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Gubernatorial candidates take part in forum discussing the state of the economy and overall business climate

For the first time this primary season all eight candidates for governor took part in a forum.
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Posted at 9:56 PM, Mar 19, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-19 21:56:52-04

FISHERS — For the first time this primary season, all eight candidates for governor took part in a forum. The forum was hosted by the Indiana branch of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) , Americans for Prosperity of Indiana and the Indiana Builders association.

All of these organizations have a strong interest in the economy and overall business climate. In the crowd were NIFB members. During the forum each candidate got a minute for an opening and closing statement. They were asked a series of six questions with a minute for each to answer.

While the gubernatorial field is crowded, it’s something one business owner we spoke with says is a good thing. Many say they didn’t know much about the candidates until the forum. While that might be the case, those in the audience have some of the same concerns. One business owner we spoke with says they feel there needs to be more balance in Indiana government.

"We need a balance in government definitely,” Kardik Patel who owns a handful of smaller hotels in Indiana said. “Things happening right now there is so much one way. "

Another topic of discussion among business owners is the regulations they face. For developers and builders, they would like to see the state of Indiana reduce regulations.

“I would like to see deregulation,” Loren King with Trinitas Ventures said. "We can be more efficient; we can be more effective. Indiana can support a solid regulatory environment, but a more efficient and effective one so small business can thrive. “

Some business owners say that hiring for job openings is one of the most difficult challenges they face as business owners.

"Obviously trying to find help is a big issue,” Ty Spatta with Axis Painting said. “I think in the past the state has spent a lot of money on education and I think the problem does lie in education.”

That topic is one that each candidate addressed. Many have said that too many young people are leaving the state, and that the education system isn’t preparing young people for the jobs of today.
Meet the Candidates 

Senator Mike Bruan 
(R ) candidate for governor 

Mike Bruan currently serves as one of Indiana’s two U.S. Senators. Bruan has a background in business. He feels the biggest issue facing Indiana businesses is workforce. When asked what he thinks needs to be done to fill the workforce shortage he feels we need to make sure kids are going down the right career path. Not everyone needs a college degree.

"We need to flood parents and kids with transparency about high demand high wage jobs,” Braun said.

To learn more about his campaign click here.

Donald Rainwater
(L) candidate for governor 

Donald Rainwater is no stranger to the gubernatorial race. He ran in 2020. His name wont be on the primary ballot but rather the on the general election ballot. He feels the biggest issues for small business is how different corporate America is treated rather than small business. When asked how he would address the workforce shortage he in part had this to say:

"The small businesses in the state of Indiana need our attention and our education programs should be based on what parents think their children should learn,” Rainwater said.

For more information about his campaign click here.

Jamie Reitenour

( R) candidate for governor

Jamie Reitenour says she has been involved in politics for two years. She says she is running for governor because one day she was at a local Panera bread and people told her the lord has called upon her to serve. She feels there is a spiritual battle taking place and a moral crisis as well as a fight against socialism and capitalism. She believes conservationism will help small businesses. She feels improving education will better prepare kids for the jobs of tomorrow.

"Apprenticeships for every student in the state of Indiana,” Reitenour said. “We want to be the training capital of the United States of America that is Indiana Goodness. "

To learn more about her campaign click here.

Brad Chambers 
(R ) candidate for Governor 

Brad Chambers is a newcomer to politics. He is a lifelong Hoosier and entrepreneur. He says he started a real estate and building business when he was 20 years old as a sophomore at Indiana University. He says he's running for governor to give back and for a career change. He feels that Indiana needs to keep more of Indiana’s college graduates. He feels the state can do that by recruiting high paying jobs to the state.

"Recruit high wage jobs to keep our 80-thousand college kids then let’s fix education,” Chambers said. “Let’s make sure our third graders can read before they go on to 4th grade."

To learn more about his campaign click here.

Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch 
( R ) candidate for governor 

She says when she was a young woman she worked for her parents company and learned quickly that you have to wear many hats as a small business owner. She feels what can help business the most is eliminate the state income tax. She feels doing that will also bring needed employees to the state as well.

"When we are a no income tax state people will move here,” Crouch said. “Just like today they are moving to Tennessee, Texas, Florida and South Dakota no income tax states."

To learn more about her campaign click here.

Curtis Hill 
( R ) Candidate for Governor 

Curtis Hill is the former attorney general for the state of Indiana. He is running because he says he feels Hoosiers are hungry for proven conservative leadership. He feels that we are facing a crisis in our country and that government has let us down. He feels more trade options at an early age is one action that will solve the workers shortage in Indiana.

"We need to make sure that vocational opportunities are available and plentiful to make sure we can fill the pipelines of the future,” Hill said.

To learn more about his campaign click here.

Eric Doden 
( R ) candidate for governor 

He feels the biggest issue facing business is the attraction and retention of talent. He says what he has seen the importance of in his career is a bold vision. He says he is the only candidate that has one. He feels small towns have been ignored and forgotten. He says it’s time for state government to invest in all 92 counties.

"It can't just be government coming in and training it has to be a partnership between business leaders and local leaders, so I think competition is going to be critical.,” Doden said.

To learn more about his campaign click here.

Jennifer McCormick
(D) candidate for governor 

Jennifer McCormick is the only democrat running for governor. She is the last elected Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction. The state legislature abolished the position in 2021. That position was replaced with the Secretary of Education, who is appointed by the governor. She said she is running for Governor because she feels the state deserve better than what Hoosiers are currently getting out of their government. She wants to see abortion access restored and more transparency among public officials. She feels that not investing in public education is one thing that is causing the workers shortage we are seeing today.

"We have a way to go with workforce development, but it needs to be rigorous and it needs to be outlined in a solid plan starting with childcare and Universal Pre-k,” McCormick said.

To learn more about her campaign click here.