Pulaski County officials had the opportunity to hear from the state’s top economic development representative.
Jim Schellinger, President of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, spoke to a modest crowd gathered at One Eyed Jack’s Restaurant and Lounge in Winamac on Tuesday about the efforts being made by his offices.
He says that since job growth was identified by Governor Mike Pence as a priority, Indiana has seen some pretty major success.
“The landscape for economic development in Indiana has never been better than it is right now,” says Schellinger. “When I talk to CEO’s, college presidents, educators, people in lines, Subaru, or wherever, the economy is just really doing great.”
Schellinger spent decades as in the private sector in architecture before receiving his appointment to the IEDC by the Governor in 2015.
According to information provided by his offices, the Hoosier state is ranked first nationally for cost of doing business, first for highway accessibility and infrastructure, first in the Midwest for its low tax rates, and second nationally for the skills of its workforce.
Despite this, he addressed some of the challenges Indiana faces going forward.
“We’ve got to work on continuing to improve our Pre-K, I say Pre-K through Ph.D. Education. It’s the best investigation we can make,” says Schellinger. “We beat our public schools up way more than we should. They’re doing a great job and we’ve got to change that tide, we’ve got to get more teachers in the system.”
Education is also a key part of workforce improvement. The IEDC is promoting the state’s “You Can. Go Back” Initiative – which seeks to help 750-thousand Indiana residents finish their degrees.
Schellinger also spent time addressing an entrepreneurial program announced in July that plans to invest $1-billion in Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
“We are already a state that’s doing a lot of innovation, we’re doing a lot of entrepreneurship here,” says Schellinger. “But we want to put a stake in the ground and say we are the destination for entrepreneurship and innovation beginning at the middle school level, but encouraging that to be a part of the academic program.”
The IEDC President also sat on the board of the Regional Cities Initiative – which saw the North Central Region rewarded for its efforts.
Pulaski County concerned itself with questions about future years for Regional Cities, including the possibility of creating two tiers. Schellinger says there have been rumblings that such a bill could be considered at some point in the future.