While signs point to Northwest Indiana's economy undergoing a transformation, business leaders said the region needs to improve its job creation, workforce training and overall wages.
For the past decade, the region's economy has been "steady" even as the share of workers employed in traditionally prominent manufacturing and construction sectors has declined, according to the 2012 Quality of Life Indicators report.
"The industrial past has given way to a more uncertain future that will require greater diversification, innovation and entrepreneurship and a workforce trained for a wider variety of occupations, particularly in service industries, health care and transportation," the report said.
Small businesses employed about 68 percent of workers in Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties in 2010, compared with 66 percent in 2000, according to the report. Per capita income growth in Lake and LaPorte counties has lagged behind the national average between 2000 and 2010, while Porter County remained higher than the national average in 2010 at $40,544.
One positive development was the number of private-sector entities undertaking projects to improve operations. The report also noted the challenges still faced by racial and ethnic minorities and women in attaining capital, education and employment.
The report said there is a need to develop a regional economic development strategy by business groups, educational institutions and individuals.