Indiana Chamber, Ball State Announce Healthy, Wealthy and Wise Index for Hoosier Communities

An old proverb, first printed in 1639, says: “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” In today’s state and national economies, the assertion is that the healthier the residents are, the wealthier and wiser they and the broader community will also be.

The Ball State University Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) created the Healthy, Wealthy, Wise Index for the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, its Foundation and the Wellness Council of Indiana to emphasize the critical importance of the health factor. The Index will serve as a valuable measuring tool for the Wellness Council’s Indiana Healthy Community initiative.

The Wellness Council of Indiana is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Indiana Chamber.

“Health is a key success factor to learning and wealth,” says Wellness Council of Indiana Executive Director Chuck Gillespie. “Community leaders and business decision makers need to understand why ‘healthy’ must be a big priority in order to ensure the vitality of their communities and workplaces.”

Thirty indicators – 15 health, six wealth and nine wise – were selected to establish the three indices. Results among all 92 counties and, separately, the 50 states are divided into quartiles, with those in the fourth quartile having the strongest performance.

“Our research also found there are major policy implications,” states Michael Hicks, the George and Frances Ball Distinguished Professor of Economics in the Miller College of Business and director of CBER. “There is a huge disparity in health and health care costs associated with preventable diseases in Indiana, especially across rural and urban settings. With this information, local governments can partner with businesses and non-profits to figure out how wellness can be more effectively spread throughout our communities.”

The Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 (www.indianachamber.com/2025) economic development action plan for the state includes four drivers, with three health-related goals under the Attractive Business Climate section (along with the direct correlation of the Wise index to the plan’s goals under Outstanding Talent). While the state has fared well in tax, regulatory and other areas in enhancing its business climate, the unhealthy state of the population is a costly and dangerous outlier.

The Indiana Chamber and allies have formed the Alliance for a Healthier Indiana to tackle health care challenges, with an initial legislative focus on reducing smoking. Nearly one-quarter of the adult population in Indiana smokes at an annual cost of $6 billion in additional health care expenditures and lost productivity.

“The Wellness Council has focused on creating and maintaining well workplaces throughout its history,” Gillespie shares. “The Indiana Healthy Community initiative is an important step to embracing and working toward community-wide health improvements. Healthy citizens are essential to Hoosiers being prepared to learn and work at their highest capabilities. Leaders are encouraged to use these findings in assessing the current status of their communities.”

Srikant Devaraj, CBER research assistant professor, adds, “This research found that there is a strong correlation between the built environment – the man-made surroundings that provide the setting for human activity – and the places where people are moving, implying that households put more value on the recreational amenities. Infrastructure related to traditional wellness activities, such as trails, playgrounds, parks and open green space matters more than ever in where people and subsequently businesses relocate.”

Counties that score highly in all three indices include Bartholomew, Dearborn, Dubois, Kosciusko and those surrounding Indianapolis. As suggested by earlier research, rural areas do not fare as well as urban settings. There are examples of high and low performers in close proximity to each other. Nationally, success is varied with Indiana having a below median health index and above median wealthy and wise results.

The Healthy, Wealthy, Wise Index is available at www.wellnessindiana.org, www.readyindiana.org and www.bsu.edu/cber/publications. The Ball State site includes full index scores for each county and state.

To be considered an Indiana Healthy Community, communities must apply to the Wellness Council of Indiana and meet eight key components, including working with various community leaders, getting citizens involved, analyzing political atmospheres and ensuring environments are best for making healthy choices. Part of the requirements include having a certain number of businesses certified as AchieveWELL companies, a Wellness Council designation for individual organizations

Locations interested in becoming Indiana Healthy Communities can visit the Wellness Council web site for more information and to apply.

Tax Man: Ice Miller’s Mark Richards a 2016 Volunteer of the Year

It’s immediately evident that Mark Richards is passionate about taxes.

As a lawyer for Ice Miller, LLP, specializing in tax law for the past 30 years, he is quick to explain how taxes are essential to the Indiana economy.

Richards points to changes – from a cash to credit economy, and from brick and mortar retail to online over the last few decades – as evidence of how interesting taxes can be.

“I’m using that as an example to show how our entire economic system evolves and the tax laws have to evolve to keep pace.

Some would argue (the laws) haven’t done that very well, but the result is there’s always a new frontier, a new area that’s undeveloped, unexplored, new issues that come up. This is fundamentally important,” he stresses.

Richards has been a member of the Indiana Chamber’s tax policy committee about as long as he’s been a lawyer. He views his role as a source of support and advice to the Chamber. He has been integral to several major tax policy initiatives over the years, including the repeal of the inventory and gross receipts taxes in 2002, and, more recently, the elimination of the throwback rule…

Read the full story in BizVoice.

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‘The Right Way’: Faegre Baker Daniels Attorney Stuart Buttrick a 2016 Volunteer of the Year

Stuart Buttrick believes in the power of community, particularly the Indianapolis community and its citizens working toward a common good.

Buttrick, a labor and employment law attorney at Faegre Baker Daniels, has a long list of civic involvement. And it starts at home, where Buttrick and his wife make volunteering a family affair and emphasize to their young children the importance of giving back.

