As we say farewell to 2021 and prepare to welcome in the New Year, we also welcome a new legislative session for the Indiana General Assembly. The Indiana Technology & Innovation Association (ITIA) recently released its policy agenda for the 2022 session, which begins January 4. 

TechPoint works closely with ITIA to ensure that policy makers see the value and significant growth opportunities of our growing Indiana tech ecosystem. ITIA is led and represented by Jennifer Hallowell and Molly Gilaspie who work tirelessly throughout each legislative session to ensure that tech companies have a collective voice and representation before Indiana’s state leaders and legislators. TechPoint’s CEO Mike Langellier serves on the ITIA board of directors and chairs the talent policy committee. 

The ITIA legislative agenda is focused on four key categories: talent, capital, place and equity. The entire ITIA legislative preview can be viewed here, with each specific area covered below.

Tech Talent Policy

As tech continues fusing with every aspect of our lives, and tech careers become a larger part of the economy, it’s imperative that Hoosiers are ready to meet these new challenges with the skills of tomorrow. ITIA continues to advocate for robust investment in the educational journeys of native Hoosiers. They have also recognized that a shift has occurred in where and how people choose to live, work and play. In many cases, a tech worker in the hotbeds of California, Massachusetts or New York prior to the pandemic, now has the opportunity to work remotely and live in a completely different place. This shift creates a unique opportunity for Indiana to capitalize on these new “free agents” who are looking for a new home with an improved quality of life. 

With this new reality, ITIA supports state- and local-based incentives for attracting people who want to relocate to Indiana to work remotely. The organization is focused on ensuring that state and local economic development groups have the appropriate tools to help attract that tech talent to Indiana. This includes developing new incentive programs or adjusting existing incentives to better align opportunities with the current market realities. 

ITIA strongly supports the following talent policies & initiatives: 

  • Incentives such as tuition reimbursement or tax credits for students who graduate from an Indiana postsecondary institution with a degree in a high-demand field and choose to stay in Indiana for a set period of time after graduation. 
  • Encouraging the Indiana Destination Development Corporation to incorporate targeted and data-driven tactics to recruit tech workers to relocate to Indiana.
  •  Ensuring IT credentials are a key part of higher education offerings and state workforce programs, incentivizing institutions to offer this credentialing or partner with entities that do so, and ongoing funding to encourage credential attainment, such as through Next Level Jobs and the Indiana Career Accelerator Fund. 
  • Continued funding and efforts to ensure K-12 schools can meet the requirement to offer computer science education, including resources to train or hire computer science educators or partner with third party entities to offer computer science education.
  •  Adding the Science Indiana Learning Evaluation Assessment Readiness Network (ILEARN) score to the school report card to encourage a stronger focus on STEM curriculum in K-12. Efforts to expand technology- and innovation-based Career & Technical Education (CTE) pathways. 
  • Funding and incentives for technology-focused career exploration and discovery programs in schools, such as tech competitions, robotics clubs, scholastic e-sports and makerspaces.
  •  ITIA supports specific funding for robotics programs and robotics coaches at the K-12 level. 
  • Efforts to connect more industry professionals to the classroom, including streamlining the licensure process and offering incentives for industry professionals to teach. 
  • Enabling and incentivizing K-12 teachers or third parties to skill up in STEM, computer science, cyber security and IT in order to effectively teach these skills to students.

Venture Capital in Tech

Indiana is closing out a record year of venture capital investment in tech companies. ITIA believes the state must continue to drive innovation and foster new job creation and that Indiana entrepreneurs must have access to capital to spur growth in 2022. ITIA is driving forward policies and programs that help accelerate high growth and high promise entrepreneurial ventures throughout Indiana. A core focus includes continued investment and accelerated deployment of Next Level Fund dollars into Indiana-based funds and companies, as well as supporting the creation of new Indiana-based venture capital funds.

ITIA strongly supports the following venture capital policies & initiatives: 

  • Increasing the State’s Phase 1 and Phase 2 matches for the federal Small Business Innovation Research  and Small Business Technology Transfer grants. 
  • Efforts to fund and grow regional programs to accelerate new, Indiana-based innovation companies and encourage the development of regional tech and innovation hubs.
  • Ongoing commitment to the Venture Capital Investment Tax Credit program.

