The Governor and our Legislature have already invested in programs that are delivering over 100X returns to Hoosiers. Prior efforts of Governor Eric Holcomb and the Indiana General Assembly to invest in our workforce have already positively impacted the lives of many Hoosiers, while building upon a solid foundation for economic growth. The 2019 General Assembly has the opportunity to leverage this to achieve exponential growth for Indiana. The Legislature must team with the Governor to invest ten-fold to leverage these early proven results.
In 1998, I helped create and then chaired a technology-driven statewide effort, the Indiana Technology Partnership, until 2006. This was the first successful state-wide effort to establish a technology ecosystem that had not previously existed.
One of our core "pillars" was a focus on investment. Cash is "oxygen," and the Midwest was (and sadly still is) lacking in this area. VCI tax credits and the 21st Century Fund were established through groundbreaking efforts by ITP, the Governor, and our Legislature. Another pillar was “connectivity”, which included critical initiatives for creating the fertile ground for tech industry growth, including initiatives such as non-stop flights to already-successful tech cities, Daylight Saving Time to get “in sync” with those leading places, and the now obvious importance of ubiquitous broadband. These were some of the initiatives at the top of the legislative agenda at that time.
Similarly, the focused efforts of our Governor now, measuring ourselves against our neighbors and the rest of the U.S., only helps us move the needle more quickly. Governor Holcomb’s visionary “Next Level” pillars enable him and our State’s leadership to leverage initiatives that are proven to work. This is exactly how we will win relative to other states.Via programs enabled through the Workforce Development initiative, many Hoosiers have been able to train for better jobs, increase their personal incomes, find better opportunities for themselves and their families, and are taking themselves to the next level.
As individual Hoosiers achieve their "Next Level," the collective result for Indiana will be a second-to-none workforce to allow our current employers to experience sustainable growth and draw new companies into our State who need a team with high-demand skills. Tens of thousands of jobs remain unfilled today in Indiana, with a projection of over 65,000 tech jobs needing to be filled over the next 10 years. Thus far, Workforce Ready Grants, providing training opportunities for Hoosiers have already benefited more than 13,000 enrollees and Employer Training Grants, through more than 450 employers participating, trained more than 6,500 Hoosiers.
One program funded under the governor’s program, Eleven Fifty Academy, a non-profit institution, has produced approximately 300 graduates with a 93% graduation rate, an 81% job placement and an average starting salary of $51,000. Many graduates get jobs starting at over $70,000. If Eleven Fifty Academy is fully-enabled to train 3000 more Hoosiers over the next two years, doing its small part to fill those 65K jobs, it will create $62.5 million in Hoosier income year one. Assuming the State helped 3000 students per biennium during the next decade, Hoosiers would collectively earn over $15 billion in Hoosier income over just their first decade of their career.
The governor and Indiana General Assembly will have the opportunity in 2019 to continue taking Indiana to the “Next Level” for all Hoosiers, present and future. My advice: Leverage the things that are working and invest ten-fold – for this is how we move the needle. This is how we win.
Scott Jones is chairman of Eleven Fifty Academy and Grow INdiana Media Ventures, the parent company of Inside INdiana Business.