America respects hard work, and since 1894, we’ve observed Labor Day to honor the millions of men and women in the workforce across our nation. As a state legislator, I am committed to making sure Indiana continues to be a great place to work, and all Hoosiers have an opportunity to skill up and seize new opportunities.
With Indiana’s Next Level Jobs initiative, more than 50,000 Hoosiers have enrolled in free training for high-paying, in-demand positions. Workforce Ready Grants cover tuition costs for Hoosiers to earn an eligible, high-value certificate from Ivy Tech Community College or Vincennes University. Students can also continue working while training part-time. Hoosiers who earn a certificate see an average annual median wage increase of $6,800. Employers can also benefit by training and retaining workers to meet their immediate and future needs.
To support upward mobility, I voted for a new law allowing those 24 years old or younger in a home receiving TANF benefits to earn up to $15,000 through internships or work-based learning programs without jeopardizing their family’s assistance. Previously, many young adults from low-income families didn’t pursue certain job opportunities because their wages could negatively impact their family’s benefits.
Our state is also investing $500 million in the Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (or READI) to encourage local governments to team up to make their communities a magnet for new jobs. Knox, Pike, Spencer, Perry and Harrison counties have teamed up to form the Southwest Region to apply for READI grants.
This year, I also supported a $60 million investment to expand the Hoosier Hospitality Small Business Restart Grant Program. Eligible small businesses can receive grants to cover a portion of business and payroll-related expenses to recover from the pandemic.
Indiana’s economic engine is running strong, and employers need to fill in-demand, high-wage jobs. Hoosiers need to be ready to fill those positions. To learn about free training opportunities to gain highly sought-after skills, visit nextleveljobs.org. To apply for a Small Business Restart Grant before the Dec. 31 deadline, visit backontrack.in.gov. I hope everyone has a fun and safe Labor Day holiday, and I thank the Hoosiers in southwest Indiana who work hard to support themselves and their families.