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AGC of Indiana ‘Gets the Band Back Together’ for Annual Conference

by: Jack Quigley
Blues Brothers tribute band ‘The Soul Men’ prepare for their live performance
Blues Brothers tribute band ‘The Soul Men’ prepare for their live performance
AGC of Indiana member Bob Bowen of Bowen Engineering introduces Governor Eric Holcomb for fireside chat
AGC of Indiana member Bob Bowen of Bowen Engineering introduces Governor Eric Holcomb for fireside chat
On November 10th, the Associated General Contractors of Indiana (AGC of Indiana) hosted its annual conference at Crane Bay Event Center in downtown Indianapolis.

AGC of Indiana Annual Conference Task Force Chair Molly Burns kicked off the morning by welcoming attendees to the former potbelly stove factory before introducing Gerry Dick, President of Grow Indiana Media Ventures and Inside Indiana Business leader, and Dr. Mike Hicks, Director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University, for presentations about Indiana’s economy and vanishing workforce.

Chatting with the Governor
Rob Barnes, Business Development at The Hagerman Group, moderated a lunchtime fireside chat with Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb where they discussed a wide range of topics related to the future of Indiana’s economy.

Three central themes dominated Barnes’ chat with Governor Holcomb: the pandemic, the economy, and workforce development.

Deemed an essential business by Governor Holcomb near the beginning of the pandemic, construction was permitted to continue operations and avoided the substantial project delays that affected many areas of the country last year because of social distancing restrictions.

Holcomb credited Indiana’s AEC community for staying in constant communication with government officials amidst uncertain times.

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“I often talk about the importance of constant communication, feedback, and sharing information – even when you don’t have all the answers,” Holcomb said.

Barnes then asked Holcomb to describe his one-to-three-year economic outlook for the state of Indiana. Holcomb expressed optimism when talking about the future of public project investments.

“I’m very bullish because I’ve seen the blueprints,” Holcomb said. “We’re funding projects that are going to be built over the next three to five years and beyond in some cases, and then we've got some plans to go beyond that.”

The Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI) Program, pushed by Governor Holcomb, was recently established to help secure Indiana as a national leader in regional collaboration and economic development.

There are 92 counties in Indiana self-selected regions in which they wanted to focus their county’s development. To help regions achieve their goals, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) will award up to $50 million per region to accelerate the implementation of regional development plans and the programs and programs identified that will catalyze economic and population growth.

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Holcomb said his administration is working to curb recent workforce shortages by implementing early-life education initiatives in K-12 schools. By teaching younger generations about the trades and setting them up with apprenticeships and vocational programs, Holcomb said Indiana is making strides to encourage future professionals to pursue careers in architecture, engineering, and construction.

“We have huge growth potential in our university and college system, but we have to back it up and start much earlier than that and expose students to their available pathways,” Holcomb said. “That comes down to a skills-based approach that is ongoing through high school. Getting folks attached to what they're passionate about and engaged in different types of work – it’s not just needed, but it's probably the most responsible thing to do to."

The Importance of Political Advocacy
AGC of Indiana recently relaunched the AGC of Indiana Political Action Committee (PAC), a nonpartisan political action committee that gives AGC of Indiana member companies and their employees a chance to combine their voices and influence the political process.

Barnes, Advocacy Chair for AGC of Indiana, outlined three realms of focus for the AGC of Indiana PAC during his presentation: At Home, In the Hall, and On the Hill.

At home, Barnes encourages AGC members to continue engaging with the people they see every day (neighbors, coworkers, etc.) to understand how the AEC industry can help them.

"While maybe not on as grand a scale as some other situations, we still have to be engaged with these folks,” Barnes said. “We have to understand their needs, wants, and their challenges so we can support them.”

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In the Hall refers to the Indiana Statehouse. Barnes said legislation passed or rejected at the Statehouse directly affects many aspects of this industry. For that reason, Barnes said AGC believes it critical to help legislators understand the impact of their decisions on the AEC community.

On the Hill refers to AGC of Indiana’s pursuit to guide policymakers on Capitol Hill with a united voice.

“National policymakers have massive, sweeping impacts on our industry,” Barnes said. “We need to be close, we need to be engaged, and we need to know what's going on so we can help educate.”

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