IBJ: Brad Chambers: Indiana needs a job creator, not a career politician

In Indianapolis Business Journal’s Forefront

Featured issue: What does the state need to do to boost Indiana’s per capita income, which continues to lag the nation’s?

By Brad Chambers

For decades, Indiana’s economic growth and average wage have lagged the nation’s.

To me, it’s completely unacceptable. With our world-class universities, talented workforce, business-friendly environment, exceptional quality of life and stable government, Indiana shouldn’t lag, it should lead.

That’s why, when I decided to step away from private business to serve as Indiana’s secretary of commerce for $1 a year, I was determined to do what I could to recruit high-wage industries and fertilize entrepreneurship and innovation to make Indiana a leader and a winner in the global economy.

I’m proud of what the team and I were able to do during my two-year tenure, including $51 billion of new planned capital investment and tens of thousands of new careers paying wages 30% higher than at any time in state history.

How did we do that? Like in my own business, it starts with a plan—a strategic plan to build an economy of the future that leverages Indiana’s strengths in a variety of industries, like agricultural technology, advanced manufacturing, life sciences, medical devices and defense.

We leveraged our manufacturing heritage to ensure Indiana got more than our fair share of investment returning to the United States in onshoring efforts. We simply picked up the phone and called companies in the semiconductor and EV battery industries, landing thousands of high-wage jobs all over Indiana in places like Howard, St. Joseph, Boone and Vigo counties.

Sometimes, all it takes is a plan, confidence, aspiration for a better future … and a phone call.

Indiana has been too humble, and it’s time for that to change.

I’m running for governor because I believe in our state and its unlimited potential, its ability to lead and win. I’ve proved we can do better.

We must continue to attract, retain and expand high-wage industries that will help us keep more of our 80,000 annual college graduates right here in Indiana. They’re making a return-on-investment decision when they graduate—let’s give them a reason to stay.

We must continue to make investments in our quality of life, with grassroots investment programs like READI, which is injecting new life into communities small and large, urban and rural across the state.

We must continue to make investments in Indiana’s small and medium-size businesses, entrepreneurs and innovators, including and especially in agricultural and life sciences innovation.

We must have the infrastructure and the sites that will allow the state to move at the speed of business. The LEAP District in Lebanon is an investment in doing just that.

And we must invest more in Indiana’s future and our students, and create clear career and trade pathways so they can maximize their earning potential and build a great life right here in Indiana.

I’m a career job creator, not a career politician.

Career politicians can’t—and won’t—build a better future for Hoosiers.

It’s time for a change. It’s time for future-focused leadership.

And I’m ready as Indiana’s next governor. •