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Smoking, obesity, education pose challenges to Indiana's economic growth

The Indiana Statehouse is a dramatic building at night, as well as during the day.

Smoking, obesity, drug abuse and insufficient education pose potential threats to Indiana's future economic growth, according to the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

The Indianapolis-based "voice of Indiana business" last week released its Indiana Vision 2025 Report Card, which warned of challenges to maintaining a competitive economic climate in the Hoosier state.

The Report Card ranked all 50 states on 65 metrics tied to "Outstanding Talent, Attractive Business Climate, Superior Infrastructure, and Dynamic and Creative Culture." It found Indiana ranked fifth at job creation at existing businesses but struggled with entrepreneurship and employment at firms less than five years old.

Indiana also ranked 37th or 38th in educational attainment beyond high school despite improvement over the last decade.

“The current workforce challenges have businesses engaged more than ever in helping craft solutions," Brinegar said. "Upskilling current members of the workforce and attracting more talented people to the state are also important parts of this equation."

Health also is a major concern in the state, according to the Indiana Chamber of Commerce's Report Card.

Indiana ranked 37th worst in reducing drug-related deaths, 39th worst with an adult obesity level that rose from 31% to 33.6% over the last two years, and 44th worst with a smoking rate of 21.8%, up from 20.6% two years prior.

Smoking costs Hoosier businesses an estimated $6.2 billion in health care costs and lost productivity. The Indiana Chamber of Commerce has been urging the state legislature to raise the smoking age to 21.

“The negative effects, of course, go well beyond the workplace,” Brinegar adds. “Individual illnesses and premature deaths are tragic outcomes for residents, their families and our communities.”

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce will tour the state to explain the findings, including on June 18th in Hammond.

To see the full results, visit www.indianachamber.com/2025.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.