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Spotlight on Economic Development

State needs policies to foster job creation

Indianapolis Start, October 17, 2002

When times are hard, as they are now, state government must do everything it can to help Hoosiers find and hold good jobs with solid benefits.  In the special session earlier this year, the General Assembly passed House Bill 1001, which will help create jobs in Indiana.  It phased out the inventory tax and dumped the corporate gross income tax -- key business taxes that discouraged companies from staying or moving here.  My opponent voted against the bill.

Removing barriers to job creation is critical.  But it is just as essential to adopt policies that will foster job creation.  We need strategies that will make Indiana a favorite home for corporate headquarters.  Three important measures can promote the expansion of our economy:

  • Greater support for high-tech research and development.  We already enjoy a strong foundation for attracting companies in the medical sciences.  Indiana University School of Medicine and Purdue University provide cutting-edge academic research; Eli Lilly, Guidant and other corporations pioneer product development.  To take the next steps, our state government must increase its support for business investment. Our 21st Century Research and Development Fund has received less than $100 million in appropriations.  Michigan and Illinois are operating their similar funds at a level of $1 to 2 billion.  With greater investment, we can stimulate the kind of economic growth that will maintain prosperity and keep our college graduates from leaving for jobs in other states.
  • Investment of venture capital by state pension funds at home.  Start-up companies typically locate near their sources of venture capital, but our venture capital industry continues to be dwarfed by its counterparts in California, Massachusetts and other states.  When promising entrepreneurs want to launch their companies, they often have to move elsewhere for financing.  With more nurturing from state government, we can develop a sizable venture capital industry.  Specifically, when our state pension funds invest part of their money as venture capital, they should reserve a large portion for investment in Indiana.
  • Employment of Indiana companies for publicly funded construction projects.  We have first-rate architectural and engineering companies, but they haven't reached the size of the prominent national companies.  This hampers their ability to compete for major construction projects here and elsewhere in the United States.  Other states grow their local companies by looking at home when spending state funds on roads, airports and other capital projects.  Ohio, for example, tries to reserve 80 percent of its public construction funds for Ohio companies.  We should also support the growth of our construction industry.  When our government builds a hospital or a highway, it should do all that it can to retain Indiana companies for the design and completion of the project.

These measures would be just a start, but they represent an important start.  We need to take aggressive steps to provide prosperity for our children and grandchildren.  With greater creativity and commitment, we can make Indiana's economy the best it's ever been.

Orentlicher, a doctor and Indiana University professor, is Democratic candidate for state representative, 86th District, Indianapolis.


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