Report Card Shows Continued Concerns For Indiana

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Kevin Brinegar is the president and CEO of the Indiana Chamber. Kevin Brinegar is the president and CEO of the Indiana Chamber.

A new report from the Indiana Chamber of Commerce says the state is still seeing several challenges to improving its economic climate. The chamber Thursday released its biennial Indiana Vision 2025 Report Card and President and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Brinegar says Indiana did make improvements in many metrics, including business climate issues such as the tax, regulatory and legal environments, as well as K-12 education. However, the chamber says areas such as public health continue to get worse throughout the state.

The results show Indiana's adult smoking rate went from 38th worst to 44th worst in the country, while the state's adult obesity levels went from 36th worst to 39th worst. In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Brinegar said the health metrics are a key component for the state.

"This is important because it impacts healthcare costs and it impacts the healthiness of our workforce," said Brinegar. "It is estimated that smoking in Indiana costs employers $6.2 billion a year in higher healthcare costs, absenteeism and loss of productivity."

Brinegar adds another area of concern from the report is the lack of new business startups. Indiana fell from 44th to 47th in the nation for new business creation and Brinegar says while the state isn't creating new businesses as fast as other states, Indiana is creating new jobs at a quicker rate.

"Particularly our more mature companies ranked fifth in the country in new job creation," said Brinegar. "We hope that the changes to the Venture Capital Tax Credit, making that tax credit transferable, in this 2019 session of the General Assembly, will help reverse that trend and foster more business startups."

The chamber says while Indiana continues to lag behind other states in terms of residents with associate degrees, bachelor's degrees or post-secondary training with industry credentials, the state is seeing "significant" improvement compared to the report cared issued two years ago. Brinegar says those efforts are going to continue.

"We have a goal in this plan of reaching 60 percent of our population having a degree or an industry-recognized certification by the year 2025. We're at 43 percent now so we still have a ways to go. We're behind the other states in that regard, although we are improving, but that ties into our per capita personal income and the quality of the jobs that are coming to Indiana are comparatively not quite as strong because we don't have as many people with the degrees and the skills needed to fill those jobs, so we need to continue to reverse that trend."

Brinegar says the chamber will host regional forums in about 10 cities over the next two months to present the report card's findings and have discussions on how to improve Indiana's standing in the country.

You can connect to more about the Indiana Vision 2025 Report Card by clicking here and in the document below:

Brinegar discussed some of the challenges facing Indiana.
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