The improvement in Indiana’s economic environment is an outstanding success story. The series of top 10 business climate rankings from respected national sources is a tribute to the work of many throughout our state.
The same broad-based, dedicated effort is required in one very important area in which the state is not faring well in national comparisons. And if we don’t finally make some significant advances, those sought-after employers and their talented employees might not find Indiana to be such a great place to work and live.
The inferior health of our workforce – and overall population – is no secret. In the 2015 Report Card measuring progress on the Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 plan, two rankings stood out in a negative manner: 39th in adult smoking rate (despite a four percentage point improvement from the prior measurement) and 42nd in adult obesity.
In the most recent America’s Health Rankings from the United Health Foundation, Indiana’s behaviors (physical activity in addition to smoking and obesity) and outcomes (diabetes, cardiovascular deaths and cancer deaths) fare no better.
Health Means Business. That is a statement and the title of an upcoming event intended to promote business-led community health initiatives. As the Wellness Council of Indiana has been advocating, a healthier Indiana is vital in recruiting and retaining employees, reducing health care costs, limiting absenteeism and increasing productivity.
Details are coming soon on a new Indiana Healthy Community Initiative – modeled after the Wellness Council’s AchieveWELL process for employers – that will allow towns/cities/counties to lead collaborative efforts to improve the health of their citizens.
Indiana is one of 10 stops on a national Health Means Business tour. The Indiana Chamber Foundation is partnering with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for the February 5 event. We see this as just one of many steps to putting Indiana on a healthier road and keeping our state among the nation’s business leaders.
Tom Hirons, president and CEO of Hirons, is the 2016 Indiana Chamber of Commerce chairman of the board.