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“Never bet against an entrepreneur!”

So says Mike Young, an entrepreneur himself at a young age and now the Executive Director of the Mitch Daniels Leadership Foundation.  “Start-ups are hard and will be way harder now. But private enterprise holds everything and provides the energy for any economy.”

As Indiana and its business community start to emerge out of the COVID-19 health crisis, Young believes there will be lots of opportunities but it will take a lot of work to find.  It will also take a while for the economy to come back online which means it will take time for people to buy things again. Despite the challenges, Young is optimistic. 

“Governor Holcomb took COVID-19 seriously and provided pro-active, responsive leadership.  That will benefit the state going forward.”

Indiana is in a good place to rebound, in part because of the strong fiscal position the state is in after years of being prudent with its finances. Young thinks that the state’s heavy manufacturing emphasis might be a liability but the strengths of the emerging tech and entrepreneurial sectors in Central Indiana will be a huge boon to recovery. 

“Indy is a very welcoming place, its very easy to get into and build a network,” says Young.  “As the economy rebounds, some people will be forced to become entrepreneurs.”

As for how the health crisis has impacted the Mitch Daniels Leadership Foundation, nothing much has changed. In fact, the program is ramping up for expansion.  It has a new group of Fellows coming on board.  They have continued to meet virtually, like so many other groups. 

Started at the close of Governor Mitch Daniels’ second term after eight years of successfully bringing dramatic innovation to Indiana, MDLF’s mission is to enable leaders and drive change. MDLF is building a network of innovators and leaders who refuse to accept the status quo as good enough, constantly aim higher and execute courageously.

How MDLF Fellows Make an Impact

The Fellowships bring people together who identify, promote, and apply critical thinking and action to opportunities that will make Indiana a better place to work and live. The Fellows are given access to influential people, organizations and resources to accelerate the state’s progress on key growth initiatives.

Young was a fellow himself and after selling his software company PearCircuit in December of 2019, he became the Executive Director of the organization.  He realizes his timing was right on, even if not intended.

“A lot of my friends in the tech space are looking for jobs,” says Young. “It’s going to be tough on them as customers are just not buying anything right now.  But if tech is suffering, I can’t imagine what it will be like for people who are less skilled.”

Young says Indiana has been through two massive health crises in the last decade.  First there was the opioid crisis, which though improving is still an ongoing challenge.  Now we have COVID-19.  “That’s going to cause some people to question some fundamentals of society.”

But Young thinks that might lead to opportunities, including the chance to continue to modernize state and local government and even educational structures.  That would fit right into the vision of MDLF’s inspiration, former Governor and current President of Purdue University, Mitch Daniels, who says about the organization’s purpose;

“I will urge that our purpose be bold, that if we err, we err on the side of action, of movement, of experiment. And that our aim be high.”

See how one school district is embracing entrepreneurship with new programming.