The Indiana Chamber of Commerce's 2025 plan is ambitious, but it's necessary to set goals in order to begin working to achieve them.
The economic development plan is a work in progress, pending feedback during a series of regional forums with key people throughout the state, but already the plan hits the highlights of what should be done to improve Indiana.
It focuses on developing outstanding talent in the work force, creating an attractive business climate, providing superior infrastructure and developing a dynamic and creative culture.
"There are some very ambitious goals in there," acknowledged state Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar.
Among them are:
- Increasing to 90 percent the rate of high school graduates who are prepared for college or career training.
- Enacting comprehensive state and local government reform.
- Returning obesity levels to less than 20 percent of the population.
- Making Indiana a net exporter of energy.
- Aggressively building out the state's advanced telecommunications networks.
- Making Indiana among the top five states in exports per capita.
And that's just a small handful of the goals. Some, including eliminating the state's inheritance tax and business personal property tax, will be easier to accomplish when the timing is right.
But that doesn't make them less important.
"We think the inheritance tax is a relatively small but annoying piece of the state's tax structure," Brinegar said. It can cause heirs to sell a business to pay the tax when they would prefer to operate the business.
Improving the high school gradation rate seems a no-brainer. "It's almost an economic death sentence" not to graduate from high school, Brinegar said. But coming up with the money to accomplish these goals won't be easy.
That doesn't make the Chamber's challenge less worthwhile.
The Chamber had a 2010 plan, and two-thirds of the goals in that plan were met. The 2025 challenge is a necessary step toward improving Hoosier prosperity.
With the state's bicentennial coming up in just four years, making progress on these goals, along with others identified in the regional forums that have begun, should become a major state initiative.
What better legacy could today's Hoosiers leave future generations than to improve the business climate, the quality of life and individuals' prospects for a brighter future?