Aspire Johnson County, the local economic development organization and chamber of commerce for Johnson County, announces its priorities for the 2024 Indiana General Assembly session: supporting quality early childhood education expansion and supporting creative workforce incentives.
“Workforce development issues continue to determine the degree of economic and business success,” noted Aspire President and CEO Christian Maslowski. “Individual company talent attraction and retention efforts have helped boost success, but statewide policy and program enhancements can help Hoosier workforce development go from good to great.”
The private sector has made dramatic adjustments and investments in its talent recruiting and retention efforts over the last few years. Employers have increased wages, flexed scheduling, adopted hybrid work settings and invested in workplace culture, all to support employee needs, wellness and engagement.
Ultimately, some statewide challenges remain an obstacle to Indiana achieving its full potential in labor participation rate, average wage and economic output.
Aspire’s first priority issue, the availability of affordable, quality early childhood education, continues to challenge working parents and plague employers.
Indiana enacted some solutions to address this issue during the 2023 General Assembly session, including the permanency of the On My Way Pre-K pilot program, increased family subsidy threshold and new state grants for employers implementing local early childhood education solutions. As the impacts of these terrific legislative programs play out, Aspire will work this non-budget legislative session to support other programmatic and regulatory opportunities to increase available seats.
Studies show children who are ready for kindergarten are more likely to be reading at the third-grade level by the end of third grade, and more likely to graduate high school. A strong educational foundation is critical, and the state should focus on quality and affordability, collect data and provide a multitude of types of providers. Importantly, access to affordable quality childcare is an important recruitment tool and assists with the labor participation rate. A child placed in a stable educational environment provides more certainty and stability for their parents in the workforce.
Aspire’s second priority issue is more broad-based. Aspire supports diverse and creative workforce development policies to incentivize both employers and employees.
Workforce development remains the top driver of business success for employers across our state – it is imperative that we have a talent pipeline to fill jobs as well as retain highly-qualified skilled workers already in the force.
Aspire supported several career readiness efforts, such as HEA 1002, during the last legislative session and is actively partnering with our local K12 system to support implementation of the new state programs and requirements. We will work this session to identify opportunities to help smooth the implementation of the enrolled 2023 bills and build on connecting local employers with local teachers and students.
Aspire supports policies that can include, but are not limited to tax credits, career counseling, remote workforce incentives, tuition assistance, licensure reciprocity, investment in trainings, work-based learning opportunities, affordable housing initiatives and more.
Aspire Johnson County’s Business Advocacy Council researches and advises the board of directors on policy positions and priorities. Aspire is represented at the Statehouse by Torchbearer Public Affairs.