The advantages that currently help Indiana maintain a competitive economic climate may soon not be enough due to several challenges outlined in the Indiana Chamber of Commerce’s Indiana Vision 2025 Report Card.
While progress is taking place on some of the education statistical measures as part of the long-term approach to future workforce needs, the results are simply poor and getting worse when it comes to the health of our state’s citizens.
“Indiana’s tax, regulatory and legal environments – vastly improved over the past 15-plus years – have led to justly deserved high rankings in a number of national evaluations,” says Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar. “But the health of our citizens, and the impact on communities and businesses, is negatively impacting the Attractive Business Climate driver of Indiana Vision 2025 and the state’s ability to compete.”
Indiana’s adult smoking rate of 21.8 percent (an increase from 20.6 percent in the most recent biennial comparison) is 44th worst among the 50 states. Adult obesity levels escalated from just over 31 percent to 33.6 percent – 39th worst.
In the one new goal (to reduce drug-related deaths in the state) added to the plan since 2017, Indiana is 37th worst.
The Indiana General Assembly has failed to take action in recent years to raise the cigarette tax or the legal age for smoking from 18 to 21. This comes despite a $6.2 billion annual business impact in health care costs and lost productivity, as well as more than 60 percent public support for taking both measures.
“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.”
Postsecondary results continue to lag with Indiana rankings of 37th or 38th in the areas of associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees or training beyond high school that includes industry credentials. The good news, however, is there was significant improvement in each of those categories since the prior report card two years ago.
“The current workforce challenges have businesses engaged more than ever in helping craft solutions. Upskilling current members of the workforce and attracting more talented people to the state are also important parts of this equation,” Brinegar notes.
In the important Dynamic and Creative Culture driver, Indiana continues to struggle in the Kauffman Foundation Index measuring new entrepreneurs and in total employment at firms less than five years old. In a new metric, the state has a No. 5 ranking in job creation for existing businesses (six years and older) and the same standing for employment at affiliates of foreign-owned companies.
The Indiana Vision 2025 Report Card compares the 50 states on 65 metrics related to 37 goals grouped by four drivers: Outstanding Talent, Attractive Business Climate, Superior Infrastructure, and Dynamic and Creative Culture.
Overall, Indiana ranks in the top 10 in 14 of the 65 metrics. It has six rankings of 40th or worse. Compared to 2017, the state improved in 23 rankings and declined in 24. When looking at raw scores, 30 from the new Report Card are better than the previous version with only 20 declining.
“Those numbers reiterate that our state is not operating in a vacuum,” Brinegar offers. “While we improve in performance, other states are moving ahead at a faster rate and passing Indiana in the rankings.”
This is the fourth Indiana Vision 2025 Report Card; full results are available at www.indianachamber.com/2025.