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Matt Hunckler

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Why 5 Indiana Entrepreneurs Actually Have a Voice at the White House

Posted: 02/14/2013 12:17 pm

Indiana isn't usually included in the talent search when recruiting entrepreneurship poster boys. But last week, I was lucky enough to represent my home state at the White House as I told the entrepreneurship story that few have heard.

Indiana has a rich story of startups and innovation, with the latest chapters include the most interesting characters. Joining me to co-present was Mike Coffey, a recent addition our state's business tapestry. He left his home and first business in California to make his entrepreneurial home in Indiana, and for good reason.

The numbers don't lie.

Indiana's government is one of the few state governments in the country that is operating with a surplus -- 100 percent in the black. But the business savvy isn't limited to the statehouse. With recent successful IPOs from Indiana tech companies like Exact Target and Angie's List, many other companies are choosing the Hoosier State for headquarter and secondary offices.

It's no wonder Kiplinger names Indiana's capital as one of the 10 best cities in the country to start a business. The business growth is nurtured by the deep well of young talent graduating from some of the best universities in the world.

U.S. News and World Report rated Indiana-based Rose-Hulman #1 among colleges that offer the bachelor's or master's degree as their top degree in engineering. Purdue University's research park is the largest university-affiliated incubation complex in the country. At the same time, rival school Indiana University is consistently ranked as the best School for Entrepreneurship among public universities. I hear the basketball team isn't too shabby, either.

Coffey and I were joined at the podium by three other Indiana software entrepreneurs as we presented why there's more to Indiana than the annual Indianapolis 500 race and last year's Super Bowl that earned rave reviews (that's right, no blackouts).

The room was wall to wall with other entrepreneurial leaders from around the country including U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park, SBA Administrator Karen G. Mills, and Case Foundation CEO Jean Case. But this meeting would have never manifested if not for one key character in this story.

That person is Steve Case, co-founder of media goliath AOL and chairman of the Startup America Partnership. Thanks to Case and the Startup America initiative, 11 startup regions participated in yesterday's high-level discussion at the White House. For the past two years, this organization has given states across the country a voice. That message is clear.

Entrepreneurial energy in America is not limited to the coasts and there is enthusiasm to support growing startups.

Steve Case was able to join us toward the end of the meeting (he had been preoccupied meeting with President Obama to discuss immigration reform). Case provided the closing remarks that perfectly captured the level of priority the White House places on our country's entrepreneurs.

"I was sure to remind the president for his State of the Union," said Case. "Don't forget this nation's awesome startups."

This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and Startup America, in recognition of the latter's two-year anniversary. Startup America's regional leaders met with White House officials on February 5th to discuss fostering startup ecosystems throughout the country. To read all the posts in the series, click here.

 
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