SOUTH BEND - What can government do to encourage entrepreneurship?
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels listed a few examples Tuesday during a talk at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business.
During his administration, he said, the state has streamlined its permitting processes - “time is money” - and improved tax credits for research and development, new patents and assembling venture capital. Legislators also have lowered taxes and cut regulations, he said, with the goal of making it as affordable as possible for businesses to employ Hoosiers.
In other words, what government can do to encourage entrepreneurship is minimize the obstacles that stand in the way of innovators.
“The person who makes that breakthrough of innovation is the one who transforms our lives and generally improves them,” Daniels told the audience, which consisted mostly of students. “We need more of those people.”
He said the recent death of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, though sad, highlighted “the incredible effect that one person like that can have on the lives of others.”
Daniels also talked about “governmental entrepreneurism,” adding that it isn’t an oxymoron. He said state government in Indiana has used business principles to measure the effectiveness of services and build a culture of high performance.
“Government is not and never should be and never will be business - it’s not supposed to be - but it could be much more business-like,” he said.
Daniels, a Republican who was first elected governor in 2004, will finish his second term at the end of next year. He is term-limited from running for re-election.
One audience member asked what he plans to do after leaving office. The governor answered that he doesn’t have a plan.
“I don’t know if I should admit this in front of the audience, but I guarantee I’m the worst career planner in the room,” he said. “I’ve had wonderful opportunities, but I didn’t see any of them coming. Every so often the phone would ring, and there’d be something interesting on the other end.”
While Daniels is approaching the final year of his term, South Bend’s new mayor-elect, Pete Buttigieg, is looking forward to taking office at the beginning of January.
“On the campaign trail I met a lot of folks who felt that the relationship between South Bend and Indianapolis isn’t all that it could be,” Buttigieg, a Democrat, told the governor.
Whether that’s perception or reality, Buttigieg asked what the city can do to work better with state government, and vice versa.
“It’s more perception than reality,” Daniels answered, “but this is not the only part of the state that sort of has a permanent ‘poor me’ attitude.”
Some people in the audience chuckled when Daniels added, “It gets worse when you go west of here.”
The governor said there is a lot of potential in South Bend, and the city’s increased partnership with Notre Dame is one positive. He said Buttigieg’s election is another.
“You represent a new leaf up here,” Daniels said, “and that’s always an opportunity to try new things. … I’m not trying to be ingratiating, but honestly I think your election offers a real opportunity.”
Daniels’ speech was part of the Entrepreneurial Insights lecture series sponsored by the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.
Staff writer Kevin Allen: