Creating job opportunities, growing the local economy, increasing access to child care and supporting our schools are important to Hoosiers in our community. Together, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, State Sen. Mark Messmer of Jasper, myself and other local officials from the area understand these are crucial issues and are dedicated to tackling them.
Key to Indiana's recovery from the economic fallout of COVID-19 is supporting local job providers while attracting new business, and then ensuring those in our community have the skills needed to fill these positions. Initiatives like Next Level Jobs and INvets are great tools for those looking to step into the more than 90,000 available, in-demand jobs throughout southern Indiana. These programs provide free schooling to skill up in order to work in high-demand industries.
To explore these opportunities, visit NextLevelJobs.org, IndianaCareerReady.com or INvets.org.
Tourism also plays a significant role in our local economy, and at the recent summit I hosted, we learned that population decline is impacting our communities. The area is blessed with natural and man-made attractions, and many – including myself – make a living from the tourism industry. We can continue to capitalize on these assets to attract visitors, entrepreneurs and the jobs they provide.
With more Hoosiers working now, the state's unemployment rate is fortunately declining. As employees head back to work, finding child care is becoming even more of a priority and necessity for many families. The child care industry is roughly 90% privately ran and many parents are searching for providers for their children in case schools move to remote learning at any point throughout the year, according to the Council of State Governments. While other industries are recovering at a faster rate, child care facilities are not fully in operation yet for a number of reasons. To help families find early childhood programs in their communities, parents can use Indiana's statewide network of providers in southern Indiana at child-care.org.
As always, supporting our students, teachers and schools is crucial. Our K-12 schools will be fully funded this year and next, including an increase of $183 million in funding for schools during the next fiscal year. In addition, Indiana PK-12 schools and higher education institutions can now apply for a needs-based, competitive $61.6 million grant program providing funding to improve remote learning.
I want to thank all of those who participated in the summit, and I look forward to us gathering again to discuss topics regarding education, public safety and veterans. As your state representative, input from constituents and local leaders helps me better serve our community. Please keep reaching out to my office by emailing H74@iga.in.gov or calling 317-232-9802. It is a pleasure to serve as your state representative and may God continue to bless House District 74.
State Rep. Stephen Bartels (R-Eckerty) represents House District 74,
which includes portions of Spencer, Dubois, Perry, Crawford and Orange counties.
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