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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY pg. 2 – Our Mission and Goals – Our Strategic Plan – Top 5 Legislative Issues

TRANSPORTATION & INFRASTRUCTURE pg. 3-6 – The Completion of I-69

– Air Transportation

– Intermodal Transportation

– Passenger Rail Transport

– Local & State Road Network

– Water & Sewer Infrastructure

– Complete Streets

EDUCATION AND CAREER-READY WORKFORCE pg. 7-9 – Early Childhood Education – K-12 Education – Vocational Education

– Indiana University School of Medicine–Evansville – Workforce Development

– Higher Education

Regional ISSUES pg. 10-11 – Urban Center Development

– Technology

– Tax Structure & Economic Development

– Tax Collection on Remote Sales

– Regionalization

FEDERAL ISSUES pg. 12 – Affordable Care Act – Federal Spending – Comprehensive Tax Reform

ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES pg. 13-14 – Air Quality – Utilities


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Southwest Indiana Chamber is the new name for The Chamber of Commerce of Southwest Indiana, a nonprofit membership organization that serves as the collective voice of the regional business community. To serve our nearly 1,400 member businesses, and the more than 160,000

people employed by those companies, we provide resources and focus on initiatives designed to help businesses in Southwest Indiana thrive. This document was created by the collaborative work of nearly 200 volunteers who serve on our advocacy and public policy committees.

Our advocacy and public policy goal is to be the voice on local, state, and regional issues that positively or adversely affect our members and the region. To help us fulfill our advocacy and public policy goal, our three-year strategic plan details key objectives, including these efforts:

• Positively impact regional, state, and federal issues relevant to the business community

• Work to improve multi-modal regional transportation infrastructure to foster business growth

• Effectively communicate our public policy efforts to increase grassroots participation

Our 2014 Legislative Agenda addresses our key objectives and highlights a few other priorities, as defined by results of a September 2013 survey to our members. Survey results indicate the following five topics are of highest priority to our member businesses:

1. The completion of Interstate 69

pg. 3-4

2. The development of our urban core

pg. 10

3. Availability of flights from Evansville Regional Airport

pg. 5-6

4. Support for the proposed medical education campus

pg. 9

pg. 7-9

5. Education and a career-ready workforce

This document can be modified at any time by approval of The Southwest Indiana Chamber Board of Directors. Annual review and recommendations are made initially by The Southwest Indiana Chamber Public Policy Committee and review of an annual survey of our membership.


Transportation & Infrastructure

THE COMPLETION OF I-69 Completion of I-69: Evansville to Indianapolis The completion of I-69, connecting Evansville and Indianapolis and connecting Indiana with Kentucky via a new Ohio River bridge, remains our top advocacy and public policy priority. For decades, we have led efforts to advance the construction of I-69. We applaud work done by the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) to complete the first three sections of the interstate, which now takes the interstate from just north of Evansville to Crane.

Work on I-69 continues. Section 4, which will connect Crane to Bloomington, is slated to be open to traffic by the end of this year. Construction on Section 5, which will carry I-69 from Bloomington to Martinsville, is slated to begin in summer 2015. The precise route and funding for Section 6, a critical segment which will connect I-69 to Interstate 465 in Indianapolis, has yet to be identified. We will continue to work with our partners at Hoosier Voices for I-69 and other key groups to advocate for the swift completion of the final segments.

A New Ohio River Bridge for I-69 “A bridge project of this scope will take years to complete.� With a comprehensive intermodal infrastructure in place, the Southwest Indiana region is recognized as one of the highest volume shipping hubs in the country. Currently, the only route servicing this highvolume of commercial traffic and connecting Indiana and Kentucky is Highway 41. Traffic counts rank the Highway 41 bridge span third out of the 10 bridges that cross the Ohio River to link Indiana and Kentucky.

