What is the biggest issue that will impact businesses in 2020?  

What is the biggest issue that will impact businesses in 2020?  

The new decade is going to bring lots of new changes and challenges for industries throughout Indiana, and also opportunities for growth. To learn more about key issues that could have the biggest impact on Hoosier employers, we reached out to the state’s leaders from various branches of government. We asked them, what do you feel is the biggest issue that will impact businesses in 2020?  

Jump to a response: 

Indiana Governor Eric J. Holcomb

As I travel Indiana, nearly every business owner I meet with is hiring if only they can find people with the skill sets to fill the jobs they’re advertising for. I likewise hear from hardworking Hoosiers who want higher paying jobs. That’s the good news and the rub. We have high wage, high demand jobs available in every region of our state. And, we have the people to fill them. We even have the state resources to help Hoosiers pay for the education and training they’ll need to fill them.

I want every Hoosier who wants a job to have one. I even want those who don’t want a job to have one, because as they grow, so will our state. As more “have not’s” become “have’s” our economy grows and in turn we can help even more of our fellow citizens.

That’s exactly why I’m laser focused on awareness and access to our proven workforce development programs. Programs that meet Hoosiers on their career path — from high school graduates to retiring military veterans to recovering addicts to rehabilitated inmates, we are offering them all tools for lifelong success.

The reality is, nearly every job created today requires skills beyond a high school diploma. By ensuring our students can obtain stackable credentials, earn and learn while still in school, helping low-income college students through our 21st Century Scholars program and supporting Hoosier adults by offering paid-for training they can complete while working, we are helping people connect with great careers.

That’s why we launched “Next Level Jobs” to help accomplish our ultimate goal: Align workforce skills to today’s business needs, filling Indiana’s 105,000-plus available jobs. Next Level Jobs has enrolled more than 21,000 Hoosiers in tuition-free certificate programs and more than 800 Indiana employers have used Employer Training Grants to hire, train and retain Hoosier adults.

These programs are working, because our people are.

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Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis)

A hot job market means opportunities for Hoosier workers, but creates big challenges for employers.

Indiana’s top-ranked business climate and strong fiscal position have attracted national attention. Not since 2000 has our unemployment rate been this low (3.2%) — below all of our neighboring states and the national average.

With more Hoosiers working than ever before, employers are competing for a smaller pool of job applicants. A recent Indiana Chamber survey confirmed attracting talent remains employers’ No. 1 challenge. Your state leaders continue to focus on a comprehensive approach to workforce development.

Recently, Indiana established Employer Training Grants to assist companies with up to $50,000 to skill-up employees in high-growth fields. We also expanded Workforce Ready Grants, which connect Hoosiers with tuition-free training for high-value certificates. In 2019, we significantly increased funding for proven state workforce programs, and K-12 career and technical education.

Educating and training the next generation, skilling-up today’s workforce, and supporting small businesses and entrepreneurship will be critical as Indiana moves ahead. Indiana’s economic engine cannot continue to run on all cylinders with unfilled job openings. To meet this challenge, we need an all-hands-on-deck approach. State, local and business leaders must work together to keep Indiana moving forward.

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U.S. Senator Mike Braun (R-IN)

I believe the issue that will impact businesses in 2020 will be settled on election day: whether the stellar economic environment of the last two years will continue or be nipped by an anti-growth, government-expanding agenda.

Before being elected to the Senate, I built a company from a little distributor to a national company in my hometown. In the 38 years I’ve been in business, the economic boom since President Trump’s election is the hottest economy for small businesses that I’ve ever seen.

I can tell you that in my company, the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act was the biggest capital infusion we’d ever had. And, thanks to input from my fellow businessman-turned-Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, those benefits weren’t just for big C-corps, but for the real job creators that fuel our economy: small businesses.

Immediately after the tax cuts passed, we started sharing those benefits with our employees. We lowered healthcare premiums, increased wages, and gave out bonuses for the first time in 35 years.

That’s all at stake, however, as candidates seeking the White House and seats in Congress have already made clear they intend to repeal the tax cuts and implement regressive economic policies.

One way or another, I believe the election will have by far the biggest consequences for how businesses run and grow in 2020.

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Indiana Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville)

The rising cost of health care is an ongoing issue facing all Americans. Unfortunately, Hoosiers are not immune to this trend. Whether it’s a large employer, a small business, an individual or a family, we are all feeling the pinch of paying more for the services we need to stay healthy. As individuals, this can have a negative impact on our physical and mental wellbeing. But it also has a larger collective impact that affects our economic potential.

The health care market is so complex that there is no simple solution that will instantly fix all of our affordability challenges. But there are a couple of ideas Indiana can consider tackling in 2020 to begin addressing some of the drivers of high costs.

Improving transparency is a good starting point. Without accessible and manageable data, policymakers and other stakeholders are at a disadvantage. One idea that may be considered in the General Assembly’s 2020 session is the creation of an All-Payer Claims Database (APCD) that would aggregate health-insurance claim data from across the state. This would improve data transparency and hopefully illuminate opportunities for reducing costs and improving care.

Another idea likely to be considered by the legislature is the elimination of “surprise billing,” which occurs when patients are subjected to a surprise medical bill when they receive care from multiple providers at one location, but only some of those providers are in the patient’s insurance network. Twenty-five states already have some form of prohibition on surprise billing. Hoosier businesses and individuals alike could benefit from Indiana joining that growing list of states in 2020.

