Indiana manufacturers, while “upbeat and bullish on investment,” have real concerns about rising energy and regulatory costs, along with finding enough skilled workers, according to results of an annual survey released Tuesday (Nov. 11).

The Elkhart Truth reported that bout 78% of respondents answered either “stable” or “healthy” to describe their financial performance, and 20% said they hope to open a new manufacturing facility in Indiana over the next two years — more than double the response from last year.

The survey was conducted by theIndiana University Kelley School of Business, the Indianapolis-based accounting firm of Katz, Sapper & Miller, and two business-friendly groups, Conexus Indiana and the Indiana Manufacturers Association.

The results indicate that while there is widespread optimism, it is tempered by concerns over tax, regulatory and energy costs — particularly rising health care costs and electricity prices that are expected to continue rising as the state’s heavy use of coal-fired power plants come under tighter federal environmental restrictions.

Even more worrisome, the survey found, is the scarcity of labor, especially skilled labor, to sustain growth. About 89% of manufacturers are experiencing an immediate shortage of skilled production workers, and 65% rate the shortage as “moderate” or “serious.” Many employers also are having difficulty finding production support and “scientific/engineering talent.”

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