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THOMPSON: Indy upping wages through collaboration

November 12, 2016

viewpoint-thompson-johnI’ve learned a few things through my career here in Indiana. Between my 17-year run at Mays Chemical in Indianapolis and my experiences at the four local companies I run today, my favorite lesson has been the unstoppable power of collaboration.

Across Indiana, community, industry, business and state leaders are coming together to make the state an even better place to live, work and play. By working to advance job creation, community development and innovation, Indiana is now home to one of the strongest economies in the nation, where businesses are adding a record number of jobs and putting more money in the pockets of Indiana workers.

Since 2009, businesses have added 331,500 jobs for Indiana workers, while the state’s unemployment rate has experienced the fourth-largest drop in the nation. Average wages for Hoosiers have increased 25 percent since 2005, growing from $35,400 to $44,116 in 2015. Meanwhile, personal income in Indiana had the 11th-fastest rate of growth between the first two quarters of this year, with Indiana’s income growth rate outpacing the nation’s.

In my role serving on the board of the Indiana Economic Development Corp., I’m proud of the state’s focus on increasing the quality of Indiana jobs. We are seeing growth in new industries like aviation and aerospace, life sciences and technology that traditionally offer high-skill, high-wage jobs, while jobs committed to IEDC continue to boast wages above the state average. Last year, businesses committed to add 26,555 jobs with average salaries topping $51,700.

When you throw in Indiana’s affordable cost of living, the real spending value of an Indiana paycheck goes even further. According to the Tax Foundation, $100 will get you $109 in Indiana.

As Indiana’s economy continues to grow, we are implementing new initiatives to meet challenges and ensure long-term job creation and wage growth. Through a focus on workforce development, educators and business leaders are coming together to help Indiana’s hardworking citizens earn certifications for jobs in high-skill, in-demand industries. That’s while statewide collaborative efforts like the Indiana Regional Cities Initiative and the $1 Billion Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative, for example, are driving momentum forward to ensure we have talented people and companies for Indiana’s third century.

In 1984, I moved to Indiana to work for the fast-growing Mays Chemical Co., and planned to return to New York City after three years to start a business. I had many career and entrepreneurial options around the world but chose to settle in Indiana, raise my family and start my businesses.

Today, I am proud to call myself an adopted Hoosier, and through the Regional Cities Initiative, we will attract even more talent to the state. By working across city and county lines, Hoosiers are coming together to develop and implement a long-term vision that will transform their regions into nationally recognized destinations to live, work and play.

Indiana’s $1 Billion Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative is following a complementary path. Through collaboration with communities, universities and industry, we will create entrepreneurial cultures and increase resources for thought leaders, making Indiana the best place to start a business, grow a business, and get a job.

This is an exciting time to live and work in Indiana because everyone is at the table, working toward a common goal. We are charting the right path forward, and together we can build on Indiana’s economic momentum, propelling job creation and wage growth forward to ensure quality employment for all Hoosiers.•

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Thompson is chairman and CEO of Thompson Distribution Co.
 

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