Morton Marcus: Ah, there is good news coming from the Statehouse

Despite the embarrassment of living with the Indiana General Assembly, Hoosiers can take heart.

Now, please, don’t get overexcited about the following good news. At the bottom of Page 12 in the Dec. 30, 2022, edition of the Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly is a story about the Indiana Grown Commission. Apparently, from its website, indianagrown.org has been around for seven years. (I hadn’t heard about this commission; had you?)

Its mission is “to promote products that are grown or made by Hoosiers, for Hoosiers!” Makes me proud to know that. However, because I’m as greedy as the next economist, I’d like to see them promoting Hoosier products to folks beyond our borders. Yet, who am I to complain about limited aspirations?

For years, I have wondered why apples I buy are labeled from Michigan or Ohio? We’ve all known Idaho potatoes. Even Indiana blueberries come in cartons labeled as originating in Michigan. It’s Kentucky bluegrass, Georgia peaches, and Vermont maple syrup.

Indiana is a void in the marketing map of America. Seven years, with support from Purdue University, that great generator of self-serving advertising, and this is still an unknown effort?

Nonetheless, the next time I going to or from Marion on State Road 18, I’ll stop at the Jefferson St. BBQ in Converse to sample their offerings. (Converse — population 1,161 in 2020 — is one of those distinctive Indiana towns, like Batesville and Nappanee, that spills over the border of two counties — in this case, Grant and Miami.)

Also of interest to me was Bee Free snack food, which proudly declares, “Liberated from junk food.”

Who could resist such a product? Sadly, no address, phone number, or website tells us how to find this firm.

Seven years, and this is the product promotion offered by the state? Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, who oversees the Department of Agriculture, might want to attend the Jan. 25 meeting of this commission and question its members on their performance.

Indiana now has the Destination Development Corporation — the IDDC — not to be confused with the IEDC, which provides support (money) to businesses beginning or expanding operations in Indiana.

IDDC is intended to be more than just a tourist promotion activity. In the 2023 Budget, IDDC seeks sufficient funding to do its job on a more reasonable scale. It’s a good idea because the more Hoosiers themselves know about this state, the better ambassadors they can be for Indiana. That, and my capacious appetite, moved me to get an Indiana Culinary Trails Passport, a guide to Hoosier restaurants.

To get that increased appropriation from the General Assembly may be a struggle. Our elected representatives may be uncomfortable with “others” knowing anything about us, except for our well publicized backwardness.

Morton Marcus is an economist. Reach him at [email protected] Follow his views and those of John Guy on “Who Gets What?” wherever podcasts are available or at mortonjohn.libsyn.com. Send comments to [email protected]