As progress continues on I-69, traffic counts on the already heavily traveled Highway 41 bridge span will undoubtedly continue to increase. Highway 41 carries traffic over two bridges. The bridge which now carries northbound traffic was completed in 1932 and the bridge which now carries southbound traffic was completed in 1966. Neither


span is constructed to modern earthquake safety standards. Like Paducah, St. Louis, and other nearby cities, the Southwest Indiana region is susceptible to earthquakes. And in addition to the risk of natural disasters, drivers will experience increased congestion and therefore be at a much higher risk of accident. With limited access routes to carry an even heavier volume of traffic, bottlenecking will continue to occur over an eight-mile segment, laden with at-grade intersections, numerous spotlights, driveways, and traffic crossings. Although the Highway 41 bridges appear to be sturdy and durable, the spans are rapidly aging and will continue to be strained with increased traffic from I-69. The Highway 41 bridges, without any alternative route, solely serve the densely populated Evansville, IN-KY MSA. By contrast, the Louisville-Jefferson County, KY-IN MSA will soon be served by four Ohio River bridges. The Owensboro, KY MSA and the Paducah, KY-IL micropolitan statistical area are served by two bridges. The St. Louis, MO-IL MSA will soon be served by eight Mississippi River bridges, while the Cincinnati-

Middletown MSA is served by seven Ohio River bridges. The Evansville, IN-KY MSA remains the largest region with access to only one river crossing. Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke and Henderson, KY, Mayor Steve Austin joined the Southwest Indiana Chamber and the Henderson-Henderson County Chamber of Commerce (now called “Kyndle” after a recent merger with Northwest Kentucky Forward) in October 2013 to announce the launch of a new nonprofit advocacy group called BridgeLink. Specifically, the mission of BridgeLink is to advocate for the construction (or completion) of a new tolled Interstate 69 Ohio River bridge by no later than 2020 and preservation of an untolled route across the river for local residents. Through collaboration, BridgeLink works to educate elected and appointed leaders, build community awareness, and ensure that a new I-69 Ohio River bridge becomes a reality. BridgeLink demonstrates that a new bridge is a critical segment of the new I-69, a project often referred to as the largest economic development opportunity for our region in this lifetime.

INTERMODAL TRANSPORTATION With a navigable river, airline service, multiple rail lines, and a growing interstate highway system, Southwest Indiana has prime access to solid intermodal infrastructure. Our ports, rail lines, and distribution terminals are key elements of our region’s intermodal transportation system and we fully support enhancement projects. Improvements will be accomplished by streamlining the permit processes, reducing onerous regulations, encouraging thoughtful planning and zoning rules, actively promoting intermodal transportation system enhancements and connectivity, and providing appropriate financial incentives. New opportunities for our region’s businesses and citizens, including better access to lower prices on goods and services, will emerge from system enhancements.

We actively encourage the development of a new rail-truck terminal facility to serve our region and support funding the project through a public-private partnership. The location of the terminal should provide access to at least one Class I railroad, while also providing easy highway access. The project, which is important to retaining manufacturing jobs in our region, should be considered “high-priority” in order to take advantage of NAFTA-related freight movements.


LOCAL & STATE ROAD NETWORK The quality of Indiana’s road network and infrastructure is vital to our ability to attract and retain quality businesses. We support efforts to provide creative funding for local governments, in addition to allowing partnerships between units of government and

public and private entities. In addition to encouraging an overall state audit of bridge infrastructure, we encourage ongoing improvement projects for both local and state roadways, which will provide economic benefits statewide.

We will advocate for the following projects specifically:

• Completion of an upgraded interchange at Highway 41 and the Lloyd Expressway

• Congestion reduction and other improvement projects for the Lloyd Expressway

• A new north-south corridor in western Vanderburgh County via the completion of University Parkway to Interstate 64 • Completion of the SR69 “Western Connector” around the city of Mt. Vernon in Posey County • Restoration of the New Harmony Bridge over the Wabash River to reconnect New Harmony and Posey County with Illinois • Completion of the Highway 61 bypass project to alleviate truck traffic through the city of Boonville in Warrick County We support efforts to improve the capacity and efficiency of our roads to allow managed growth of our community

in accordance with the Evansville Metropolitan Planning Organization 2040 Transportation Plan.

