Governor Eric Holcomb delivered a virtual State of the State address Tuesday night. In addition to touting the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and his plan for increasing funding for Hoosier schools, the governor unveiled the Next Level Regional Recovery program. Similar to the previous Regional Cities Initiative, Holcomb says the program will focus on the creation of economic development strategies designed to attract, retain and develop talent.
The governor said the program is all part of a larger effort to improve the state’s quality of life.
“Should our positive financial position continue through the end of this fiscal year, we will begin to invest new dollars into a new Next Level Regional Recovery program,” Holcomb said. “The IEDC will work with regions that collaborate to develop strategies designed to improve quality of place, advance industry sector development, and grow workforce development initiatives among regions, educators, employers, and our state’s workforce.”
Holcomb did not specify a dollar amount for the program or how the state would pay for it.
The governor said the initiative is still in its early stages and the state plans to work with the Indiana General Assembly, as well as local elected officials, economic development officials and other stakeholders to ensure the program can hit the ground running “when we have the green light.”
The more than $120 million Regional Cities Initiative was launched in 2015 by then-Governor Mike Pence. A December 2017 study from Ball State University suggested the effort resulted in more than $1.2 billion in investment, mostly from the private sector.
During his address, Holcomb also cited his plan to increase funding for K-12 schools throughout the state, which was part of his proposed budget plan presented to the General Assembly. On top the of the additional $377 million proposed for school budgets, the governor said the state needs to examine the 37 recommendations of the Next Level Teacher Compensation Commission, which were released last month.
“When, not ‘if’ – when we do this, we will be one of the best in the Midwest for teacher pay, and we’ll be better able to attract and retain teacher talent, including attracting more minority candidates,” Holcomb said.
You can view the full State of the State address in the video below: