Gerry Dick, host of Inside Indiana Business on WFYI, talked to the Carmel Rotary Club on July 29 about what he’s hearing from Hoosier business leaders.
And the name of the game is attracting talent to the state.
“It’s all a talent play,” he said. “Every city is trying to attract talent.”
Dick said industries such as life sciences tell him that they would be unable to fill all of their job openings with in-state graduates, so it becomes a necessity to reach out of state.
“It’s all about keeping talent at home but attracting people here as well,” he said.
Dick said companies are finding their employees — often millennials — are picky about where they want to live.
“We’re really starting to see places put an emphasis on things like bike paths, downtown living, parks and other aspects of quality of life,” he said. “Today so many examples of young people who pick where they want to live and they are attracting to the community and then they find a job there. It’s become a big competitive force in economic development.”
Dick said that’s why so many companies are pointing to mass transit as a need for the region.
“I will just tell you what we hear and we see when talk to companies,” he said. “When you talk to companies like Eli Lilly, they’ll tell you from top to bottom that mass transit is an important piece for Central Indiana if we’re going to continue to attract people here, especially millennials that don’t necessarily want to own a vehicle. Yes, it is about attracting a younger workforce who are going to places where they want to live, work and play. They want to bike to work, walk to work and take mass transit to work. I never would have thought that, but that’s the thought process of young people.”
When companies leave, such as Carrier Air Conditioning moving its Indiana factory to outside the country, it’s not because Indiana has failed when it comes to quality of life. But he said there is a need for more skilled workers and often quality of life can attract those employees.
“If a company is intent on that’s what they want to do, then that’s what they want to do,” he said. “It’s not a reflection on Indiana. It really comes down to education and that skills gap. We have some talented people but you’ll see more people get skilled up. I think you’ll see former Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann do more of that in her new role at Ivy Tech.”
Dick said Indiana’s economy is diversifying but “manufacturing is still king.”