By Shelby Mullis
INDIANAPOLIS — Gov. Eric Holcomb is calling on legislators to focus on Hoosiers during the 2018 legislative session if they want to take Indiana to the “next level.”
Holcomb took a moment to reminisce on the previous year’s successes and look ahead to the future in his first appearance as governor at the annual Bingham Greenbaum Doll LLP Legislative Conference Wednesday.
The conference attracts legislators, lobbyists, county and municipal leaders for an inside-look at the state’s hot topics surrounding the Statehouse prior to legislative session, which begins Jan. 3.
“We set, obviously, a high bar,” Holcomb said. “We went into session in a strong position, and we came out even stronger than that first gate and we’re seeking to do just that once again in 2018.”
In his 2018 legislative agenda, which he unveiled on Nov. 8, Holcomb emphasized the need for a stronger STEM education program—science, technology, engineering and math—in order to develop Indiana’s workforce.
“Everywhere I go, this is what I hear—if I invest in Indiana, am I going to find the workforce I need in order to survive and thrive in business?” Holcomb said. “We’re addressing that. We want to make sure the state of Indiana is doing all it can to address any of these gaps that occur.”
One step Holcomb has already taken toward this goal is the implementation of nextleveljobs.org, where adults can learn more about how to skill-up to fill jobs in high-demand industries with free training.
Holcomb said more than 240,000 Hoosiers have visited the site since its August launch, and more than 12,000 applicants have been processed through.
The governor, during his address, previewed another program preparing to launch in the state—the Last Mile program.
The Last Mile, which currently exists in eight California prisons, is a program that prepares incarcerated individuals for a successful future following their release through business and technology training.
“They have the skills to succeed. Not just skills, but hope for a better life, many of which have just never experienced that before.”
Indiana has more than 27,000 inmates in the system, Holcomb said. About 12,000 of those inmates are released each year and another 12,000 are brought in. Holcomb said this is not only an effort to provide people with more skills, but also create a more attractive economy.
“We’ve got a lot to do,” Holcomb said. “This is a to-do list. We’re going to be focused on it 24 hours a day. All of these are going to require many hands. It’s not going to make the work easier, but it’ll make it lighter.”
Shelby Mullis is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.