INDIANAPOLIS (May 6, 2015) – The result of months of negotiations and a last-minute lobbying campaign, Gov. Mike Pence signed the regional cities initiative into law Wednesday.
The measure will allow economic development groups to compete for millions of dollars meant to attract new residents to Indiana. In the state budget, which Pence will sign into law Thursday, $84 million dollars was set aside in the next two years.
“We’ve been taking that message all over the United States of America,” Pence said at the signing held at the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.
The initiative, one of Pence’s top legislative proprieties, is just one of a number of economic issues the administration hopes will rebuild the state’s image after the commercial and business community threatened Indiana’s economy over the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
On Saturday Pence will travel to China for a week-long trade mission, where he’ll make stops in Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou.
“Really telling the story in the advantages of investment in the state of Indiana, and we’re very hopeful that’ it’s going to be a successful trip,” Pence said in a one-on-one interview with CBS4 Wednesday. “But I’m very convinced when you look at where Indiana stands, a state with a balanced budget, low taxes and right to work, and obviously the greatest workforce in America, that we’ve got a great story to tell.”
Pence’s economic record will be his target. The governor hasn’t officially announced a re-election bid, but all indications are he’ll seek another term.
Democrat John Gregg, who lost a close race to Pence in 2012, announced last week he’s running for governor again.
Gregg said Pence has focused too much on social issues and not enough on the economy.
“Indiana’s lost millions of dollars in business,” Gregg said in a campaign video. “Companies are halting expansions and threatening to leave.”
In China, Pence will meet with top Chinese executives, along with Indiana businesses with operations overseas including Eli Lilly and Cummins.
“I think that the growth in Indiana’s economy really speaks for itself,” Pence said. “But I’m determined to continue to build on that momentum whether it’s traveling overseas to China next week, whether it’s telling Indiana’s story around the country, we’re going to continue to tell the story that Indiana’s the best place in America to start a business and grow a business.”