Last week, I officially announced I will not be seeking re-election to the Indiana General Assembly. Although the 2018 legislative session will be my last representing House District 29 at the Statehouse, I hope to continue serving Noblesville as the County Clerk. Since first being elected to the House of Representatives in 1992, I have had the honor of watching our community and state prosper, and I believe this momentum will continue as we further focus on strengthening our workforce and making Indiana a welcoming state for employers.

With Indiana’s business climate ranking first in the Midwest and fifth in the nation, we are signaling to entrepreneurs that our state is the ideal location for succeeding. Our low taxes and the elimination of red tape are fostering small business growth throughout Indiana, which results in jobs and thriving communities.

In 2017 alone, 270 businesses across all industries made commitments to locate or grow in Indiana. These employers will provide 28,846 new positions at an average hourly rate of $27.38, which is nearly $57,000 yearly. Among the companies expanding in Hamilton County is Flexware Innovation. As a provider of software development, business intelligence and automation engineering services, the employer plans to create up to 68 new, high-wage jobs by 2021.

Although we are attracting employers to our state, our workforce lacks many of the skills required to fill many of these high-wage, high-demand jobs. In fact, nearly 36,000 jobs in our area need to be filled in high-demand industries, including advanced manufacturing, IT and business services, building and construction, health and life sciences, and transportation and logistics.

Indiana’s NextLevelJobs.org can help connect Hoosiers with free, local job training in order to obtain a better-paying job in a high-demand field. At this site, visitors can learn more about how to receive Workforce Ready Grants, which were established by lawmakers in order to help students cover tuition costs while they earn an eligible, high-value certificate from Ivy Tech Community College or Vincennes University. The key to these grants is that recipients can continue to work while training part-time. This is especially important for older students who want to gain new skills, but also have families to support.

Preparing our workforce for high-demand jobs is among the important issues lawmakers will be addressing in the 2018 legislative session, which begins on Wednesday, Jan. 3. Although this will be my last session serving as a lawmaker, I will continue advocating for the needs of our community. A good way for us to stay connected is through my e-newsletter updates, which serve as a way for me to share information about upcoming meetings, legislative hearings, policy topics and local events. For those who have yet to sign up to begin receiving my email updates, please visit www.in.gov/h29 or call 317-232-9677.

I look forward to continuing to serve our community in the upcoming months at the Statehouse, and I truly appreciate the support I have received over the last 25 years. 

Kathy Kreag Richardson is a Republican State Representative from District 29, which includes Noblesville, and has served in the legislature since 1992. She also is the elections administrator for Hamilton County. You may contact her at h29@in.gov.