Placemaking Policy

Over the past few decades, Indiana has attracted companies and jobs by building a strong reputation as a business-friendly state. As the world enters a new chapter of where and how citizens live, work and play, ITIA believes it is critically important that Indiana is an attractive place for the individuals and families working in the tech ecosystem. Hoosier policy makers and businesses must continue to focus on improving quality of life metrics important to today’s workforce, including diversity, equality and sustainability, to name a few.

ITIA also supports efforts to improve connectivity in Indiana with the deployment of fiber and the expansion of Certified Tech Parks throughout Indiana..  

ITIA strongly supports the following placemaking policies & initiatives: 

  • Ongoing investment in the Next Level Connections Broadband Grant program, and the creation of state and local programs that help increase broadband adoption among consumers and businesses. 
  • Encouraging the state to verify and ensure that essential security controls are properly implemented on cloud systems that process, store, and/or transmit government data, and to facilitate the development of cybersecurity guidelines and best practices as a resource for state and local government. 
  • Efforts to grow Indiana’s network of coworking spaces and innovation hubs that facilitate entrepreneurship and remote work. 
  • Continued investment in adding more non-stop domestic and international flights. 
  • Continued exemption of software as a service from the state’s sales tax. 
  • Adoption of federal data privacy legislation, rather than a patchwork of state-by-state regulations in order to provide certainty and consistency to both consumers and businesses. 
  • A state-level policy framework and rules of operation for the testing and deployment of autonomous vehicle technology, as well as allowing for certain vehicles to operate without drivers (full level five automation). Efforts to facilitate and accelerate Indiana’s transition to clean energy, and to embrace clean energy technology and innovation, including electric vehicle development, battery storage and more. 
  • Encouraging the Indiana Destination Development Corporation to highlight companies, entrepreneurs and tech talent who have chosen Indiana as part of its efforts to rebrand and promote the state. 
  • Ensuring that any attempts to legislate how social media platforms moderate content clearly exclude the wide range of technology platforms that allow communication between users, but do not meet the standard of a social media platform

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Policies in Tech

For Indiana’s tech sector to thrive and have long term and sustainable success, ITIA believes its members must ensure that diversity, equity and inclusion is a top priority. ITIA cites a 2021 report by BuiltIn, in which 44 percent of tech companies surveyed reported that their teams are at least 71 percent White, and 53 percent said women make up less than 40 percent of their workforce. Of users surveyed, nearly half (47 percent) identify as White, 21 percent identify as Black, and 12 percent identify as LatinX or Hispanic. ITIA is committed to carrying this message to state lawmakers to ensure Indiana’s tech community is vibrant, diverse and representative. 

ITIA strongly supports the following DE&I policies & initiatives: 

  • Efforts to demystify tech and further expand the term “Computer Science” to be more representative of various tech disciplines to help attract K-12 students, especially girls and students of color to pursue tech credentials. 
  • Efforts to recruit and support diverse teachers, particularly in STEM fields.
  •  Efforts to expand the Last Mile program in Indiana, which prepares incarcerated individuals for successful reentry through business and technology training.
  • Recommending that any State-funded entities, such as Elevate Ventures and Next Level Fund, that invest in Indiana businesses record and report annually on the number of investments and the amount of money invested into women, minority and veteran owned companies. 
  • ITIA also recommends that any venture fund receiving state dollars record and report annually on the number of investments and the amount of money invested into women, minority and veteran owned companies. 
  • Encouraging State agencies and State-funded entities that support the tech and innovation community, such as the IEDC, Elevate Ventures and the Next Level Fund, to prioritize diversity within their own organizations and ensure underrepresented populations have positions on staff and in leadership and decision-making roles.
  •  Ongoing efforts to report and identify disparities through the Public Disparity Data Portal to show how our state programs are working. 
  • Efforts to combat bias, discrimination and racism in Indiana, and improve quality of life and place for impacted populations so that they can succeed in the workforce and beyond.

The TechPoint team fully supports the ITIA’s  legislative agenda. In addition to ITIA, get familiar with the Indiana Chamber of Commerce’s activities in support of the state’s economic health. Check out the 2022 Legislative Priorities of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce priorities, and stay tuned to VP of Technology and Economic Development Adam Berry for updates

We encourage members of the Indiana technology community to get – and stay – engaged in the legislative session this year. Your elected officials value your opinion and feedback on important issues affecting our state.