Gerry Dick speaks on state’s economic future at OneZone Chamber of Commerce event
By Anna Skinner
In his Nov. 9 presentation during the OneZone Chamber of Commerce Luncheon at Forum Conference Center in Fishers, Gerry Dick recapped the results of the election and what they means for the state and nation, as well as speaking on what to expect regarding Indiana’s 2017 business economy.
The president and managing editor of “Grow Indiana Ventures” and host of “Inside Indiana Business” on WFYI spoke about the passing of Marion County’s mass transit referendum, the changing of hands with the superintendent of public instruction election and a low unemployment rate due to an educated work force in Indiana. He gave some credit to forward looking mayors in the Indianapolis area.
“We have mayors who have a vision for the community and are not afraid to act on that whether here in Fishers or Carmel, and I would certainly add in Westfield and Noblesville as well,” Dick said. “Here in Fishers, there are not only high-profile projects like IKEA, but there are investments coming to Hamilton County and particularly here in Fishers with tech companies like CloudOne, an Internet of Things company, Pie Lab and Edwin the Duck (in Carmel.) There’s an intentional plan about being innovative and supporting entrepreneurs in this region that I think is very important and has achieved a lot of things currently. I think the future looks very bright indeed.”
Dick applauded Indiana’s collaboration, manufacturing, orthopedic, agricultural and rural economic development.
“We are beginning to see collaboration. Problems still exist but regions of the state – cities, counties — have competed against each other, and those barriers I think are beginning to be broken down,” Dick said. “I think OneZone commerce is a great example of that collaboration that is taking place.”
In the next five years, approximately 62 percent of workers will require some form of post-high school education. Currently, only 42 percent of central Indiana’s population meets that post-secondary education requirement. Dick addressed the widening gap between hard and soft skills, encouraging millennials to strengthen their communication skills to be able to stand out among businesses.
“Part of it is the technology, which is on one hand the greatest thing in the world, but on other hand, over and over if I ask a CEO or HR person what is lacking in students you see coming in and interviewing for jobs and communications skills are right at top of the list,” Dick said. “Professionals are seeing very smart, young people who can’t write a basic business memo or communicate verbally. Anytime I’m speaking to students, (I tell them), ‘If you can communicate and own that skill, you’ll stand out above the field by a long shot.’”
At the end of his presentation, Dick took questions from the audience, with one regarding what Indiana isn’t doing to attract new businesses. One Dick’s answers revolved around the overall health of Indiana residents.
“We’ve got so many things like cost of living and quality of life, but we have to have the training and the skilled workers,” he said. “Improvements (to the parks and trails) make the area nicer to live in to attract talent but also making us healthy.”