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Monday, October 24, 2011

Some economic development thoughts

Indiana is going to have a new Gov. in about a year. Since I have worked in economic development for over 6 years now, I have noticed a couple related improvement points that I think would truly expand Indiana's economy. These are just personal thoughts and unrelated to any policies or representations made or being made by the IEDC leadership (ie. I'm not speaking for IEDC).

1. Merge the Indiana Economic Development Corporation with the State Dept. of Workforce Development.

Consider DWD's goals:
Aggressively empower Indiana workers to become a highly-skilled, competitive workforce.
(On a daily basis, we will continue to) Raise everyone (workforce) up a level.

Consider IEDC's goals
The IEDC focuses its efforts on growing and retaining businesses in Indiana and attracting new business to the State....leverages Indiana's central location, pro-business environment, low tax rate, and skilled workforce to attract and support new business investment, create new jobs, and keep Indiana competitive in the 21st Century economy.

In other words, each entity represents half of the labor market. DWD attempts to improve the labor supply, and the IEDC attempts to improve the labor demand? Why should we expect that two separate agencies with two separate leaderships and two separate strategies, etc., should be able to work at top efficiency toward the same goal of expanding and improving the overall labor market of the State? Both agencies have made increased efforts to communicate with each other over the past few years, but there in my opinion is going to exist a wall that one cannot pass without a merge. I would, however, put unemployment benefits and insurance onto a separate agency - to me, unemployment insurance does not develop the workforce. It ensures a part of the labor force the ability to survive difficult times but it is certainly not a State development tool.

2. IEDC/DWD/State should adopt, via legislation, a grant that was at one time pursued by Mitch Daniels before the recession hit full gear: Hoosier Hope Scholarships. Another similar option would be to follow Maine's example and provide the benefit as a tax credit: read

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