COMPLETE STREETS We fully support the “Complete Streets” concept for current and future development in Southwest Indiana. The complete street concept is supportive of a healthy lifestyle and is attractive to young professionals, therefore serving as an economic development tool.

As Southwest Indiana continues to grow, communities in our region will benefit from new roads being designed and built in a complete-streets method and improvements to existing infrastructure to make all modes of transportation more safe and reliable.  

AIR TRANSPORTATION We support efforts to increase air travel opportunities in our region through the expansion of services and facilities at Evansville Regional Airport. Our airport is a gateway to the world for Southwest Indiana-based businesses considering an expansion into global markets and for foreign businesses considering expansion in a region with an unmatched quality of life and access to a talented workforce.

We recognize that a vibrant airport can help attract and retain businesses and talent, while a decaying airport can just as easily repel them. We continue to work with Evansville Regional Airport to maintain and expand air carrier service to major hubs. Together, we will work with local, state, and federal governments to develop incentives that encourage and facilitate additional airline service.


We recognize that in order to keep our airport thriving, infrastructure must be constantly maintained and improvements made. We encourage the state of Indiana to provide a dedicated funding source for airport projects, and to elevate the aeronautics

presence within state government. We encourage the federal government to increase funding levels for the Airport Improvement Program and raise the cap on the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) paid by passengers and used for projects at our airport.  

PASSENGER RAIL TRANSPORT We support the development of local, state, regional, and inter-city passenger rail service as an important element to the overall transportation network. Furthermore, we encourage the development of inter-city passenger rail service, possibly provided by Amtrak, from Atlanta and Chattanooga, through Evansville, to Chicago and Indianapolis.

High-speed rail studies at the local, state, and federal levels are supported. Access to a high-speed rail network may provide economic benefits to existing businesses while promoting future economic development projects and new business opportunities.

WATER & SEWER INFRASTRUCTURE We support studying regional sewer districts and alternative funding mechanisms, such as private activity bonds, to meet the demands of fixing our aging and crumbling water and sewer infrastructure. Water and sewer systems are expensive to maintain and upgrade. We need to foster more partnerships in Indiana to address economic development opportunities and the safety of this critical infrastructure. Many pockets

of the country are facing challenges due to a lack of water, including communities in our region. While we have adequate access to water sources in the Greater Evansville area, access could become problematic for neighboring communities and lack of infrastructure will exacerbate any potential shortage. Regional partnerships and alternative funding options can ease potential challenges.

“Water and sewer systems are expensive to maintain and upgrade. We need to foster more partnerships in Indiana to address economic development opportunities and the safety of this critical infrastructure.”


EDUCATION AND CAREER-READY WORKFORCE EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION We recognize extensive research showing the link between quality early childhood development and a community’s economic development competitiveness. While 95 percent of public investment in education occurs after age five, we must realize that 85 percent of the growth of a child’s brain is already complete at that age. Investing in early care for children makes economic sense and at the same time school success greatly impacts the business community.

Evidence has shown that children who are successful in their early years are better prepared to achieve higher education and job training as an adult. Research also shows that children who participate in a high-quality pre-kindergarten program earn more once they reach the workforce. Now that we have completed our goal of making kindergarten available to every Hoosier family, we support funding for pre-kindergarten programs for Hoosier children.

K-12 EDUCATION We applaud efforts to increase standards for Hoosier children, teachers, and schools. We encourage the Legislature to support these efforts through other initiatives to allow greater freedom and flexibility for local communities and teachers to structure educational programs that will fit

the needs of students and employers and create a workforce we can all be proud of. Support continues for legislation that promotes Indiana as a national beacon for innovative funding and achievement in K-12 education, and we support choice as a right for Hoosier families.

VOCATIONAL EDUCATION Vocational education programs should be offered and emphasized to all students entering secondary education, so that at an even earlier age they may begin learning the skills employers need. All training and vocational programs should be focused on high-skill, high-wage, highdemand jobs. They should not necessarily be

tied to credential-based programs, but should be flexible to meet the needs of large and small employers while furthering the efforts to diversify our economy. We support researching incentives provided to school districts that would allow more students to participate in available regional vocational programs.


