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March 7, 2014

Pence praises Southern Indiana's role in state's success

Bridges, businesses are sign of long-term prosperity

JEFFERSONVILLE — Gov. Mike Pence emphasized the importance of Southern Indiana’s role in the state’s overall success and leadership Thursday as he addressed a room full of local businesspeople and elected officials.

“It’s a joy to be here and a great privilege to be able to address so many of the men and women who make Southern Indiana one of the most dynamic places not just in the state of Indiana, but one of the most dynamic regions in the United States,” Pence said at Leadership Southern Indiana’s Governor’s Series Luncheon at Kye’s II in Jeffersonville. “I think that the state of Indiana standing as we do head and shoulders above many states around the country today in a broad range of areas is a real case study in the principle that leadership matters.”

The presentation was part of a series hosted by LSI to bring prominent leaders into the region.

“In this we actualized our mission — to actively engage leaders and develop ethical leadership that impacts our regions,” LSI Executive Director Mark Eddy said. “Gov. Pence embodies this leadership dynamic.”

The governor praised local projects, specifically the Ohio River Bridges Project connecting River Ridge Commerce Center and other areas into Louisville.

“I believe that the right kind of infrastructure in the long term creates the conditions that will invite more capital formation and investment and more prosperity,” Pence said. “That’s why my administration was proud to ink the deal, turn the soil.

“We’re going to have that east-end bridge done on time if not ahead of schedule and under budget, and we’re going to contribute to the long term prosperity to this region as a result.”

He also said that since January 2013, 40 economic development projects have been in the works in Southern Indiana, 20 of which have been announced.

Indiana as a whole has been a model for prosperity, Pence said. The state had the lowest unemployment rate in the Midwest, reaching its lowest percentage in five years of 7.5 percent. Indiana also was home to 42,600 new private sector jobs last year, ranking fifth in the country. Additionally, while other states’ labor forces shrank, Indiana’s grew by the sixth largest amount in the U.S.

“Indiana is producing the results that are being taken note of not only around the region but also around the country,” he said.

Although Indiana has been somewhat of a success story for states around the country, Pence outlined four strategies that can lead to improvement.

“I don’t think we’re yet our best,” he said. “I really do believe that to achieve the full potential of our state, we have to keep our head down and we have to keep driving, because I really do believe that the state of Indiana has an opportunity to achieve a level of economic prosperity that we’ve never seen in our state’s history.”

These four focus areas involve fiscal stability, low taxation and regulation, infrastructure and more access to education. Some of his methods for addressing these areas are spending below the state’s means, declaring a moratorium on state regulations and cutting taxes, investing more in roads and bridges, and expanding access to pre-kindergarten programs and trade-oriented education.

“I think the fields are shining for harvest out there,” Pence said. “We can be a beacon of inspiration to other states around the country who are looking to Indiana as a state that works.”

The one call to action that Pence made was urging Indiana residents to call or email acquaintances in other states to tell them of Indiana’s success story and ask them to consider doing business in the state.

“As Indiana continues to succeed, we have the opportunity to do more than our share,” he said.

Among those in attendance was Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore, who said that Pence’s visit to Clark County proves that the region is up and coming.

“Any time the governor comes down, it’s instant recognition of things we’ve got going on. It’s no longer the little town across the river from Louisville,” Moore said. “I think this governor recognizes these are not short term goals, these are long term goals.”

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Jamie Collins, Scottsburg, works on lesson plans in her classroom at Scribner Middle School on Monday afternoon. Collins was the recipient of a $100 gift card to the Your Educational Supply Store from the New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp. Education Foundation. All first-time teachers in the school system received a gift card to help them set up their classrooms.

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