02.25.21

NIIC President & CEO Testifies to Indiana Senate on the Importance of Tech Parks

Karl R. LaPan, CEO & President, The NIIC

Karl R. LaPan, President and CEO of The NIIC, recently testified before the Indiana Senate Committee on Tax & Fiscal Policy in favor of Senate Bill 213 — a bill which would expand funding for the state’s Certified Technology Parks (CTPs).

Good morning and thank you, Mr. Chair & Members of the Committee. I am Karl LaPan, President and CEO – The NIIC in Fort Wayne.

I want to thank you for the opportunity to testify in favor of the CTP bill. Also, I want to thank Senator Holdman for his efforts and involvement in improvements of the statute over time and for the partnership with OMB and IEDC to provide a more robust re-certification process and for advances toward greater Park sustainability and appropriate use of taxpayer funds.

The Governor, and CICP’s recent Brookings Report, cited Indiana’s enviable position as “third in the nation in the concentration of industries of the future and identified advanced industry sector development,” a key pillar of CTPs statewide as strategic to substantial regional recoveries throughout Indiana.

Certified tech parks & innovation place-making are critical components of the recovery and resilience infrastructure needed for Indiana’s technology competitiveness. As noted in the Brookings Report, “Indiana is short on entrepreneurship.”

And let me just share three quick observations of how CTPs are a crucial engine for boosting economic growth, opportunity, and prosperity in Indiana.

First, CTPs never stopped delivering innovative and virtual services throughout the pandemic’s dislocations and crisis. We stayed open for business serving distressed businesses and promising growth businesses. Two of our Park clients obtained over $6.0 million of non-dilutive funding this past year. Our women’s business center served nearly 500 women-owned businesses. CTPs were a beacon of hope during the crisis.

Second, as the February 2021 Brookings Report recommended, an essential strategy for resilience is “promoting favorable job creation by enhancing entrepreneurship & small business development, focusing on entrepreneurs of color.” In fact, at our Park, we were awarded four federal and foundation support entrepreneurship contracts and grants to deliver services to inclusive and diverse entrepreneurs and historically excluded populations of business builders- this includes people with disabilities, immigrants, rural, vets, and others. CTPs are a gateway to fuller access & economic prosperity.

Third, CTPs deliver “good jobs” – higher quality, higher-paying jobs and companies in Hoosier communities. The Brookings report states, “Indiana has too few good jobs.” Brookings also observed only 42% of Hoosiers have a good job. A “good job” threshold for Northeast Indiana in the report was $35,500 a year. Last year, in the depths of the crisis, our CTP average wage was $76,522, and our 16-year average was $55,992 or 57% to 116% higher than our region’s ‘good job’ threshold. This was at a time when our region’s growth in per capita income declined. CTPs are economic engines. Indiana’s ambition is to elevate its aspiration trajectory, and CTPs are integral to making that aspiration reach happen.

Finally, thank you for your continued recognition and investment in a program that builds bridges to industries of the future, energizes entrepreneurship and innovation across the state, and a program that creates “access” opportunities for all segments of our communities to more fully participate in economic prosperity.

Thank you.

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