Terre Haute, Ind. – With the start of the legislative session at the Indiana Statehouse, the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce’s advocacy for West Central Indiana is well underway. The Chamber hopes to focus its efforts on several initiatives ranging from the federal to the local level.
“There are a lot of opportunities to help Terre Haute continue its momentum in the coming legislative session with infrastructure and education having potential for big developments,” said Kristin Craig, Executive Director of the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce. “After several big wins for the community during last year’s session, we want to help ensure that Terre Haute stays on track for achieving its goals when it comes to the Community Plan.”
“Each year the Chamber takes an active role in the Indiana Legislative process and this year is no different,” said John Collett who co-chairs the Chamber’s advocacy board. “We strive to educate our members on relevant legislation that might impact their business as well as advocate for programs and funding initiatives to ensure that West Central Indiana is positioned for success in the future.” Collett is employed by Garmong Construction and serves in a variety of leadership roles for the Chamber.
Building Terre Haute’s already expansive education sector is a top priority this session. The Chamber views the Goodwill Excel Center as a great way to encourage further growth. The state-funded high school degree program, targeted at adult learners, helps its students earn high school diplomas and industry recognized certifications.
“The Excel Center is an incredible opportunity to provide high school degrees to adults throughout West Central Indiana,” Craig said. “A workforce development driver that has been proven statewide, Excel Centers operate under the Goodwill umbrella and provide an unique experience for adult learners, including on-site childcare, employment-friendly scheduling and one-on-one counselors.”
The Chamber will also continue to follow the progress of the statewide funding initiative, Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI).
“We are urging legislators to continue the READI funding program, but adding guardrails that allow all regions across the state to benefit and not relying solely on population numbers,” Craig said. “West Central Indiana has a great deal to offer, and as we’ve shown with the funds received through the first round of READI, we will put those state monies to good use in growing and expanding our region.”
The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) has oversight of the READI program. In the last round, the West Central region was awarded $20 million for projects in the area. That money went to 24 projects throughout the area and the impact from those projects is already being felt today.
Improvements to the main avenues into Terre Haute are also a key component of maintaining the economic health of West Central Indiana. “As we all know, I-70 is one of the most important pieces of infrastructure in our region. Unfortunately, it has also proven itself unsafe time and time again,” Craig said. “On behalf of the business community, we urge legislators to keep improvements to this stretch in mind as they look at spending of transportation dollars, in hopes that a third lane and possibly a third exit, could be added in Vigo County.”
The Chamber is currently advocating for the expansion of I-70 to include a third lane.