Already a leading advanced industry economy among major metros, Indy’s high-tech hot streak shows no signs of slowing down. Our competitive business climate and appealing quality of life helps us best most Midwestern peers in population growth and job creation. We’re a crossroads of global trade with a quickly-improving climate for local start-ups.
We have plenty to celebrate but no time for complacency. The Indy Chamber’s 2018 Legislative Agenda challenges lawmakers to create an even more welcoming environment for new investment, employment and innovation here in the state’s largest region.
We need an open door to new talent, with open-minded and inclusive public policy: Indiana’s overdue for comprehensive statewide anti-discrimination laws and tougher penalties for bias crimes. And we must push the doorway to employment open wider for veterans and ex-offenders seeking a fresh start.
We have to invest in homegrown talent, too. We urge the General Assembly to open access to early learning for more families in financial need, expanding public funding for pre-K and implementing full-day kindergarten by age 5. And for older students poised to enter the workforce, let’s create more college credit options for job-readiness and real-world experience.
Because an open flow of commuters and commerce across county and city borders helps us thrive as a region, we need to reform the way we distribute local tax revenues to support regional growth. It’s also time to reform township finances, use open data to improve public service and end politically-driven redistricting to make government more effective and accountable.
Local flexibility is important for economic development, and state incentives should evolve with our economy as well: Minor policy changes to support micro-lending, clarify tax exemptions for software firms and encourage entrepreneurship and university R&D can have a major impact. Indiana also needs tools to incentivize brownfield redevelopment, attracting investment and jobs to formerly underutilized eyesores.
There’s one area we should firmly close: tobacco sales to young Hoosiers. Raising the smoking age – and the state cigarette tax – can cut healthcare costs and boost workplace productivity, leading to a healthier Indiana economy.
Read on for more details on our agenda for economic development and community redevelopment, workforce, infrastructure and more. Across these priorities, our message to the General Assembly is clear and consistent: Indy will continue to be Indiana’s economic engine – keep our region open for business, and open up new opportunities for our people, employers and communities.
Connie Bond Stuart
Regional President – PNC Bank
Chair – Indy Chamber 2018 Board of Directors
President & CEO
Ensure children entering primary education levels are academically, socially and emotionally better prepared through the development of publicly funded, outcome-focused, Pre-K programs focused on those in most financial need as well as mandatory, fully-funded, full-day kindergarten by age 5
Reinforce and enhance Indiana’s brand as a welcoming and diverse state by:
Support a statewide strategy to equitably distribute revenue to communities from those who work, recreate, and consume in those respective localities to pay for the investments, infrastructure and services that make these activities possible. Support the creation of an incremental Local Option Income Tax that would remain in the county of employment
Support comprehensive approach to increase the state’s health rates by focusing on the health, wellbeing and productivity of Indiana’s workforce through supporting the efforts of the Alliance for Healthier Indiana to:
Increase funding options, minimize regulation and encourage investment in brownfields to aid economic development efforts, including a statewide grant program for “Phase I” and “Phase II” environmental site assessments and explore the creation of tax incentives based on employment on former brownfields
Tax Increment Financing: Maximize the ability of local government units to respond to redevelopment and economic development opportunities through utilization of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts
Local Incentives: Secure and maintain flexibility of local incentives for economic and community development efforts to encourage new growth and redevelopment of existing resources
State Incentives: Maintain Indiana’s economic competitiveness through the preservation and responsible use of existing state tax incentives, placing emphasis on skills enhancement and workforce training to attract investment from diverse industry sectors
Entrepreneurship and Innovation Investments: Support policies that can improve the State’s capital environment and nurture innovative activity through:
Advanced Telecommunications: Building upon the 2006 telecommunications reform, support increased statewide private sector investment in wireless and wire line broadband telecommunications infrastructure. Promote efforts by telecom providers to transition their networks from old legacy technology to an advanced all-IP, all-mobile and all-cloud infrastructure
Regional Cities Initiative: Promote regional cooperation and strategic quality of life investments through the IEDC’s Regional Cities Initiative (RCI):
Stellar Communities: Support continued investment and rural communities and small towns across Indiana by strengthening and expanding the Indiana Stellar Communities program
Historic Rehabilitation: Increase state funding and incentives to encourage redevelopment and investment in aging commercial, industrial and residential properties
Shovel Ready Redevelopment: Support shovel ready community redevelopment efforts through the creation of a statewide grant program to fund the demolition of blighted commercial properties
