INDIANAPOLIS | Fulfilling a campaign promise, Gov. Mike Pence created a "blue ribbon" panel Thursday to plan the next generation of Indiana's roads, rails, waterways and airports.
The panel will be led by Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann and Cathy Langham, president of Indianapolis-based Langham Logistics. Pence said in the next few weeks he plans to appoint "the best and brightest minds in Indiana" to join them.
They are tasked with identifying priority projects for the next decade, as well as monitoring innovations in transportation infrastructure "to keep Indiana on the cutting edge."
"With the expertise and recommendations of this blue ribbon panel, Indiana will keep its finger on the pulse of infrastructure innovation and strive to provide businesses and Hoosiers with the most efficient transportation system available," Pence said.
The Republican said one of the state's greatest competitive advantages is its location in the "heart of the heartland," within a day's drive of 70 percent of the U.S. population. As a result, he said figuring out Indiana's future transportation needs and crafting a way to meet them is essential.
"We will keep our state in the forefront of infrastructure tomorrow by planning today," Pence said.
Pence announced the new infrastructure panel at the 11th annual Indiana Logistics Summit in Indianapolis, where he praised participants for recognizing that moving things from point to point is a vital part of the state's economy.
"I like to say in Indiana we've always done two things really well: we make things and we grow things," Pence said. "But what we grow and what we make has to go somewhere, more often than not, so logistics becomes a central element of a dynamic and growing Indiana economy."
The governor later helped use a train locomotive to cut the ribbon on a new intermodal terminal in Indianapolis that's expected to help Hoosier businesses save money by bypassing Chicago-area shipping facilities to get their foreign-made goods faster.