Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb remains hopeful that proposed investments in public health, housing, early childhood education, school safety and first responders will move forward during the final weeks of the legislative session.

During an exclusive interview with Western Wayne News during his March 23 visit to Blue Buffalo, Holcomb said it’s an “interesting” time, comparing it to the third quarter of high school basketball state finals.

He noted that state officials are currently focused on “investments in how we grow our economy, getting the necessary tools of the day, so the IEDC (Indiana Economic Development Corp.) can partner on more projects like this.”

Holcomb said lawmakers also are showing interest in investments in educational and workforce development and in public health, which he believes is central to economic development. “Companies like Blue Buffalo require not just a skilled-up workforce, but they require also a healthy workforce, and the state has a role in that,” Holcomb said.

Holcomb credited Richmond lawmakers Sen. Jeff Raatz and State Rep. Dr. Brad Barrett for their work on “really important pieces of legislation” such as a second round of funding for the state’s Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI) program.

The first $500 million leveraged up to about $7 billion in public and private partnerships, Holcomb said, and a second round has received “a very strong and welcome response in the legislature,” including from local representatives.

Holcomb is eager to help improve “housing, early childhood learning centers, community pride projects, be it in the downtown or in the county, rural areas, urban areas, suburban areas, all of the above.”

Holcomb also wants to pursue public safety initiatives that support first responders, ranging from state police to firefighters, both full-time and volunteer departments, as well as increase the budget for school safety grants.

“Those are all moving forward,” Holcomb said. “I don’t want to sound giddy, but this will be my last budget, and so I want to make sure we get this right, and so far, it’s on the right track.”

Holcomb also said he supports upcoming investments in Interstate 70, calling the highway critically important to accommodating travel through the state, especially for Hoosier businesses such as Blue Buffalo. He says I-70 puts Indiana on the map, helping the state live up to its motto of “Crossroads of America.”

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A version of this article appeared in the March 29 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Millicent Martin Emery is a reporter and editor for the Western Wayne News.