SOUTH BEND -- A key point in Mike Pence's economic plan might bring a payoff for Indiana college towns, including this one.
The Republican gubernatorial candidate visited South Bend on Thursday, making stops at The Tribune, General Sheet Metal Works and the Pfeil Innovation Center.
Pence, a six-term congressman from Columbus, believes Indiana is on the verge of historic economic growth.
"Within the next five years, I think Indiana could be one of the fastest-growing state economies in the country," he said.
One part of Pence's jobs plan is to create the Indiana Applied Research Enterprise -- an industry-driven institute that would work to foster collaboration between the state's research universities, including Notre Dame, and private businesses and investors.
The idea is modeled after similar entities at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Research Triangle in North Carolina, and Stanford University.
"This has thrown off enormous economic energy around the Massachusetts cluster, around Stanford and in North Carolina," Pence said, "and I think it holds enormous promise for increasing investment in Indiana in ways that will create jobs in our traditional areas of strength."
It also might help address the problem of young people leaving the area after they've earned a college degree.
"We have people that come from all over the world to attend our colleges and universities in Indiana. I don't know what state has the infrastructure and the diversity of colleges and universities of a national and international reputation that we have," Pence said. "But they come here, and then they go back or they go other places where that economic activity is happening."
Another one of Pence's economic proposals is to lower the state's individual income tax rate from 3.4 percent to 3.06 percent.
"More than 90 percent of Indiana's business enterprises file their taxes under the individual income tax, so the most effective way to cut taxes on small business owners or family farmers is to cut the individual rate," he said. "Indiana recently has passed relief in our business corporate rate, but this is a much more effective way to put dollars in the pockets of job creators."
John Gregg, a former Indiana House speaker from the southwestern part of the state, is the Democrats' candidate for governor. Rupert Boneham, an Indianapolis resident and a past contestant on the reality TV show "Survivor," is running as a Libertarian.
Gregg's "Invest in Indiana" economic plan would aim to protect taxpayer contributions in economic development deals, place more of state government's deposits and investments in Indiana banks and ensure more in-state companies land government contracts.
Staff writer Kevin Allen: