Mar 19, 2024 - News

Chambers lays out economic development plan for Indiana

A man in front of a podium that says "play to win"

Brad Chambers announced his economic development plan at the Indiana IoT Lab in Fishers. Photo: Arika Herron/Axios

Gubernatorial candidate Brad Chambers seeks to set himself apart from a crowded field of GOP hopefuls with policy positions that include doubling down on his defense of the controversial LEAP District.

Why it matters: Chambers is one of six Republicans on the May primary ballot hoping to succeed Gov. Eric Holcomb, who is term-limited.

  • Whoever wins the GOP nomination will likely be the favorite in the general election against Democratic and Libertarian challengers.

The big picture: Chambers is competing against U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, Eric Doden, former Attorney General Curtis Hill and Jamie Reitenour.

  • He's one of two former chairs of the Indiana Economic Development Corp., one of two Holcomb-appointed Cabinet members and one of three wealthy businessmen able to fund his own campaign in the field.

Driving the news: Chambers released a 10-point economic policy plan yesterday, attempting to shift the narrative in a Republican race that's recently seen candidates leaning in on attack lines over substantive policy debate.

  • His competitors have used concern over the LEAP District and the plan to pipe millions of gallons of water to the site to ding Chambers and the "top-down" approach of the IEDC that rankled local leaders.
  • The enormous economic development project in Boone County is Chambers' legacy from his two years leading the state's economic development efforts.
  • Yesterday, Chambers said he'd push to complete the LEAP District as governor and develop other sites like it.

What he's saying: "I put us in a position to be ready, with the LEAP Innovation District," Chambers said. "We're either going to focus on high-wage careers, growing our economy, keeping our kids and our grandkids in Indiana, or we're not. It's that simple."

In addition to creating more "development-ready" sites around the state, Chambers' plan calls for an unnamed Cabinet-level position that "manages, optimizes and protects" the state's water resources, and the creation of a plan "that will allow Indiana to strategically use its abundant water supply to grow our economy while ensuring a stable supply for local communities."

Yes, but: Chambers may have a hard time winning trust here.

  • It was under his tenure that the IEDC started a water feasibility study that has since been moved to the Indiana Finance Authority over concerns about transparency and the IEDC funding a study to support its own project.
  • That distrust could linger if Chambers is elected and is seen as using the governor's office to complete a controversial project he spearheaded.

What's next: In-person early voting starts April 9.

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