By DANIEL SUDDEATH
FLOYD COUNTY —
Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann pledged to visit each of Indiana’s 92 counties this year to meet with local commerce leaders and elected officials.
On Wednesday, Ellspermann scratched Floyd County off the list as she toured Hitachi Cable Indiana, had lunch at the Charles Allen Prosser School of Technology and held a discussion with local lawmakers as part of her “Listen and Learn” tour.
A common thread of feedback from business and agricultural leaders is a continued need for a well-trained workforce, Ellspermann said.
Gov. Mike Pence has been a strong proponent of vocational and technical school training, and she said Prosser is an example of the type of institution that can yield the kind of laborers needed in Indiana.
“There are needs for those skilled workers,” she said, adding that the state’s two-year college and technical training programs will also be important in stocking Indiana’s work force.
Also on Wednesday, Pence announced the chairs and members of the Indiana Regional Works Councils. The councils were created, with the approval of the General Assembly, to create boards of educators and employers that will discuss how to develop career and technical education to meet demands of employers in their regions.
Floyd and Clark counties fall into Region 10, and members of the council include Kent Lanum, president of the Paul Ogle Foundation, Ted Huber, president of Huber’s Orchard and Winery, and Monty Schneider, Superintendent of West Clark Community Schools.
“Our administration remains committed to making career and vocational education a priority in every high school in Indiana,” Pence said in a news statement.
With unemployment still hovering above 8 percent, job creation remains a critical issue for businesses as well as for the administration, Ellspermann said.
Her tour features two sessions in each county, as she meets with business and agricultural leaders and holds a separate gathering with local elected officials.
Floyd County was the 54th county she’s toured, and Ellspermann said there are common themes relayed by leaders throughout the state.
There remains some doubt in the economy, and some of that is out of the state’s control due to national and global factors, she said.
Good news has been shared along the way, too, as there have been expansions reported and growth promised for Indiana businesses, Ellspermann continued.
“But honestly with the uncertainty in Washington, we’re seeing a mooted amount” of business expansions in Indiana, she said.
Pence and the administration have attempted to help businesses by placing a moratorium on new regulations, pushing for the repeal of the inheritance tax and by being good stewards of the funds available to the state, she continued.
“The governor and I remain committed to making sure that Indiana is a great place to do business,” Ellspermann said.
Locally, leaders and officials believe Floyd County has a great future especially in business, she added.
“Overall, in both sessions, we heard an optimism about New Albany, and how the downtown is coming back,” Ellspermann said.
It’s common for state officials to hear that they don’t pay enough attention to local communities, which is why the administration made it a point to tour every county this year, she said.
Ellspermann has already been to Clark County, and will visit Harrison and Washington counties before her tour wraps up in November.