HIGHER EDUCATION Education is the key component in productivity, economic competitiveness, and workforce development. Employers in Indiana and our region have an increasing need for college-educated employees. The University of Southern Indiana, Ivy Tech Community College–Southwest, and the University of Evansville each play an important role in educating and preparing students for tomorrow’s workforce. Enrollment at the University of Southern Indiana nears 10,000 students and more than 5,800 students are currently enrolled at Ivy Tech Community College–Southwest. A significant number of students from these institutions remain in our region after graduation, providing a well-educated, prepared workforce for Southwest Indiana businesses. The “Reaching Higher, Achieving More” strategic plan prepared by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education asserts that a workforcealigned state higher education system is critical to ensuring Indiana’s economic competitiveness. It is important for the State to support the development and expansion of educational programs and services to address concerns about workforce preparation, including increased emphasis on improving teaching and learning options in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skill areas. The University of Southern Indiana is committed to developing and implementing long-

term success strategies for STEM education in Southwest Indiana. Through multiple initiatives, the university is working to increase the number of quality of students selecting STEM majors and to provide opportunities for engaging high school and college students in hands-on research earlier to generate additional interest in STEM careers. The new state-of-the-art Applied Engineering Center at the University of Southern Indiana opened in fall 2013 and features equipment and technology found nowhere else in the country. This facility is a learning factory for students in the Engineering, Advanced Manufacturing, and Industrial Supervision programs at the University, in addition to serving as a valuable tool for supporting the regional business community. Continued support for the development of programs in STEM disciplines is essential for expanding the regional economy. We urge continued funding and support for the University of Southern Indiana and Ivy Tech Community College–Southwest to maintain progressive opportunities throughout the region for workforce development and for attracting and retaining businesses that require a collegeeducated workforce. We encourage the Legislature to review the state’s funding level and student costs at our public institutions and to continue its support of student financial awards made by Student Financial Aid (SFA).


INDIANA UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE-EVANSVILLE The Southwest Indiana Chamber fully supports the completion of a full four-year medical school campus. Led by Indiana University, this project has the full support of local higher education institutions. The letters of intent signed by Indiana University School of Medicine–Evansville, Ivy Tech Community College–Southwest, the University of Southern Indiana, and the University of Evansville on Oct. 18, 2013 will greatly expand the programming of health education in our region. Currently, the State of Indiana ranks 38th nationally in the number of physicians per 100,000 residents. With only 18 residency positions currently available in Southwest Indiana, the Indiana University School of Medicine–Evansville will work to create a residency consortium between St. Mary’s Health System and Deaconess

Health System in Evansville, Memorial Hospital in Jasper, and Owensboro Health in Owensboro, KY, to create, when fully implemented, 130 residency spots in our region. This project is critical for addressing the physician shortage Indiana faces. A recent study by Tripp Umbach shows nearly 52 percent of Indiana University School of Medicine graduates stay in Indiana after graduation. That number increases to nearly 79 percent of students who complete the Graduate Medical Education (GME) in-state. The economic impact is large. Tripp Umbach estimates that each resident has an annual economic benefit to the community of $200,000. That number increases to $1.5 million in annual economic benefit when students remain in the area to practice after training, which includes the creation of six jobs per physician.

“The letters of intent signed by Indiana University School of Medicine–Evansville, Ivy Tech Community College–Southwest, the University of Southern Indiana, and the University of Evansville on Oct. 18, 2013 will greatly expand the programming of health education in our region.”

WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT Workforce development continues to be important to the future success of our region and state-wide. We must ensure that programs are established to train the current and future workforce, while helping employers attract and retain high-skill, qualified employees.

We support the work of the Indiana Career Council and the development of Indiana Regional Works Councils, in addition to the Department of Workforce Development, Indiana Economic Development Corporation, and other state offices working to increase the linkage between publicly funded workforce development programs and economic development.


