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Indiana Chamber lays out economic vision for coming decade, stresses need for improvement

The side of an Indiana government building with a sign that reads "Indiana A State That Works." In the foreground is another government build, seen at night on a clear day.
Lauren Chapman
IPB News
The Indiana Chamber of Commerce's Prosperity 2035 plan lays out its economic goals for the state over the next dozen years.

Indiana Chamber of Commerce leaders say the state is “a lap or two behind” its competition when it comes to workforce development and educational attainment.

The chamber Monday unveiled its new economic vision plan for the next dozen years — laying out the ways it thinks Indiana must move to succeed.

The chamber’s plan extends some of the goals it set in previous plans. For example, it wants 70 percent of the state earning some sort of post-secondary degree or certificate by 2035. Its previous target was 60 percent by 2025, which Indiana will almost certainly not meet.

Chamber President Kevin Brinegar said the state also needs more than 90 percent of its students reading-proficient by third grade. It’s currently less than 82 percent.

“If Indiana excelled in addressing every other goal outlined in this plan but failed to make significant progress in the workforce and education goals, it’s highly doubtful that Indiana’s economy will hold its place,” Brinegar said.

READ MORE: Will teaching reading science pull Indiana children out of a literacy decline?

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The chamber also wants 70 percent of the state active in the labor force by 2035. It’s currently at about 63 percent.

“If we can raise our workforce participation rate to 70 percent, the over 100,000 empty jobs that we have currently would be filled,” Brinegar said.

The chamber said Indiana must also make up lost ground in entrepreneurship and business startups. Larry Gigerich, who helped develop the vision plan, said the state will never be a huge destination for companies to relocate their headquarters.

“So, it’s really important for us to grow our entrepreneurial community and our small businesses, because growing our own is where we’re going to be most successful,” Gigerich said.

The chamber said its goals will influence what it advocates for over the next decade with legislators and policymakers.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.