public disclosure for competitive reasons," Roob explained. "That is a competitive weapon that companies believe can be used against them by their competitors… the confidentiality we promise to companies that do business in Indiana is very important to us. That is confidential information."

Before ending his afternoon press conference, Gov. Daniels added another insight into Indiana job numbers. "In a recession, a lot of businesses have to change their plans," he said.

Clearly that's happened, as evidenced by the findings of WTHR's investigation. The question now … will the state's future job numbers accurately reflect those changes?