Regional Issues URBAN CENTER DEVELOPMENT We fully understand the importance of having a vibrant urban core that attracts individuals for housing, employment, and entertainment. The Southwest Indiana Chamber is leading efforts to coordinate resources to continue developing an active and revitalized Downtown Evansville to serve our region. Engagement initiatives will include advocating for policies and projects that yield downtown investment and vitality. Public-private

partnerships that develop projects in our urban center should continue to be evaluated and supported. We continue to research local policy decisions or public investments that foster downtown revitalization in other cities and work to advance those initiatives locally. Additionally, we will continue advocating for investment in downtown Mt. Vernon, New Harmony, and other communities as appropriate.

TAX STRUCTURE & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT With the development of the Interstate 69 corridor, Southwest Indiana is primed for tremendous economic growth. We support local and state efforts to provide our region with the necessary tools to foster development and creation of a pro-business environment. We recognize the difficulty of achieving tax relief and genuine reform.

Nevertheless, any tax changes that impose a heavy burden on Hoosier businesses will work to destabilize an already uncertain market. As leaders in the state consider additional changes to the tax system, every consideration must be given to how each part plays an integral role in our ability to attract and retain businesses.

We must actively support efforts to expand our business base to encourage additional high-tech, high-wage jobs, while not ignoring or abandoning the manufacturing industry that has built our strong foundation for growth. Specifically, the Chamber will advocate for the following items: • Continuation of property tax phase-in and tax increment financing (TIF) as an economic development incentive and financing tool • Oppose any increase in any riverboat gaming taxes, since our gaming industry is already taxed at a higher rate than surrounding states •

In 2011, unemployment insurance tax relief was passed to mitigate the effects of the tax increase on employers by placing them in a much lower tax bracket through 2020. The law also overhauled the state’s unemployment system to bring revenue and benefits more in line with each other. Indiana should be proactive in keeping its rate competitive with other states, for example: direct general fund surplus toward unemployment tax relief


REGIONALIZATION With an evolving economy and competitive marketplace, the Southwest Indiana Chamber is an advocate for consolidating economic development and governmental resources for the advancement of the Southwest Indiana region. We continue to work collaboratively with the Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana and other partners to attract and retain businesses in Southwest Indiana. We further support the restoration of the Evansville, IN-KY Metropolitan Statistical Area to include again Gibson County, IN and Webster County, KY. In 2013, Gibson and Webster counties were removed from the Evansville, INKY MSA by the Office of Management and Budget

(OMB). Because Gibson County is home to Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana, Inc. and many other ancillary businesses, it makes no sense to remove it from our area. MSA designations are a key reference for market researchers and site selectors looking to potentially move into an area. These two communities in particular have many ties to the Evansville area. More than 4,200 individuals commute from Gibson County and Kentucky to Vanderburgh County for work. Some 2,800 residents travel from Vanderburgh County to Gibson County and Kentucky for work as well. We will continue working with regional partners to advocate for changes to the MSA designation rules to ensure that accurate data is considered when making these judgments.

TECHNOLOGY We support efforts to make Indiana the leader in technology in the Midwest. To accomplish this goal, Indiana must continue to invest in technology that provides high-speed broadband connectivity to residents and businesses statewide. Additionally, the state of Indiana should provide a level tax and regulatory playing field for technology businesses in a manner consistent

with an economic development plan that provides communities with an aggressive set of state and local incentives to attract and retain highpaying technology jobs. Where there is market competition, the market should not be regulated by the state or subsidized. Hoosiers should expect and demand nothing less than state-ofthe-art technology at the lowest cost available.

TAX COLLECTION ON REMOTE SALES We support the collection of sales tax on remote and online sales. Lost sales tax revenue from online sales in Indiana was projected to reach $216.9 million in 2012. The results of sales tax inequity can be seen in empty storefronts. This has a ripple effect on the economy with lost jobs. It is not only a matter of lost revenue, but also an issue of fairness, putting brick-and-mortar businesses across Indiana at a competitive disadvantage.

Indiana has neglected to close this tax loophole, promising to fix it in 2014. Our elected officials should level the playing field and eliminate loopholes that allow some to avoid their tax responsibilities so that all businesses have an equal opportunity to succeed and continue to create jobs.


