2017 report card measures Indiana’s, region’s economic performance
The Indiana Chamber of Commerce works with legislators each year on the “short game” of crafting the best public policies to help move the state forward. But the long term is also top of mind for the Chamber, especially through its Indiana Vision 2025 economic development action plan.
Indiana Vision 2025 has 36 goals grouped under four drivers: Outstanding Talent; Attractive Business Climate; Superior Infrastructure; and Dynamic and Creative Culture. Developed by a statewide group of business and community leaders, the first report was released in 2012. A report card is issued every other year to evaluate the state’s progress on those goals compared to the 49 other states.
The third report card, issued in June, used 62 metrics to measure those 36 goals. Overall, Indiana improved its ranking on 36 metrics and declined on just 16. There was no rank change or available comparison on 10 metrics. In addition, the compilation of county-level data allows for comparisons on how Northwest Indiana is faring in relationship to the state as a whole.
Reasons to celebrate
The state shines brightest in Attractive Business Climate, with positive rankings related to tax and regulatory environments, as well as state and local government spending.
Exports are part of the measure of a Dynamic and Creative Culture, with Indiana maintaining a top 10 ranking throughout all three report cards. The state also competes well in university business spinouts by creating new companies based on campus technologies.
Indiana is improving its K-12 performance, with top 10 rankings among the 50 states in five of the National Assessment of Educational Progress test categories for fourth and eighth graders.
Areas of concern
While there are pockets of strong entrepreneurial activity, the overall rankings for business start-ups and net job creation in new firms put Indiana in 44thplace. And while the statistic is volatile, a three-year average of venture capital investment placed Indiana 35th. A lack of funding at the growth stage for companies is particularly troubling.
Despite improvements in raw scores and state rankings, the percent of the adult population with associate’s degrees (40th place ranking) and bachelor’s degrees (39th) remains lacking. Although Indiana ranks third in producing college graduates with science and technology degrees, we rank 42nd in the percent of the adult population holding such degrees.
Health care metrics also continue to lag. Despite a five percent reduction in adult smoking in recent years, more than 20 percent of Hoosiers still light up, giving Indiana a 39th place ranking. And nearly one in three adults are considered obese, with only 13 states in worse shape in this category.
Reliable regional data is available on a limited number of the overall metrics. The Chamber compared the Northwest Indiana region to the overall state in nine metrics, mostly focused on educational attainment.
Northwest Indiana’s high school graduation rate of 89.65 percent exceeded the statewide average of 87 percent. Advanced degree attainment trailed the overall state performance: associate degrees, 31.5 percent in the region compared to 36 percent overall; bachelor’s degrees, 21.8 percent in the region and 26.7 percent for the state.
This region slightly edged Indiana as a whole, 10.2 percent to 10.1 percent, in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) bachelor’s degrees. It also had a lower smoking rate, 18 percent compared to the overall mark of 20.6 percent.
Three other notable results:
- Indiana obesity rate, 31.3 percent; Northwest Indiana, 33 percent
- Indiana individuals in poverty, 11.8 percent; Northwest Indiana, 12.9 percent
- Indiana per capita income, $26,396; Northwest Indiana, $24,757.
Indiana is improving in many areas, but the pace of improvement must accelerate. Economic development is a competitive game and other states are not standing still. Workforce challenges continue to grow, requiring both short- and long-term solutions.
It is clear that the state will only be as strong as the individual communities and regions that comprise it. Regional cooperation will improve the quality of life in our cities and towns and will yield positive returns for years to come.
More information about Indiana Vision 2025 and the report cards is available at www.indianachamber.com/2025.