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McDONALD & SOARDS: Securing a vision for state’s tech future

January 21, 2017

viewpoint-mcdonald-soards-2upIndiana lawmakers and business and community leaders have done an excellent job enhancing our economic climate and making our state one of the leading locations for companies and jobs. The mission, and we’re confident all Hoosiers will accept it, is to act today to help ensure similar success for generations to come.

Let’s borrow the words of others to help shape the job in front of us.

“The future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious.” —John Sculley, businessman, entrepreneur and investor

“To grasp and hold a vision, that is the very essence of successful leadership—not only on the movie set where I learned it, but everywhere.” —Ronald Reagan, former president

“Destiny is not a matter of chance, but of choice. Not something to wish for, but to attain.” —William Jennings Bryan, three-time presidential candidate

“I can teach anybody how to get what they want out of life. The problem is that I can’t find anybody who can tell me what they want.” —Mark Twain, author

What we want is to continue the evolution of our economy over 200 years—from leadership in agriculture and manufacturing to logistics and life sciences—to today’s technologies that will partner with those industries and many more.

What do we need to succeed? Talent, capital and an ecosystem that builds upon itself.

Talent: Indiana must retain, attract and grow the available talent for innovation-based businesses. Talent is the number one factor in company decisions to expand, relocate and, most important, create new jobs. We must retrain displaced workers and keep more of the talented individuals who graduate from our universities.

Capital: It takes money to make money. Expanding and making transferable Indiana’s venture capital investment tax credit is a strong initial step. As Indiana’s own private venture capital base continues to mature, providing support for entrepreneurs to obtain financing from venture-rich communities will accelerate the growth of those companies and the state.

Ecosystem: Northern California became what it is today in the tech/entrepreneurial world due to efforts dating back to 1939 and the Hewlett Packard Garage, the official birthplace of Silicon Valley.

Indiana is building its own ecosystem. Each tech-company sale puts all the key ingredients back into play for further growth. As the ecosystem matures and more of the initial financing comes from within the state, the proceeds and future rewards will be even more Indiana-focused.

Our evolution will be accelerated by leading the way in the internet of things. Businesses in the IoT space, both those operating today and others still to come, are providing the connectivity and analysis that will shape our lives in the years ahead. IoT will complement our existing business strengths and change the way we work, live and play.

Being engaged is mandatory, not optional. Leading—seeing possibilities before they become obvious, grasping and holding a vision—will produce a more prosperous Indiana.

One way of quickening the pace is to enhance open data capabilities. Discovering new information is less of a challenge than coordinating the vast amounts of data already available and using it to enhance both entrepreneurial business development and public-sector decision-making and policies.

As Sculley, Reagan, Bryan, Twain and others have articulated, it just takes clear vision and dynamic leadership to help control our own destiny. Let’s go!•

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McDonald and Soards are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the Indiana Technology & Innovation Council policy committee.
 

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