Indiana Manufacturers Association Touts Strength of Industry, in Spite of Workforce Challenges


Indiana’s manufacturing industry is strong, but if it’s going to stay that way, the state has some workforce issues to solve. That’s according to Brian Burton, the president and CEO of the Indiana Manufacturers Association.

Speaking at the 2018 Pulaski County Economic Development Summit Tuesday, Burton said markets and production are good, but difficulty with finding qualified workers is holding production back. Now, he says business owners and investors are instead turning to technology upgrades, in an effort to increase production. However, he pointed out that Indiana’s population challenges are not as severe those facing Illinois or Michigan.

He said Indiana is the most manufacturing-intensive state, according to Burton, with the manufacturing sector making up 29 percent of the state’s gross domestic product and employing well over half a million Hoosiers. He added that while technology-related jobs often get more of the attention, manufacturing is far more important to the state’s economy and the average wage is similar.

Burton explained that Indiana is benefiting from a growing U.S. economy. He said it has solid momentum, but the past few weeks have seen an increase in market volatility, due to tariff concerns. The tariffs would have a mixed effect on Indiana manufacturers. Burton said it would benefit the state’s large steel and aluminum manufacturing industry, but hurt other manufacturers who rely on steel.

While reviewing the 2018 Indiana legislative session, Burton said several key bills failed to pass before the deadline. One was a federal tax conformity bill, which may be dealt with in a special session next month. A proposal to add regulations for autonomous vehicle development also didn’t pass, but Burton said it could be brought back next year. He warned that it could discourage automakers from making investments in Indiana in the future.