Revitalization Grants and Revolving Loan Fund: Allow local governments the ability to make grants and loans to private enterprise for the creation of jobs or otherwise stimulate economic activity
Food Deserts: Support innovative efforts to increase access to healthy food options to improve the health of Indiana resident and workforce
Local Roads and Streets: Ensure adequate funding for local roads and streets, while maintaining equitable funding for urban and suburban areas
Transportation Infrastructure: Advocate for a comprehensive and sustainable multi-modal transportation funding package that addresses both immediate needs and develops long term solutions, balances the needs of state and local governments and prioritizes maintenance, rehabilitation and expansion of existing transportation infrastructure
I-69: Advocate for the completion of I-69 from the Ohio River Bridge to Indianapolis in the least intrusive, most economically strategic and cost efficient manner
Indiana Commerce Connector (ICC): Advocate that such an undertaking should only commence after careful study on the impact on economic development, core-city development, regional taxation and sprawl and should not be advanced as an alternative to a regional mass transit system
Water: Support the creation of a statewide coordinating body to ensure sustained economic opportunity through responsible management of water resources
Flooding Mitigation: Create a mechanism to allow communities to capture the increased revenue associated with increased assessed valuation as a result of the flood mitigation project to help pay for the investments
Energy Efficiency: Secure state incentives for business and local government investments in energy-efficient commercial and industrial rehabilitation and fleet management
Home Rule: Allow local government greater flexibility over their own structural and fiscal matters to address the needs of their individual communities
Township Finances: Require township funds that exceed 150% of operating expenses to be spent on infrastructure projects within the township or credited to the taxpayer
UniGov: Seek greater efficiencies in municipal service delivery and finance in Marion County by building on the principles of unified government, including county-wide consolidation of fire departments
Redistricting Reform: Support non-partisan redistricting reform that increases and encourages competition of ideas, decreases polarization in legislative and congressional districts, accurately reflects historic trends in statewide elections and maintains communities of interest and adheres to local political boundaries
Statewide: Continue efforts to streamline overlapping government functions through statewide implementation of recommendations made by the Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform to increase accountability, transparency and effectiveness of local governments
Government Innovation: Encourage state and local governments to create Offices of Innovation to drive policies that inspire open data, transparency, drive efficiencies that can result in greater economic activity and workforce development
Alcohol Code Revisions: Support a comprehensive evaluation and modernization of current alcohol laws and regulations, including Sunday Sales of retail carry-out alcohol and removing restrictions on manufacturers, distributors and retailers from producing, distributing or selling beer, wine and spirits
Employer-Driven, Sector-Specific Workforce Development: Build off of the recent work of the Indiana Career Council and the Indiana Regional Works Councils to better align state secondary education, workforce and economic development strategies to meet the current and future skills demands of regional employers
Work Opportunity Tax Credit: Support Hoosiers entering the workforce through the creation of state tax incentive which mirrors the Federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit (FWOTC) program focused on ex-offenders and the long-term unemployed
Veteran Re-entry: Increase employment opportunities for returning veterans by eliminating duplicative requirements and expedite processes for military-trained personnel to obtain the equivalent civilian license
Ex-Offender Re-entry: Support policies that promote reintegrating ex-offenders into the workforce and economy by:
Immigration Reform: Encourage federal leadership on comprehensive immigration reform. Restore eligibility for in-state tuition and financial aid to state colleges and universities for foreign born students who have matriculated through the Indiana K-12 system
STEM: Support the continued work of the Indiana Department of Education to assess the qualitative and quantitative capacity of STEM instruction and empower a public body comprised of k-12 practitioners, higher education and workforce development professionals and private industry experts to implement the finding of the STEM assessment
High School Career Counselors:
Autonomy: Provide school districts flexibility to pay teachers based on high need and specialized subject matter areas. Empower local education officials to make administrative and structural decisions affecting individual school performance, including the option to extend school hours, merit pay options, providing voluntary alternative retirement benefits options such as defined contribution plans for new teachers
Charter Authority: Expand the authority of the Mayor of Indianapolis to charter Pre-K educational institutions and require local public hearings for the re-chartering of schools attempting to switch charter authorizers after a charter has been revoked
Financial Literacy: Promote financial literacy education through existing k-12 curriculum requirements and encourage the DOE to develop sample curriculum for local schools to implement
School Funding: Support the inclusion of the second count date for the k-12 funding formula to ensure schools are able to adequately accommodate changing student populations throughout the school year