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Doden joining Pence Cabinet in jobs post

– Fort Wayne businessman Eric Doden will help lead Indiana’s job creation efforts after being tapped Thursday as CEO of the Indiana Economic Development Corp.

Gov.-elect Mike Pence also named Victor Smith, a Hoosier native, as Indiana’s secretary of commerce.

Pence called his new jobs team “rising stars” and said they will help ensure Indiana’s business climate is one in which individuals and businesses can invest capital in ways that create opportunities for Hoosiers.

He specifically said Doden “brings an incredible reputation for integrity, business accomplishment and a record of effective management and marketing.”

Doden, 42, most recently worked as a principal for Domo Ventures LLC, a boutique private equity firm in Fort Wayne. Before that, he served as director of investments for Ambassador Enterprises where he developed and executed strategic investment plans. He has more than 15 years of management and economic development experience.

In 2011, he unsuccessfully ran for Fort Wayne mayor on the Republican ticket. His mayoral campaign also donated $2,000 to Pence’s campaign that year.

“I got a phone call from the governor-elect and he asked to meet with me. I was impressed with his vision,” Doden said. “It’s a real privilege and honor to be promoting Indiana for jobs.”

Pence is going back to a two-person economic development team, both Cabinet-level positions. When Gov. Mitch Daniels created the IEDC in 2005, he had one person in charge of IEDC and named Fort Wayne’s Pat Miller as the state’s first commerce secretary.

Miller left in 2006, and since then, the job duties have been combined into one position.

Pence said Smith will use his West Coast and international ties to promote Indiana across the country and around the world.

The IEDC generally provides incentive packages to businesses for creating jobs in Indiana. It has recently come under fire for not being more transparent on the number of jobs promised compared to those that actually materialize.

Pence said staff members are already working on a transparency portal that will more clearly disclose incentives and outcomes.

He also noted Doden will focus on mid-size Indiana companies poised for growth, as well as business clusters where there is opportunity.

“As I worked to recruit both of these men, I made it very clear to them that I see the missions of these two positions to be unique, but also there’s crossover,” Pence said.

Also Thursday, Pence named Dr. William VanNess as state health commissioner and Sean Keefer as commissioner of labor.

Bruce Lemmon was reappointed as commissioner of the Indiana Department of Correction.

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