Annual economic outlook: 'Livin' on a Prayer,' Indiana State economist says

February 5, 2014

Bon Jovi's song "Livin' on a Prayer" describes Indiana's 2014 economic forecast, according to one Indiana State University economist.

"I think [income inequality] is about the social fabric of the United States and who we are as a people and the opportunity society we wish to be," economics professor Robert Guell said. "We want this issue to go away."

Guell was one of four panelists at the 2014 Groundhog Day Economic Forecast Breakfast Tuesday at Indiana State. He described the difficulty of moving up the economic ladder, saying the "rungs are becoming harder to climb" and individual incomes have become less equal.

Other panelists were Indiana State graduates Brian Conley, president of Conley Real Estate Appraisals, and Gerry Dick, president and managing editor of Grow INdiana Media Ventures. Indiana Secretary of Commerce Victor Smith served as the keynote speaker.

The panelists addressed a number of issues including the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, immigration laws, unemployment and the skills gap.

 

Dick said there is "some cautious optimism" about 2014, but also "dark clouds that certainly remain." He outlined Indiana's economic plan in what he referred to as a two-prong effort.

"For one, we are attempting to create more good-paying jobs," he said, "jobs that will bring (the) capital income of the state up, which has lagged the rest of the country for many years."rn

 

The second part of the approach is the growing number of communities that are focusing on creating "quality of place" environments. He said that such measures are attracting young professionals to live and work in these communities.

"When I graduated from college I went to a community for a job," he said. "There is a lot of data out there now that talks about how young professionals don't necessarily go for the job, they select the community and then get the job."

Smith said he shares one "simple goal" with Gov. Mike Pence.

"Our goal is that more Hoosiers be working than at any other time in Indiana history," he said.

As the former chief executive officer of CDS Engineering, Smith said that he understands the challenges businesses face.

"I bring to [this position] a guy whose house was on the line, those ah-hah in the middle of the night with the pen and paper on your nightstand," he said. "I lived that... I understand what is going on."

Through his government position, Smith also serves as chief executive officer of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, which responds to questions and concerns about Indiana business.

"We take pride in being very fast responders when people call in with questions about locating in Indiana or growing in Indiana," he said. "Other states benchmark the IEDC. We are probably one of the top two or three organizations what we do in the country."

Dick pointed out positive aspects of Indiana's economy such as the growth of entrepreneurship, industry and manufacturing. He said the state is beginning to attract company headquarters and is becoming a place where companies want to do business.

"I think that as you look at states, not only in the Midwest but around the country, there is a lot to be excited about from a business standpoint here in the state of Indiana," Dick said.

The Groundhog Day Economic Forecast Breakfast was sponsored by the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce, Terre Haute Savings Bank and the Scott College of Business at Indiana State.

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Events/Events-by-Year/2014/2014-Groundhog-Day-Economic/i-w47TSZH/1/3X/02 04_14_groundhog_day_economic_forecast-8764-3Xpg - Business, government and education leaders attended the annual Groundhog Day Economic Forecast Breakfast at Indiana State University. Victor Smith, Indiana's secretary of commerce, was the keynote speaker for the Feb. 4, 2014 event. (ISU/Tony Campbell)

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Events/Events-by-Year/2014/2014-Groundhog-Day-Economic/i-L2Q56qc/1/3X/02_04_14_groundhog_day_economic_forecast-8581-3X.jpg - Gerry Dick, president and managing editor of Grow INdiana Media Ventures was among panelists looking to the future Feb. 4, 2014 during the annual Groundhog Day Economic Forecast Breakfast at Indiana State University. (ISU/Tony Campbell).

Writer: Emily Sturgess, media relations assistant, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3773 or esturgess@sycamores.indstate.edu