INDIANAPOLIS — Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg unveiled a 35-point economic development plan Monday aimed at securing high-wage jobs for Hoosiers and encouraging entrepreneurship in Indiana.
The former business executive and university president, who served as Indiana House speaker from 1996 to 2003, said improving the state’s workforce is key to unlocking better jobs for Hoosiers.
“We want to look at the quality of the jobs over the quantity of the jobs,” Gregg said. “For too long we’ve bragged about jobs that do not pay a living wage.”
Gregg pledged to use $240 million in existing state resources to make preschool available to all Indiana children, eliminate duplication in workforce training efforts by focusing on key industries and help businesses keep skilled employees on the job during economic slowdowns using work-share programs, where state unemployment funds replace a portion of the employee’s reduced wages.
On the employer side of the ledger, Gregg said he is concerned Indiana rates in the top 10 states for best place to start a small business, but is among the worst in the nation for the actual number of new businesses established.
He proposed transforming the state’s $40 million research and technology fund into a Growth and Opportunity fund to assist Indiana-based startups, while also providing tax credits and tax reforms to support small business expansion and encouraging development of local business incubators.
In addition, Gregg said he wants to help existing businesses by better promoting the export of Indiana-made products, ending the tax fraud associated with classifying employees as independent contractors, improving broadband internet access across the state and prioritizing protecting Indiana’s water assets.
He also vowed to give local governments more freedom to innovate without having to ask permission from the Republican-controlled General Assembly and to improve Indiana’s national reputation by enacting anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Hoosiers.
Gregg acknowledged many of his ideas have long been championed by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, the state’s leading business-interest group, whose political arm typically supports Republican candidates.
But Gregg said he shares the belief of many Hoosiers that government should be pro-business.
By helping employers create quality jobs, more money ultimately will flow into the state to support education, infrastructure, drug treatment and other needs, he said.
“It’s time to refocus state government on the nuts-and-bolts,” Gregg said, dismissing Republican Gov. Mike Pence’s interest in divisive social issues.
“Working with Republicans, Democrats and independents we believe that we can get this done.”
Pence deputy campaign manager Marc Lotter said Gregg’s jobs plan isn’t needed, because “Gov. Mike Pence has a plan that is already working for Indiana.”