[r75] Creating jobs, educating our entrepreneurs, and easing the burden (3/18/2011)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Start Date: 3/18/2011 All Day
End Date: 3/18/2011

Creating jobs, educating our entrepreneurs, and easing the burden

After a fourth week of not being able to take action on any of the bills still on our calendar, I wanted to take this week's column to talk about a few bills that were able to make it through the House this session that will really impact Hoosiers in a positive way. These bills were created to help promote job growth in the state. Unfortunately, however, they have not received much notice outside of the Statehouse.

House Bill (HB) 1005 makes adjustments to current tax credits for businesses. Currently, a business is eligible for tax credits for moving into a building that has been at least 75% vacant for two years or more and has 250,000 square feet in open floor space. HB1005 amends these requirements by lowering the number of years vacant to one year and lowering the vacancy space requirements to at least 50% vacant and 25,000 square feet of floor space. This tax credit is to give incentive and aid for businesses that wish to grow or move their business from out of state into Indiana and thereby provide more jobs for Hoosiers across the state, especially in areas that suffered when a business left the otherwise vacant building. HB 1005 was approved unanimously by the House and has moved on to the Senate.

Another bill, HB 1006, helps entrepreneurs in the state by setting up a one-stop shop online where someone can go to register a business and obtain the necessary permits and licenses. It also calls for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) to work with local development organizations across the state to further stimulate economic growth through close collaboration. Under HB 1006, the IEDC would also encourage colleges and universities across the state to collaborate with local businesses and economic development organizations to develop customized training programs for hi-tech businesses. It would also set up a partnership between the Indiana Department of Education, the Commission for Higher Education, and the IEDC to set up a curriculum for entrepreneurship programs in high schools across the state. This bill also received unanimous support in the House and is awaiting further review in the Senate.

HB 1007 provides many incentives, aids, and tax breaks for businesses and Hoosiers alike. Through this bill, counties would be able to approve tax exemptions for certain types of personal property, and a property owner would be able to deduct part of the cost of rehabilitating a building that is at least 25 years old from their taxes. Businesses would receive tax exemptions on enterprise information technology equipment, and businesses would also be subject to tax breaks for moving into a large, vacant building; agreeing to invest at least $10 million in the community; occupying and renovating certain property in a downtown area; or locating in a county with high unemployment. HB 1007 also allows local governments to give hiring incentives to local businesses. Like the others, this bill received unanimous support and is waiting in the Senate for debate.

A bill I co-authored, HB 1251, is currently sitting on the governor's desk for approval after passing unanimously through the House and Senate. It sets up a Young Entrepreneurs Program for students graduating in entrepreneurship programs across the state. Previews would be held at least once a year, in which local communities bid to bring a young entrepreneur's business to their community.

And there was another bill, HB 1008, that doubled the amount of venture capital an Indiana business could qualify for from $500,000 to $1 million. And, like all of the others I mentioned, it passed unanimously through the House. It is now making its way through the Senate.

All of these bills were drafted to bring businesses to Indiana, encourage and help businesses already in the state to expand and thereby increase the number of jobs available to Hoosiers, educate our upcoming entrepreneurs, and ease the burden on Hoosiers across the state. We have been accused of not doing anything about the current unemployment situation in the state, but I believe that these bills show that this is simply not the case.

After the fourth week that the Democrats have shirked their democratic responsibilities at the Statehouse by remaining in Illinois, seeing these job creation bills passing unanimously is always comforting because it shows that both sides can indeed agree on some things. As the Speaker has said, "we will work with the willing." 

Even though I am saddened by the Democrats' unwillingness to work with us, I am pleased to move forward with important legislation that affects all Hoosiers as we begin hearing and debating bills with the Senate.

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Rep. Ron Bacon (R-Chandler)