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U.S. Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks (R-IN05)

Indiana businesses will continue to find that hiring qualified workers is one of their biggest challenges in 2020. We are the beneficiary of very strong manufacturing, agriculture, and technology industries in Indiana. As technological advances are made in these industries their needs for workers also change. The speed at which technology advances is often faster than our schools can keep pace, so employers are left with job openings and a workforce that is, unfortunately, not qualified to fill those open jobs.

Policymakers will continue to put a focus on skills and certification education to align the workforce with the job openings that exist. However, businesses may also need to focus additional resources on training new employees with the skills necessary for the jobs that are open.

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Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch

I think we all can agree that the American dream is changing, just like our workforce and economic needs.

We see the evidence of that reality in the explosive new growth and business development occurring across the state. We have accomplished so much, but we must do more because the world we live in is changing every single day.

And businesses across the state need to start preparing today for the needs of tomorrow. We also must prepare our students to effectively work in a variety of new industries because the future development of our state depends on it.

It is estimated that the number of U.S. tech professionals needed could grow over 13% by 2026, creating 8.6 million new jobs. With this in mind, we need a new way of thinking about career-readiness, especially as our daily lives become more technologically advanced and electronically vulnerable.

Apprenticeships are a great way to ensure that we are addressing this issue and that our students are building the real-world skills necessary to succeed and filling the gaps in future workforce pipelines.

It is imperative that we do a better job bringing awareness to the wide variety of programs available and marketing them as the first-class education experiences they are.

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Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett

Business is cyclical: entrepreneurs pursue new ideas, businesses are created, startups become scale-ups, expansions occur, new ideas emerge, and the wheel of innovation continues to turn. But sustaining this momentum requires a skilled workforce that meets the needs of a 21st Century economy. Access to talent is and will continue to be the single biggest issue that will impact the Indianapolis business community in 2020.

So often conversations on talent focus on attracting college graduates to choose our community over another, and while important and necessary for growth, this overlooks one of our most prevalent workforce assets: our current citizens. Earlier this year I announced significant policy recommendations to reposition our city’s existing economic development incentive programs to advance inclusive outcomes. We made these recommendations for a number of reasons, not the least of which was to address persistent barriers for our citizens to find and keep employment, particularly for low-income residents. These include access to childcare, transportation, and more. By incentivizing employers that support workforce training programs and community development, we begin to tackle ongoing challenges around a constrained labor market and existing skills gap, while at the same time providing opportunity for all in our community to succeed.

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State Senator David Niezgodski (D-South Bend)

I believe Indiana’s economy still has the opportunity to remain stable and to flourish. To do so, however, we must do a better job of addressing our need to find good, qualified workers in practically every job market.

As a construction trades professional who owns and runs a plumbing business that is nearly a century old, I recognize the need to revitalize vocational training and studies in our high schools.

Yes, the need for higher education has always been a priority. However, I view higher education as a combination of postsecondary formal education as well as training in a skilled trade. This mindset is what has propelled me to a professional life that has sustained my family and allowed me to send my children to college.

When discussing business development or the state’s economy at the Indiana General Assembly, skilled construction trades must have a seat at the table. Workers in this field have proven that they know how to succeed. Let’s all work together to build a future for Indiana with a diverse economy that helps all Hoosiers become successful.

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U.S. Congressman Peter Visclosky (D-IN01)

I believe that the biggest challenge that businesses in Northwest Indiana will face in 2020 is their ability to capitalize on new investments in the South Shore Rail Line and the designation of the Indiana Dunes National Park as our state’s first national park. Improvements to the South Shore Rail Line through the West Lake Corridor Project and the Double Track Project, as well as possessing Indiana’s first national park, will attract people and businesses looking for new opportunities.

As we proceed in 2020, there will be numerous possibilities for businesses to begin the transit orientated development associated with these assets. It is anticipated that the two South Shore projects alone will attract approximately $2.3 billion in private investments, resulting in over 6,000 new jobs and $3 billion in economic impact. Additionally, the new Indiana Dunes National Park is already attracting new visitors from across our state and nation who wish to experience this environmental wonder.

These positive developments with our public transportation system and the recognition of our lakeshore have the potential to transform the Northwest Indiana economy for generations and benefit businesses and residents throughout 2020 and years beyond.

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U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-IN)

Thanks to Republican efforts in Washington over the last few years, the American economy is on a roll. The unemployment rate is the lowest it has been in 50 years, Americans are re-entering the workforce, and wages are rising.

One manufacturer I met in Posey County told me they had their biggest year ever, and it’s a direct result of “the government taking their boot off our throats.”

I was elected to the Senate in 2016 on a promise to cut taxes and reduce regulation. The Republicans in Congress, working with President Trump, have done exactly that. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 has spurred investment, and the Senate and the Trump Administration have repealed hundreds of regulations that used to cost billions annually.

As policymakers, our biggest challenge in 2020 will be to keep the momentum going by boosting trade.

I’m hopeful that a trade deal with China can be reached soon, but in the meantime, we need to bolster our trade relationships with other nations. That means we must pass USMCA. This agreement improves upon NAFTA, and has broad bipartisan support, but has been held up in the House for political reasons.

If we continue to look for trade opportunities and reduce the tax and regulatory burden on businesses, the economy will continue to thrive.

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