The Hoosier State’s Long History in Manufacturing

This is the first in a series of profiles highlighting the state manufacturing associations LIFT has partnered with to support advanced manufacturing in the Midwest region

By the time Henry Ford launched the Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Mich. in 1903, the Indiana Manufacturers Association (IMA) was already two years old and working to support manufacturing across the Hoosier state.

Formed in 1901 to help in bringing the transcontinental railroad across Indiana, the IMA is the second oldest manufacturing association in the country, just behind Illinois.

IIB1TwitterIt’s mission, for over 100 years, has been to advocate for a business climate that creates, protects and promotes quality manufacturing jobs in Indiana.

Recently, the IMA along with the state manufacturing associations in Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky, have partnered with LIFT as an extension of the industry’s voice in their states – especially critical in Indiana whose economy relies heavily on manufacturing.

“We are the most manufacturing intensive state in the country,” said Brian Burton, president and CEO, IMA. “Nearly 30 percent of the GDP (gross domestic product) in the state is in manufacturing, which is the most of any state, and nearly one-fifth of Hoosiers work in manufacturing.”

Today, Indiana has 522,000 direct manufacturing jobs, with the number one sector being transportation equipment, including automobile manufacturers and suppliers, with 126,000 workers. The state is also home to three international parts, is the number one manufacturers of recreational vehicles in the world, and is a leader in medical device manufacturing.

IMG_1540The metalworking industry is certainly part of Indiana’s manufacturing heritage as well. According to Burton, the state is home of some of the largest steel producers in the world, with 46 miles of steel production in the northwest part of the state alone.

“We have a long history in in manufacturing,” Burton continued. “We are certainly a metals state and that’s why LIFT is so important.

“A lot of that metal is shipped out around the world. The metals industry here is so important, from steel, aluminum, coatings, and all that technology that goes with the metals industry.”

Like most in the industry, part of the mission of the IMA is to help fill the pipeline of workers with skilled employees to keep up with the demand for talent by the state’s manufacturers.

“That’s why it is important to us to work with LIFT in developing the new technology and workforce for tomorrow,” said Burton.

After visiting the LIFT headquarters in Detroit earlier this year, Burton had a better idea of what the institute’s role in manufacturing is beyond workforce development.

“Now we really understand the physical capability and investment going on there and how companies can take advantage of if to meet their research and development needs,” he said.

Going forward, Burton said he hopes the association can help inform its members about LIFT and the R&D capabilities housed here.

“In the world of programs like LIFT, there is always the risk of confusion and not knowing what capabilities are out there,” he said. “That is why we exist – to be their voice and provide information to help them grow.”

For more on the Indiana Manufacturers Association, visit