GIGERICH: Education, economy are closely tied

Larry Gigerich
October 23, 2010
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Larry GigerichTen years into the 21st century, most people understand that a strong education system is vital to ensuring long-term economic development success. Where things become fuzzy is in defining what comprises a strong education system and, more important, the required outcomes of that system.

In the past, a successful education system was tied to graduating students from high school and preparing them to work in a manufacturing or agricultural business setting. In Indiana, many people who grew up with my parents and almost everyone who grew up with my grandparents graduated from high school (if they made it that far) and went straight into the work force. This is one of the key reasons higher education was not valued as highly in Indiana as it should have been. Now, 30 years later, because of the shift away from manufacturing and agriculture and toward emerging industries, Indiana must adjust its focus to ensure the future needs of companies are met. This will allow the state to continue capturing economic development projects over the long term.

So, how does Indiana need to evolve to meet the needs of the work force of the present and future? To begin, there must be an expectation by all Hoosiers that the minimum acceptable level of education achievement in the state be a two-year associate’s degree. While it can be argued that the ultimate goal for everyone in the state should be a four-year bachelor’s degree, there is a need for people with two-year degrees.

In addition, Indiana’s educational systems must look for ways to help Hoosiers retrain and “re-career” for jobs. Take the closing of the General Motors metal-stamping plant in Indianapolis; no longer will people be able to go from high school into a $30-per-hour job, and the people losing their jobs at this facility will not be able to find new manufacturing jobs paying $30 per hour in the Indianapolis area.

How do we get to where we need to be? It starts with the K-12 education system and a need for Hoosiers to recognize that all K-12 schools in Indiana (public and private) need to improve. There is a notion in our country that support for education is either public or private. At best this is sad; at worst it is offensive. Given the need to strengthen our place in the economy, we need all of our schools to devote more resources to the classroom, reward teacher performance and teach the curriculum necessary to prepare every student to continue their education beyond high school.

Moreover, all parents must have the freedom to choose what is best for their children, be it public, charter, alternative or private school. No one knows better what a child needs than the parent. Elected officials and government bureaucrats should not tell parents what is best for their children.

The communities, states and countries performing the best in educational achievement are typically those with the highest income levels and the best quality of life. To see the effects of lower educational achievement levels in our country, consider the earning potential of people who at a minimum do not possess an associate’s degree. Let there be no mistake: we live and work in a global economy. We must make sure that everyone is educated for a global economy. With a clear understanding of the key factors affecting educational achievement and a sound plan to improve educational attainment levels, Indiana can be successful in the 21st century and beyond.•


Gigerich is managing director of Ginovus, an Indianapolis-based provider of national site selection, public-policy development, community comparative analysis and economic development incentive procurement and management.


  • Education & Employing our graduates
    Mr. Gigerich is ignoring the flight of our graduates to states with jobs befitting their qualifications. Indiana is not attracting the businesses that will match the pay in other states.

    Our governor seems to believe Indiana is contained within a band starting 25 miles south of Indianapolis and extending north. He brings expansion and new businesses to that area while the southern area forgotten.

    A third of pupils are not capable of college work, but would do well in the trades. They should get real encouragement by school superintendents, instead of the grudgingly offered courses in an isolated corner of, with no public recognition of their accomplishments.

    Not everyone needs a broad college experience. A focused, concentrated suite of courses related to their primary employment interest should be formulated and offered to all who are interested. If they decide later, as they mature, to pursue a college degree, they will be quite capable of doing so.

    Administrators, and educators in general, live in an insular society and believe everyone wants to be like them. They forget it is the masses, who turn the wheels that make the economy run, also pay their salaries through TAXES on their earnings.

    Fit the education to the needs and capabilities of the students. College does not fit all. Everyone can't sit in an office, in front of a computer. Someone has to do the "hands-on" work of building homes, highways, repairing water systems, engines, etc..

    Until Indiana builds employment opportunities for degree-holders or those trained to do the physical work that support them, our biggest service will be exporting smart, hardworking twenty-somethings to other states.

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  1. Cramer agrees...says don't buy it and sell it if you own it! Their "pay to play" cost is this issue. As long as they charge customers, they never will attain the critical mass needed to be a successful on company...Jim Cramer quote.

  2. My responses to some of the comments would include the following: 1. Our offer which included the forgiveness of debt (this is an immediate forgiveness and is not "spread over many years")represents debt that due to a reduction of interest rates in the economy arguably represents consideration together with the cash component of our offer that exceeds the $2.1 million apparently offered by another party. 2. The previous $2.1 million cash offer that was turned down by the CRC would have netted the CRC substantially less than $2.1 million. As a result even in hindsight the CRC was wise in turning down that offer. 3. With regard to "concerned Carmelite's" discussion of the previous financing Pedcor gave up $16.5 million in City debt in addition to the conveyance of the garage (appraised at $13 million)in exchange for the $22.5 million cash and debt obligations. The local media never discussed the $16.5 million in debt that we gave up which would show that we gave $29.5 million in value for the $23.5 million. 4.Pedcor would have been much happier if Brian was still operating his Deli and only made this offer as we believe that we can redevelop the building into something that will be better for the City and City Center where both Pedcor the citizens of Carmel have a large investment. Bruce Cordingley, President, Pedcor

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  4. WGN actually is two channels: 1. WGN Chicago, seen only in Chicago (and parts of Canada) - this station is one of the flagship CW affiliates. 2. WGN America - a nationwide cable channel that doesn't carry any CW programming, and doesn't have local affiliates. (In addition, as WGN is owned by Tribune, just like WTTV, WTTK, and WXIN, I can't imagine they would do anything to help WISH.) In Indianapolis, CW programming is already seen on WTTV 4 and WTTK 29, and when CBS takes over those stations' main channels, the CW will move to a sub channel, such as 4.2 or 4.3 and 29.2 or 29.3. TBS is only a cable channel these days and does not affiliate with local stations. WISH could move the MyNetwork affiliation from WNDY 23 to WISH 8, but I am beginning to think they may prefer to put together their own lineup of syndicated programming instead. While much of it would be "reruns" from broadcast or cable, that's pretty much what the MyNetwork does these days anyway. So since WISH has the choice, they may want to customize their lineup by choosing programs that they feel will garner better ratings in this market.

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