Federal Issues AFFORDABLE CARE ACT We support a healthy and robust health care system for our country. More than 75 percent of our member businesses offer health coverage to their employees and 50 percent of members who responded to our survey believe that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will cause a harmful impact to their business. Nearly one-third of members who responded to our survey said they are unsure of the effect the ACA will have,

while only seven percent believe the ACA will positively impact their business. Based on these findings, we support revisions to the proposed ACA that will result in actual lower costs for our health care system, continued improvement of the current market-based system, and the elimination of $500 billion in new taxes on small businesses, the medical industry, and other sectors of the economy.

FEDERAL SPENDING Like any successful business, it is imperative for expenses to not exceed revenues. For far too long, the federal government has spent more than it has collected in tax revenue, including three of the last five federal budgets that come with more than $1 trillion in deficits. The 2014 budget deficit is estimated at $744 billion. While this

slight decrease in the annual deficit is welcomed, it remains unsustainable. We support working toward responsible reforms to both mandatory and discretionary spending within the federal budget with a focus on balancing the federal budget annually.

COMPREHENSIVE TAX REFORM The last overhaul of the U.S. tax code happened in 1986. Since that time, our nation’s tax code has ballooned to more than 70,000 pages. On average, it takes 61 billion hours nationally to file taxes at a cost of $168 billion. Currently, the United States has the highest corporate income tax rate in the industrialized world. We support

comprehensive tax reform. It is time to simplify the tax code and make the United States more globally competitive. With business becoming more global, aligning our corporate tax rate is imperative for the country, and specifically our region, to remain competitive in the global marketplace.


Environmental Issues AIR QUALITY We strongly support National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) protecting health and the environment, but recognize NAAQS alone do not improve air quality. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should promulgate NAAQS and implementation plans concurrently. Implementation plans should recognize the regional nature of pollutant transport and formation, and should provide a realistic timeframe in which the affected industries can plan, finance, and construct the necessary additional pollutions controls. The U.S. EPA should coordinate nonattainment

designation deadlines to correlate with the desired values. When promulgating new air quality regulations, the EPA should make every effort to draft regulations that will withstand litigation. The regulated community spent billions of dollars to comply with the Clean Air Mercury Rule and the Clean Air Interstate Rule, both of which were vacated in their entirety. Such litigation does nothing to protect health and the environment, but adds significant costs to industries and consumers.

The Southwest Indiana Chamber has concerns about efforts to comprehensively make our region less competitive and our energy more expensive. We believe that legislation should: • Promote energy efficiency and conservation as the most cost-efficient and logical ways to reduce greenhouse gas • Implement appropriate steps to address the international nature of greenhouse gas emissions without negative economic impact We urge Congress to develop legislation that ensures cost-effective and reliable renewable and alternative energy sources. It is our hope that these energy sources are developed and deployed to allow a transition to a low-carbon energy future, including sources like nuclear, clean coal, and other emerging energy technologies.

Any legislation addressing “climate change” should recognize our ability to compete on a global level and the energy policy should consider that Indiana’s electrical and power costs should not be disadvantaged compared to other states.


UTILITIES The demand for energy continues and we support a plan which strives to grow Indiana jobs and incomes by producing more of the energy needed from our own natural resources while encouraging conservation and energy efficiency. There is an abundant supply of coal in Southwest Indiana and we endorse energy policies that support the use of this natural resource through the utilization of technologies that have improved the efficiency and environmental performance of our region’s coal-fired plants. Thanks to shale deposits throughout the country, abundant and low-cost sources of natural gas are now available

and should be used for current and future economic development projects in our region. We support the development of new energy sources, but oppose legislation mandating certain thresholds for renewable energy that include cost recovery without recognizing conservation and energy efficiency. Legislation should incentivize, rather than mandate, renewable investments and energy efficiency projects. We support legislation that predictably allows for required infrastructure programs to be incrementally recovered in order to avoid rate shock.


Southwest Indiana Chamber 2014 Legislative Agenda  
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