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Local Business Leaders Hoping for Economic Rebound in ‘23

November 16, 2023

Andy Knight, The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON — Legislative activity in the current session of the Indiana General Assembly is being closely followed by local business leaders and entrepreneurs hoping to see signs of an economic turnaround in the new year.

Persistent inflation moderated the spending habits of thousands of consumers locally, which cut into the paychecks of many workers employed in discretionary sectors including restaurants and retailers.

“I just think there’s a lot of uncertainty,” said Clayton Whitson, president and CEO of the Madison County Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s a little bit of a weird time with inflation and prices being high, but at the same time we’re still cranking out record job numbers — there’s still a ton of jobs to be had.”

Although Madison County’s November 2022 unemployment rate of 3.1% was only slightly higher than the statewide average of 2.8%, the county’s per-capita personal income of $45,755 ranked 78th out of 92 in the state.

Combined with higher prices on food, gasoline and other essentials, sluggish earnings remain a key driver of restraint in spending, according to local business leaders.

“Inflation is probably the biggest single driver that we have that’s affecting everything,” said Rob Sparks, executive director of the Corporation for Economic Development in Madison County. “It’s just going to affect how people do things. You can absorb some of those costs for a period of time, but only for a period of time — not indefinitely.”

Sparks said the local labor market appears to be weathering the storm well and added that he anticipates continued healthy growth in that area in 2023. Local businesses, he noted, are in many cases competing for workers, which inevitably will translate into higher wages.

“The volatility we’ve experienced over the last 18 months, I think it’s going to stabilize,” he said. “(Companies) are feeling optimistic about the direction it’s going, and that’s a good thing.”

Whitson said over the next few months, he’ll be following legislation at the Statehouse that would provide tax incentives to support small businesses in early stage growth and scaling. That funding would also mitigate startup risks and, he said, “would boost our entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

With a more wary eye, Whitson said he’ll also be tracking conversations among lawmakers that could lead to legislation that would shift tax burdens from residential properties to other tax classes.

“I know everybody wants to say that we need to be taxing corporations more, but what it

would really do is place an undue burden on our small business community."



Read below on community programs and development in Madison County.
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