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Indiana ‘Beset’ With Same Economic Problems As Rest Of U.S.

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Last updated on July 8th, 2024 at 10:26 am

Indiana’s economy is experiencing a period of sustained growth. According to IBISWorld, the Hoosier state’s gross domestic product reached $353.9 billion in 2023, with a 20.3 percent increase over the past five years.

Manufacturing remains a significant driver, with sectors like motor vehicles, metals and electronics leading the way. However, the recent “Feeding the Economy” report by a coalition of agricultural groups sheds light on another crucial contributor: Indiana’s thriving agriculture and food industries.

According to a report in Hoosier Ag Today, this sector boasts a total economic output of $219.75 billion, directly impacting the state through 968,577 jobs, $53.69 billion in wages and a significant contribution to tax revenue.

Joe Lackey, president of the Indiana Grocery and Convenience Store Association, said the overall economy in the state is good, adding that the government has about a $1 billion surplus.

photo of Joe Lackey
Joe Lackey

While there has been “a lot of growth in Indiana, home prices are absurd,” said Lackey, who listed the state’s biggest economic issue as its property taxes.

“We’re beset with the same kind of economic problems as the rest of the country … but overall, we’re good. I think we’re positive,” he said.

Looking at the grocery industry in the state, Lackey noted that “big boxes” continue to dominate the market, with fewer independent stores. However, he said there are some ethnic markets popping up.

“We’re not seeing huge growth in the independents, but there’s been a couple that have come in and are trying to operate,” he said, pointing to some mergers and acquisitions in the independent space.

This includes Hy-Vee’s recent purchase of Strack & Van Til in northwest Indiana. The stores will retain the Strack & Van Til name.

“They think it’s a very positive operation, a good operation the way it is,” Lackey said.

[RELATED: Hy-Vee To Acquire Strack & Van Til Food Market Chain]

 

He also mentioned that convenience store chain Wawa is planning to open 60 stores in the state in the next eight to 10 years.

“The market continues to try to adjust and grow,” he said. “Overall, the industry is maintaining. I’m not seeing stores close. That’s probably the best way to look at it. Because when things really get bad, then stores start closing and that’s not happening.”

According to Lackey, labor issues continue to plague the grocery industry. Stores don’t have enough staff to operate registers and delis often have to close early due to staff shortages.

To Lackey, government rules and regulations are the biggest factors impacting the industry.

As an example, he said Indiana continues to be the only state in the country where grocers can’t sell cold beer. Only liquor stores can do so. “Does that make sense to anybody? No, except to the liquor stores, which have a monopoly.”

The Indiana General Assembly is a part-time legislature. Lackey said it ended its short session in February, with the bi-annual budget session scheduled for January-April 2025.

He said he doesn’t anticipate anything “coming down that’s going to negatively impact our grocers from the legislator.”

The IGCSA has a good relationship with the state’s lawmakers, Lackey noted, especially with legislative leadership.

He sees “more positive things happening here in Indiana,” adding that the convenience store chain Casey’s has built a distribution center in the state.

“That’s a good indication … if they’re willing to invest in putting in a new distribution center, then we must be doing something right here as far as the corporate taxes.”

About the author

Treva Bennett

Senior Content Creator

After 32 years in the newspaper industry, she is enjoying her new career exploring the world of groceries at The Shelby Report.

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