It is easy to be discouraged when we look at the U.S. debt level, partisan gridlock, and what many say is the ‘new reality’ of tepid economic conditions. We may wonder if the system can change and if improvement is possible. The answer is yes, it can happen.
I offer Indiana as an example. I had the dual privilege of doing a joint Vistage and Butler University event in Indianapolis this week, and of sitting with the governor of Indiana. I learned some things that I would like to share with you so you too can have confidence in positive change and a national improvement over the current status quo.
Gov. Mitch Daniels is a totally unassuming, quiet, and gracious man. He looked in every way average. It was refreshing to meet a political leader with those qualities. Good leaders do not have to be loud, flamboyant, or even tall. That is good news for the average among us who must lead in our companies.
More importantly, Indiana has transformed itself from a state that ranked near the bottom in almost all categories in 2004 into a top ranked state in 2012. Other states rank higher in a number of areas, but they are a top tier northern manufacturing state. They are also the eastern most state to achieve these rankings. They used to run a $700 million budget. They owed the university and public school systems hundreds of millions of dollars. They now have a surplus $2 billion rainy-day fund. They have the lowest ratio of state employees to population, and yet receive recognition for being responsive to the needs of people and business. They have a decidedly pro-business slant but also have successfully worked to cap property taxes. They are a success story, proving that solid business practices, and not debt-driven stimulus spending, can indeed rescue an economy.