A conference focusing on the connections among the economy, work force and early childhood education has drawn hundreds from throughout the state to Bloomington. Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County Chief Executive Officer Tina Peterson says the event gives leaders throughout the state resources to take back to their communities and reminds them they have partners. Peterson says "the momentum is palpable" when it comes to large-scale adoption of early childhood education.

She says the size and scope of the crowd at the Indiana Summit for Economic Development Via Early Learning Coalitions show "that Indiana gets it." Peterson adds "we haven't been the fastest to move along this path as we all know, but as a state, we embrace it. We know that we all have to be a part of the big solution here." She says there are many benefits to early childhood education including more opportunity to get students the soft skills they need for the work force later in life.

Earlier this year, Governor Eric Holcomb signed into law a bill to grow the state's pre-kindergarten program by $10 million and 15 counties. Peterson says leaders at the Statehouse are partnering "in a much more significant way" with organizations like hers at the community level and "it's a very different scenario" than when she says the big push for more pre-k began around eight years ago.