Indiana Vision 2025 released their report card detailing the progress that the state of Indiana has made in various areas and key goals meant to enhance and better the state of Indiana.
With a decade still remaining in the project, the most recent results were recently discussed with a collection of some of Northwest Indiana’s most prominent business and economic individuals. A panel of 4 members from different areas in the NWI community came together to discuss the results of the report card and to give their opinions and statistics on how to both improve and strengthen the NWI area.
According to the report, the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) reported that improvements in math and reading were reported in both fourth and eighth graders. Poverty in Indiana dropped significantly and credits the state’s heavily reliance on manufacturing and the re-emergence of manufacturing from the Great Recession.
“Manufacturing is one of the most noble jobs available,” said panelist and Vice President and General Manager of ArcelorMittal Steel USA John Mengel. ‘We’re here now because someone is sweating and toiling away to make all of the things we enjoy.”
The report also stated that there has been a significant drop in adult smoking as well as an increase research and development funding at both universities and business levels have increased, leading to a healthier lifestyle for both Indiana’s residents and future R & D.
“One of the biggest reasons we have reported increased research and increased health goes back to our outstanding talent that has been steadily growing here,” said President and CEO of the Indiana Chamber Kevin Brinegar. “We have invested heavily in developing superior infrastructure in all areas and it is showing.”
While the report held a lot of positive new additions to Indiana, there were also areas that called for improvement and immediate attention.
“We’ve noticed that post-secondary education is lacking and I feel that it all goes back to the earliest areas of childhood,” said Dr. Peggy Buffington of the School City of Hobart. “It’s ridiculous that preschool and kindergarten are not mandatory, it’s something that is absolutely necessary for children to succeed,” said Buffington.
Mengel also remarked that there needed to be more options for people who did not want to follow the college route or did not find success in college.
“We can’t just abandon them without the necessary tools and knowledge if they decide college is not for them,” said Mengel. “There needs to be ways to teach these kids skills at an earlier level to make sure they are ready and let them know that options exist beyond college.”
These options also extended to entrepreneurship, which was also lacking support from Indiana.
“We need give better support for these people wanting to do their own thing,” said Brinegar. ‘We need more success stories like Albanese, we need more people becoming successful in NWI from the ground up.”
The panel concluded the general consensus that while Indiana has made large strides forward, the state must keep working towards goals that encourage growth and welcome new business of all kinds into Indiana.
“2016 will be the year of infrastructure,” said Brinegar. “We have done so much, but we have to always be pushing towards our goals in order to meet our goals by 2025.”