(The Center Square) – Social and financial issues took centerstage in the Hoosier state in 2022 as the Legislature passed an abortion law, attracted billions in manufacturing investment and attacked plunging test scores with more than $50-million in new educational initiatives.
In June, Indiana became one of the first states to grapple with the issue of abortion in the post-Roe v. Wade era. Lawmakers, who had been called into a special session to consider a taxpayer give-back, passed a near-total ban on abortion Aug. 5.
Debate over the bill showed divisions within the Republican Caucus as a handful of GOP lawmakers from both chambers opposed it while those in the Senate rejected an amendment, later included to allow abortion in cases of rape, incest or danger to the life of the pregnant woman.
The bill drew significant public controversy, as a number of employers voiced concern it would deter their recruiting efforts and crowds of pro-choice protestors descended on the Statehouse during debate on the bill. Polling in the state has repeatedly shown most Hoosiers favor the legalization of abortion in at least some cases.
Indiana was the first state to act legislatively after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe in June. Three days earlier, Kansas voters had rejected a ballot measure that would have removed abortion rights from that state’s Constitution.
The tech sector dominated economic news in the Hoosier state as Indiana drew commitments to invest over $22.2 billion in the state, much of that in the semiconductor and EV industries.
Overall, 218 companies decided to locate or expand operations in the state, committing to invest $22.2 billion and create more than 24,000 new jobs, according to Gov. Eric Holcomb.
That capital investment was 260% higher than the previous year, Holcomb said in a Dec. 14 statement, and is expected to create jobs with an average wage of $34.71, the highest amount in both categories in the 17-year history of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.
Notable commitments were made to the state in the area of high-tech manufacturing, including the microchip and electric vehicle industries.
Taiwan-based MediaTek announced in June it will partner with Purdue University to create a microchip design center in Tippecanoe County, creating about 30 high-paying jobs in the area.
Minnesota-based SkyWater Technology announced plans in July to invest $1.8B to create Indiana’s first microchip production facility in Tippecanoe County.
Four American-owned semiconductor companies announced in November a total of $277 million to begin operations in Odon, Indiana. Operations will be located at WestGate One, a new semiconductor manufacturing park.
Michigan-based company soulbrain MI announced this month that it plans to establish manufacturing operations in Kokomo, Indiana, investing $75 million to create a facility to produce material for electric vehicle batteries. The company expected to employ 75 workers according to a statement.
The state has pledged more than $100 million in conditional tax incentives and grants to these employers.
Other significant capital investments came in the agriculture sciences, including from Elanco Animal Health, which broke ground on a new global headquarters in Indianapolis this spring.
Mexico-based Atarraya, will invest $4.8 million to establish a large-scale sustainable shrimp farm in Indianapolis. New Jersey-based Do Good Foods will invest $100 million to create an animal feed production operation in Fort Wayne. Minnesota-based Living Green Farms will invest $70 million to create an indoor farming, processing and packaging facility in Muncie, and Intelinair moved its headquarters from Illinois to Indiana this year.
Indiana Secretary of Education Katie Jenner took on the problem of falling test scores by Indiana school children with a slate of initiatives aimed at reversing the decade-long trend.
Jenner announced a $111 million spending program in August to achieving 95% reading proficiency among third graders in five years. The current level is 81.6%, down from 94.1% a decade ago. Funds will be used to implement a science-based approach to teaching reading.
Tutoring grants of up to $500 per qualifying fourth- or fifth-grade student were made available in October, to be used for additional help in math or language arts. That amount may be matched with up to $500 from the student’s school.
Teacher recruitment and retention grants of $10 million were announced in October, doubling the previously announced funding for the Attract, Prepare, Retain grant program.
Indiana Teachers of English Language Learners, a $2 million partnership between Indiana and the University of Indiana launched in November to help generate more teachers of English as a second language in Indiana schools.
Each of the education projects was funded in total or in part with federal money from the American Rescue Plan or the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund.