Lawrance returns to Chamber, to push for more road funding

Mark Lawrance is back at his old workplace again.

The longtime Indiana Chamber of Commerce executive who recently resigned after a two-year stint as director of the Indiana University Public Policy Institute, is back in a new role: vice president of engagement and innovation policy.

Lawrance, 61, returned to the Chamber this week and said he came back because he got the opportunity to design his job, to "pick and choose many of the areas that I’m very passionate about and want to improve.”

Lawrance spent 14 years at the Chamber before heading to the Public Policy Institute in 2014. In his previous Chamber stint, he oversaw the Indiana Chamber Foundation, developed long-term economic development plans and led numerous studies on issues from workforce development to government efficiency.

One big area he'll tackle this time around will be transportation and infrastructure funding. Lawrance said he'll advocate at the Statehouse for a long-term solution in next year’s budget-making session.

This year, the Indiana Chamber supported plans by House Republicans to raise cigarette and gas taxes to finance infrastructure improvements. But in an election year, the proposals proved to be too politically difficult to pass.

Instead, the approved plan will funnel $230 million in funding for state roads and bridges for two years, along with $580 million for local projects.

“Hoosiers observe our roads are not as good as they need to be,” Lawrance said. The legislature’s 2016 solution “was not the long-term step that we believe needs to be taken for our roads so they are truly superior infrastructure."

He will also focus on shaping up and implementing the chamber’s “Vision 2025 plan,” which he worked on previously.

“Any good plan needs to be revised every few years,” Lawrance said.

Lawrance left the IU institute in late March, saying he had the “opportunity to get the ideal job for this stage of my life."

Before coming to the Indiana Chamber, he was a vice president of the MCL restaurant chain.

“We’re pleased to welcome Mark back to the Indiana Chamber,” Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar said in a written statement. “His experience, relationships and knowledge about what it takes for Indiana to move forward are obvious assets that will benefit both our members and partners."

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