Consumers should see higher prices for vehicles, a representative of the Center for Automotive Research told those gathered April 26 for the Japan-Northeast Indiana Summit in Fort Wayne.

Kristin Dziczek, vice president of industry, labor and economics at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan, explained the effects on the vehicle industry of several known factors, including tariffs on China imports, steel, aluminum, autos and parts as well as the upcoming United Kingdom withdrawal from the European Union, known as Brexit.

The keynote speaker for the event held at Purdue Fort Wayne was Naoki Ito, consulate-general of Japan in Chicago.

More than 320 Japanese-owned businesses operate in Indiana, according to Ito. Japanese companies have 24 locations in 10 northeast Indiana counties and employ more than 67,000 people statewide, according to the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership.

Ito represents Japanese nationals and Japan's government and communicates with businesses in Indiana and nine other states, helping those who do or want to do business in Japan.

In addition the summit, Ito also made a visit April 25 to Carlex in Ligonier.

Also at the summit, Bill Konyha, president and CEO of the Regional Chamber of Northeast Indiana, presented a list of bills that passed the recent session of the Indiana General Assembly and which were of interest to the chamber's members. Some the chamber has been working on for years, he said.

"We had probably the most successful legislative session we've ever had," Konyha said of the chamber. "We were aggressive. We were ambitious. And we didn't get everything we wanted, but we got so much that it's hard to get our hands to wrap around it."

The session ended April 24 without a date for the legislators to reconvene.

Those bills passed by legislators that were of interest to chamber members included:

• Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) Tax Credits. Nonresidents can now participate in the program. Businesses in Indiana counties along borders with other states, such as Allen County, can take advantage of those tax credits and won't be penalized for hiring out-of-state workers, such as those from Ohio.

• Venture Capital Tax Credits. Out-of-state investors in Indiana projects who can't use an Indiana tax credit can now transfer that tax credit.

• Pre-kindergarten was expanded past the pilot areas to include all of northeast Indiana.

• Bias crime sentencing. "It was a really tough sell," Konyha said. Bias concerning specifics such as gender identity and gender were not included in the bill's language when it was signed into law by Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb.

• The creation of a ?35-year?tax increment financing (TIF) district for the use or repurposing of two or more buildings that are at least 75 years old and located at a site where manufacturing previously occurred over a period of at least 75 years. This will benefit the Electric Works project in Fort Wayne.

One issue close to Konyha's heart that the chamber had worked on for two years was solving the absence of workforce-attainable housing.

"Population growth is critical in northeast Indiana," he said.

Several counties were finding it hard to attract housing developers. Now with the passage of Senate Bill 566, tax incremental funding can be used to finance single-family homes, he said.

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