CNBC has released its annual Top States for Business rankings – while Indiana ranks a fairly pedestrian 21st on the overall list, the sub-category rankings are more interesting, giving several reasons for optimism and at least one looming cause for concern.
The state continues to score high in costs of doing business, ranking 9th among states (up from 13th in 2009), and we continue to rank among the top handful of states (6th) in transportation infrastructure, anchoring our strong logistics sector.
We made significant progress in access to capital, moving from the bottom third of states (36th) in 2009 to the middle of the pack (26th) this year. This blog has covered Indiana’s progress in making venture capital available to promising start-up firms – the state has bucked national trends by growing equity investment over the last two years, even as the national venture market contracted during the recession. We made a tremendous jump from 41st to 20th in venture capital investment per capita from 2008 to 2009.
We moved up five spots in the ‘Economy’ category (mainly a measure of economic diversity and success in attracting corporate headquarters) and stayed about the same in Cost of Living (a perpetual strength) and Technology/Innovation.
Our biggest challenge continues to be found in the Workforce arena, where we slipped ten spots from last year’s rankings, from 31st to 42nd. CNBC considers the educational attainment of the workforce, union membership, available workers and the placement success of vocational training programs in arriving at this category. While the exact conglomeration of data can be argued, the broader point cannot – certainly Indiana faces a shortfall in educated workers that must be addressed.
CICP’s initiatives are working against this daunting task – Conexus Indiana is collaborating with higher education partners to create ‘industry-approved’ training programs in manufacturing and logistics, and marketing these programs to young Hoosiers as the path to high-tech careers. The BioCrossroads life sciences initiative has partnered with Purdue University, Notre Dame and others on programs like the I-STEM Network, a resource to improve math, science and technology education at the K-12 level, as well as expanding access to Advanced Placement coursework to ease the transition from high school to college.
It will take these efforts and the focused attention of policymakers, educators, corporate and civic leaders to climb the ranks of educated states. But in today’s knowledge-based economy, no other area is as important in predicting our future economic success.
Read more about the CNBC rankings and view the state listing here.