I am often asked, sometimes sarcastically, the following question: “What do you guys (i.e., Chamber lobbyists) do in the months after the legislative session is over?”
I try not to be offended, but I also understand that not many people have insight into the work my colleagues and I do in anticipation of future sessions, which is equally – if not more – laborious and important as our time at the Statehouse. Trust me, the “off-season” is more than political fundraisers and golf outings.
What occupies much of our time is policy development. Each vice president (there are five of us) staffs various policy committees that are comprised of representatives of Chamber member companies. I staff the Economic Development and Technology Policy committees chaired by Larry Gigerich and John McDonald, respectively. Policy and legislative priorities begin with the work performed by our Chamber policy committees during the summer months.
Policy committees discuss and debate topics that eventually become part of the Chamber’s Legislative Business Issues (LBI) document, which outlines our board-approved public policy positions. The LBI aides in our determination of whether we “support,” “oppose” or “remain neutral” on every business-related bill filed during the legislative session.
- Outstanding talent: The Department of Workforce Development projects that “computer and mathematical” occupations will grow by almost 20,000% during the next 10 years in Indiana. As such, policymakers must work proactively to ensure Indiana has a robust pipeline of talent, our “quality of place” is alluring to diverse populations, and that our businesses have the tools and resources necessary to attract, develop and retain a highly skilled, dynamic workforce.
- Spurring capital investments into Hoosier businesses: Starting with the Venture Capital Investment tax credit, Indiana should become the most attractive state in the country for out-of-state investors seeking their next unicorn and for venture funds to set up shop. Currently, investors receive a state tax credit equal to 20% of their investment, which is among the lowest in the country compared to states with similar programs.
- Improving Indiana’s business climate, including government services: Technology does not need to be a scary thing. It can help make us healthier, smarter and spur innovation in urban and rural communities alike. Government can also leverage technology (and data) to drive decision-making, bolster public safety and deliver customer service more efficiently and in alignment with the demands of Hoosier businesses.