HAMMOND — Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg said he wants to make venture capital money more available to attract and retain companies providing the type of higher income jobs seen at the Hammond Group, Inc.
Gregg spoke of the need to try to raise the per capita income levels of Hoosiers on Tuesday as he visited the Hammond Group’s Lead Battery Acid Laboratory.
According to Gregg, the state has slipped from 34th to 38th in terms of per capita income, which means a family of four is making $7,800 less than the average family of four in the U.S.
“We can do better and we start doing better with companies like this,” he said.
Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. introduced Gregg at the campaign stop where they were hosted by Terry Murphy, Hammond Group president and CEO. McDermott spoke of how the company that has been in the city since the 1930s recently invested more than $10 million into turning an underutilized property into a state of the art laboratory with about 90 full-time employees.
Gregg said the facility combines high technology and advanced manufacturing, which are two of the areas he wants to focus on for job growth. In addition to making venture capital money more available, Gregg said he wants to increase the venture capital tax credit and allow the tax credit to be sold to other investors.
Gregg, squaring off against Republican Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb and Libertarian Rex Bell in the contest to succeed Republican Gov. Mike Pence, also spoke of the need to improve infrastructure in Northwest Indiana and the rest of the state. The Hammond Sanitary District last week committed to entering into a consent decree with state and federal officials that could involve spending $240 million to reduce combined sewer overflows.
Gregg is proposing to spend $3.2 billion over 10 years without raising taxes to address infrastructure issues. He proposes leveraging $300 million in reserve funds to borrow $3 billion, which would be paid back with future federal highway dollars coming to the state, and putting $200 million in a Hoosier State Infrastructure Bank for low-interest loans to local governments.
Gregg said more than half of the $3.2 billion would go to cities, towns and counties for roads and bridges and the rest would go to help fund issues like wastewater, sewer and drinking water projects. Gregg said it is tough for communities to get money to address some of the infrastructure issues.
“They don’t even have matching monies for federal dollars and the cost of it is so expensive,” he said. “And if these communities are going to grow they have to have access to capital.”