The Indianapolis region, including Hamilton County, has had several economic successes in recent years.
Yet there are still many jobs unfilled and poverty is increasing, research shows.
The OneZone luncheon Nov. 8 at Fishers’ Forum Conference Center focused on Rebuilding The Dream: Inclusive Growth in the Indianapolis Region.
Mark Fisher, Indy Chamber vice president of government relations and policy development, provided information from research developed by a partnership between Brookings Institution, IU Public Policy Institute and Indy Chamber.
“We have a lot of wealth creation and economic growth but we also have startling statistics about increasing poverty and increase in the wage gap,” Fisher said. “It didn’t happen overnight and it’s not going to be solved overnight.”
Fisher said they spent six months with the Brookings Institution examining the issues.
“We’re looking at skills alignment,” Fisher said. “We’re trying to develop strategies in a comprehensive manner to address this so we can bring more people along in the economic growth and wealth creation. We have a lot to be proud of in central Indiana. We do have a lot of economic growth. We have a lot of population growth.”
Fisher said more than 20 percent of the region is living below the poverty level
“Decade after decade we’ve seen an erosion in our manufacturing jobs,” Fisher said. “From 2005 to 2016, the region lost 16,000 manufacturing jobs.”
Ninety percent of that is the Indianapolis region. Fisher said Cleveland and Detroit are the only cities that have lost more manufacturing jobs.
Fisher said the Indianapolis area built the economy off labor-intensive, lower-skilled jobs.
“How do we maximize our economic growth as a region by attracting dynamic companies that are innovation-driven in the next 30 to 50 years?” Fisher said. “We are only going to be able to do that if we close the skills gap to meet the demands of the employers. We also have to break down more barriers to meet job access, so we talked a lot about workforce development.”
Fisher said that means not just addressing training but better access to the workforce opportunities.