Hundreds of business, education and community leaders will get together next week in Bloomington for a conference focused on the role of early childhood education in economic development. Indiana Early Learning Advisory Committee Chair Kevin Bain says the goal is to spark a "more informed, more organized and more passionate" coalition behind early learning opportunities throughout the state. Monday's event will feature panel discussions, breakout sessions and keynote speakers including Upjohn Institute Economist Timothy Bartik.

Bain says the discussion about the economic benefits of early childhood education is starting to gain more traction throughout the state. House Enrolled Act 1004, which Governor Eric Holcomb signed into law in April, expands Indiana's pre-kindergarten pilot program from five to 20 counties and increases funding for the program by $10 million annually.

In addition to the long-term benefits of a more prepared work force, Bain says early education also has immediate benefits for Indiana businesses.

"It shows up in things like less absenteeism," Bain tells Inside INdiana Business. "If your childcare has fallen through, you've got to be there, and that means you can't be at work." He says it also reflects in employee "presenteeism," meaning employees with young children have to spend less time and effort worried about the type of care they are receiving.

The featured speakers at Monday's Indiana Summit for Economic Development via Early Learning Coalitions include Upjohn Institute for Employment Research Senior Economist Tim Bartik and Erin Ramsey, senior manager for Mind in the Making at the Bezos Family Foundation. Inside INdiana Business Television Host Gerry Dick will deliver opening remarks. Breakout sessions will cover topics including engaging stakeholders, creating a collective plan and special education. You can see the agenda by clicking here and find more information and register for the event by clicking here.