Former Indiana Representative and entrepreneur Steve Braun is campaigning to Indiana’s Fourth Congressional District. The post is currently occupied by Representative Todd Rokita, who is himself currently running to represent Indiana in the U.S. Senate. Braun is encouraging voters to choose him on the basis of his leadership, his desire for a productive workforce and his passion for conservative American values.
Braun grew up in the city of Jasper in Dubois County. His father owned a wood office furniture business. He described Jasper as “an industrious, but also very rural
“I was the first ever from that community to go to Harvard,” he said. “I was pretty sure that I was going to stay in-state to go to college…[but] I decided that it was a pretty unique opportunity for a young guy from southwestern Indiana to do.”
He recalled a humorous anecdote where everyone at Harvard assumed he was from Texas due to a “southern twang” in his voice.
“I wore a jean jacket and cowboy boots all the time,” he remembered with a laugh.
After graduating Harvard, he moved to the Chicago area to join Price Waterhouse as a technology consultant. Around 15 years later, he left to begin what became his technology consulting business. The company grew to 700 employees and 13 national offices, going public in 1999. It was originally Braun Technology Group, though the name was later changed to Braun Technology Consulting.
Braun called the members of the company “data scientists.” They worked with fortune 1000 companies to help them gather their data assets, get to know their customers and better design their products and marketing around meeting the customer’s needs.
Then politics came into Braun’s life when, in 2012, an Indiana State Representative Seat became open.
“I was a big Mitch Daniels fan,” he said. “I really felt we needed more business guys in the legislature, and so I decided to run for it.”
He went on to become part of then-Governor Mike Pence’s cabinet as the Commissioner of Workforce Development. This second possibility opened up at such a time that he had to figure out how to make it work even though he was still in the middle of the 2012 election and already listed on the ballot.
“It was too late for me to get off the ballot,” he explained. “So I had to run, win and then, after I won, I had to resign. And then they caucused someone into my seat.”
From within Pence’s leadership team, he authored what he called two key agenda bills for Pence, the Regional Cities and Career Council Bills.
“[It] brought together employers and educators to talk about improving education,” he said, referring to the second bill.”
Braun said he and Pence both felt that their biggest challenges was in the workforce area and making education better fit for employers seeking new talent.
“He called it ‘Two plan As,’” Braun recalled of Pence. “Plan A-1 was ‘Go to college.’ Plan A-2 was ‘Learn a technical trade in high school or in one of the community colleges’ to fill all those great jobs that were out there.”
Governor Holcomb then reappointed him to the position.
“And now workforce is…his top priority,” Braun said.
He explained that his passion for finding ways to make the state — and possibly the county’s — workforce more efficient all began as he was growing his own business.
“I recruited heavily out of the colleges,” he said. “And it was really kind of striking to me that the things that we were utilizing in terms of technical skill sets and competencies…most colleges were not teaching.”
This meant he had to spend six months simply training many of his new recruits how to use the programs and technologies they would need on a regular basis. Their education simply hadn’t prepared them for this new way of helping businesses grow and market themselves better.
“that kind of mismatch was difficult for my business,” he said. “And the only way we could get around it is train ourselves. So that was really the first experience.”
He went on to use this experience during his time at the Indiana Statehouse.
“It really felt like it was a critical aspect for us as a state to make sure that…we train the appropriate workforce for [employers].”
He said that, while he was leading Workforce Development, Indiana’s unemployment dipped to three percent, the second-lowest that had ever been measured in the state, the lowest apparently being about 2.9 percent.
“I believe I can take that same message out to D.C. and make sure that I’m another supporting voice out there,” he said, “to make sure that the America First agenda gets driven.”
He admitted that he clings very close to what have arguably become essential Republican talking points, where issues such as healthcare, borders and the budget are concerned. But he also believes he and others can find a way to solve the problems associated with them.
“We do need to fix these important issues,” he said. “We do need to protect our borders, and we do need to balance budgets.”
Braun believes his unique experience and approach to solving problems for large groups and entities will allow him to make his arguments heard on Capitol Hill.
“I understood how to gather the data and create that perspective,” he said, “the same way I did for very large clients. It’s very complex, but once you have that kind of experience to be able to gather data and use it to analyze challenging problems — That’s what happens in business every day.”