BATESVILLE — State Sen. Jean Leising’s proposal to strengthen local economic development by examining best and worst practices of Indiana counties passed the Senate Committee on Commerce and Economic Development Jan. 20 by an 8-0 vote.
Leising (R-Oldenburg) said Senate Resolution 10 urges the General Assembly’s Legislative Council to create a study of causes and solutions for Indiana counties having higher unemployment and lower per capita income than the state average.
“This proposal is all about jobs — what we can find out to improve our local economies and what works for counties in Indiana that are doing better than others,” Leising said. “The fact is, many communities are hurting from high unemployment during current economic hardships. Five of the seven counties I represent — Decatur, Fayette, Henry, Ripley and Rush — have unemployment rates above the non-seasonally adjusted state average, with Fayette County currently listed with the highest unemployment rate in Indiana: 11.9 percent. As a legislator, it’s always my goal to serve in the best interest of all Hoosiers, and this resolution would encourage officials to really get to the bottom of what can be done to help counties that are suffering.”
Leising added that many Indiana communities historically relied on manufacturing jobs that have now been lost and don’t know how to rebuild their economic bases.
“When manufacturing jobs are no longer available and a community has built itself around those jobs for years, it’s hard for people to reprogram or know what to do,” Leising said. “My hope in recommending this study committee is to show those struggling areas how to recover and better prepare communities for these losses in the future.”
New Castle-Henry County Economic Development Corp. President Bob Grewe testified in support of Leising’s resolution, saying the region’s high unemployment rate needs to be examined.
“We need to look deeper,” Grewe said. “Indiana would see considerable value in identifying specific challenges our suffering communities are facing. Let’s get more insight and see what surfaces.”
Daniel Hasler, secretary of commerce for the state of Indiana and chief executive officer for the Indiana Economic Development Corp., also spoke in support of SR 10.
“This year, as a state, we’ve won 219 competitive deals with new or expanding employers,” Hasler said. “But competition is growing fiercer. We should make every attempt to best that number. I support Sen. Leising’s effort.”
A full copy of the resolution can be found on the Indiana General Assembly’s website at http://www.in.gov/apps/lsa/session/billwatch/billinfo?year=2012&session=1&request=getBill&doctype=SR&docno=0010 .