The Indiana General Assembly will wrap up the state’s business at the end of the month. The Indiana Chamber of Commerce’s agenda includes a boost in regional economic development, more funding for broadband, and property tax relief for small businesses. Chamber President Kevin Brinegar says the state needs a new initiative akin to the Regional Cities Initiative to expand economic development efforts.
Brinegar discussed the business issues at the Statehouse in an interview on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick.
He says the state could take a different approach in using federal funding it receives to support economic development.
“Communities all across the state would be able to participate in developing quality of place programs that would be so important going forward to our state’s economy and allow different communities to band together to attract private sector money and apply for these funds,” said Brinegar. “There’s a tremendous amount of federal money coming into the state, but it’s one-time money so it can’t be built into ongoing budgets; it has to be used for one-time projects and we think that this approach will be very important as we attempt to attract and retain a skilled workforce.”
Increasing broadband internet connectivity is another key piece of business for the chamber. Brinegar says the budget bill currently includes $250 million to expand broadband in underserved areas.
“And there are tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars more coming from the latest federal relief package and we believe it’s critically important to use those resources effectively because the state that builds out its broadband the fastest is going to be a leader coming out of this pandemic.”
Brinegar says he expects a tax relief bill benefitting the smallest Hoosier businesses will pass through the legislature. He says Senate Bill 336, which was recently approved by the House, raises the threshold below which small businesses do not have to pay taxes on machinery and equipment.
“This bill will make that available to another 20,000 Hoosier businesses who will no longer have to pay business machinery and equipment taxes,” said Brinegar. “The amounts they were paying were so small that the impact on local government was miniscule and this will be a nice burden relief on our very small businesses who have suffered so much during this pandemic.”
Brinegar says “a lot of very good things” will take place in the final few weeks of the legislative session. He says the state will have a “solid financial footing” going forward after the session concludes.
Brinegar also talked about the chamber’s new $2 million Accelerating Indiana Vision 2025+ initiative, which was announced last month. You can watch the full interview in the video above.