Chamber: Indiana not improving as quickly as other states

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A new report from the Indiana Chamber of Commerce says Indiana is making good progress toward its economic goals, but that progress isn’t coming fast enough to compete with other states.

The chamber on Tuesday released its initial Indiana Prosperity 2035 Report Card, which aims to serve as a baseline for the nearly three dozen goals outlined in its visioning plan of the same name that was unveiled in August.

“We have more of the important metrics where we’re showing improvement and making progress, but in many of those areas, we’re not improving as fast as other states,” Chamber CEO Kevin Brinegar said in a call with reporters. “And that’s a concern, because he while we’re improving in an absolute sense, in many of these areas, that’s not fast enough, and we’re falling behind.”

The report card includes 49 metrics comparing Indiana to other states related to the goals outlined in the Indiana Prosperity 2035 vision plan. Those goals are grouped into six categories: workforce; K-12 education; economic growth, innovation and entrepreneurship; superior infrastructure and energy; quality of place strategies; and healthy, prosperous communities and citizens.

Indiana ranks in the top 10 in only seven of the 49 metrics, the report said. The state ranks third for having 11% of its labor force working in a “knowledge- and technology-intensive industry” such as manufacturing, pharmaceuticals or software development.

Additionally, Indiana ranks fourth for minority entrepreneurship, eighth for business climate, and ninth for the number of design patents issued to Hoosier applicants.

However, Indiana has 13 rankings of 40th or worst in the state. Those rankings include 49th for health care premium costs and 47th for actual health care expenditures.

Brinegar also noted that Indiana is 40th in venture capital disbursement and 44th in the rate of overall new entrepreneurs.

Sinders, who in September was named the chamber’s next president and CEO following Brinegar’s retirement in January, told reporters the organization hopes the report card will serve as a tool to focus resources and support in areas where it’s needed, but also highlight where Indiana is improving.

“We believe that by providing this objective information about Indiana’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges, we can spur productive, collaborative conversations about where we are relative to where we need to go, and importantly, what steps we must take to get us there,” Sinders said. “We look forward to working together our with partners and stakeholders across the state.”

Leaders at the Indiana Statehouse have said they plan to have a less aggressive, “quieter” session when the Indiana General Assembly convenes on Jan. 8.

Brinegar said the report card shows that Indiana needs to “keep the pedal down and keep the pressure on” in order to move the state forward. But Sinders said there are many ways to accomplish things.

“Sometimes it’s big things. Sometimes it’s small things, but we need to keep moving forward,” she said. “I think that the Indiana Chamber is committed to working together with the legislative leaders, the governor, and stakeholders across the state to do that. And it’s great to have data to be able to inform those discussions.”

The initial report card released Tuesday, the chamber said, will serve as a baseline for the goals outlined in the Indiana Prosperity 2035 vision plan. Future report cards will be used to measure the progress the state is making to achieve those goals.

You can view the full report card by clicking here.

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