“Ultimately, I just want (my children) to be happy and kind people. I won’t profess to be a good role model in that regard, but that’s what I’d like for them to be. We emphasize helping others in our house and doing things for others,” he notes.

“It’s good for the community and good for a person to help others. We’re all in this together.”

Buttrick serves as a director on several boards for organizations throughout Central Indiana, including the Indianapolis Zoo, Park Tudor school, the Woodstock Foundation and the Indiana United Methodist Children’s Home in Lebanon…

Read the full story in BizVoice.

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Don’t Be Scammed!

scamOur friends at the U.S. Chamber sent along the following useful information:

Did you know that small businesses and consumers across the country are falling victim to a group of criminals that are impersonating utility representatives?

That’s why the Energy Institute is supporting Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS) – a coalition of utility companies who have joined together to safeguard customers from fraud committed by scammers.

These scammers are contacting business owners and consumers via telephone, mail, email or door-to-door and demanding immediate payment or personal information. They are also falsely threatening to disconnect or suspend utility services if immediate payment is not received.

UUAS and utility companies are working with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to identify, and prosecute scammers as well as raise awareness of these scams and educate customers like you.

Here’s how you can spot and avoid being scammed:

  • If you are contacted, hang up the phone or close the door, and call your utility’s customer service office.
  • Decline to pay any caller or visitor claiming to be a company representative using a prepaid card, a wire transfer or similar forms of payment – especially those requiring an intermediary.
  • Ignore suspicious requests for personal information such as bank account numbers, user names and passwords, credit card numbers or Social Security numbers.
  • Delete all emails that demand immediate payment or personal information or that are from a company that is not your utility company.

Stopping scammers requires utilities, customers and the community to work together year-round. Through collaborative efforts like the utilities United Against Scams coalition, we will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that customers like you are protected from these malicious scammers.

‘Take the Long Way Home’: Todd Miller of Myers Spring a 2016 Chamber Volunteer of the Year

Todd Miller grew up in the small town of Twelve Mile in Cass County. Ironically, it’s about 12 miles from Logansport, where Miller resides and runs his family’s business, Myers Spring Company.

Miller’s journey, however, is anything but a short drive. In fact, at one point, he wasn’t even sure he wanted to be involved with the company that his grandfather started in a garage in 1946.

When Miller attended Purdue University to pursue a degree in engineering, he followed his musical passion and joined the school’s glee club. Traveling throughout the state and country with the group opened Miller’s eyes to the possibility of meeting new people and experiencing new cultures. As manager of the glee club, he met fascinating people and at one event dined with astronauts Gene Cernan and Neil Armstrong.

Those were pivotal moments for Miller. His grandfather passed away in 1985, and Miller’s father took over the company. Miller’s intention was to join the business after he finished school.

Read the full story in BizVoice.

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Ron Christian of Evansville Named Indiana Chamber Chairman

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The Indiana Chamber of Commerce formally introduced its new chairman at an awards dinner tonight. Ron Christian, an executive at Evansville-based Vectren Corporation, has been tapped to lead the organization’s board of directors for 2017.

Christian, executive vice president external affairs, chief legal officer and corporate secretary at Vectren, has served on the Indiana Chamber’s board and various policy committees since 2006. Additionally, he has been a part of the Indiana Business for Responsive Government policy group since 2014. Christian was also a member of the 24-person Indiana Vision 2025 task force, which developed the long-range economic plan for the state. In 2013, Christian was named an Indiana Chamber Volunteer of the Year.

At the 27th Annual Awards Dinner before a crowd of nearly 1,500, Christian led the recognition for the Indiana Chamber’s outgoing board chair, Indianapolis businessman Tom Hirons, president and CEO of Hirons Advertising + Public Relations.

A southern Indiana native, Christian started his career as a utility lawyer for Barnes & Thornburg in Indianapolis, after graduating from the University of Evansville, and then with a law degree from the University of Louisville. Christian returned to southern Indiana in 1999 during the merger of Indiana Gas Co. and Southern Indiana Gas & Electric Co., which created Vectren in 2000. Vectren serves more than one million natural gas customers in the state and west-central Ohio, and electric customers in southwest Indiana.

“Ron has been a key partner for the Indiana Chamber for many years and he has passionately given his time and expertise to work on various policy committees, and especially as a member of the Indiana Vision 2025 task force,” states Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar. “We look forward to his leadership and increased involvement with our organization over the coming year.”

Christian’s chairmanship duties for the Indiana Chamber extend through the group’s next fall board meeting in November 2017.

See the 2013 Volunteer of the Year video on Christian:

Dynamic Duo: Edwin the Duck Creators Named 2016 Dynamic Leaders of the Year

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck … it’s likely a duck – as the idiom conveys. However, if it syncs with mobile apps, teaches life lessons and takes the Internet of Things to a whole new level, it might be better described as a groundbreaking, transformational gadget the likes of which the children’s toy industry has never seen.

That was the hope when Don Inmon and Matt MacBeth, two innovators with minds for engineering and a collective desire to navigate the turbulent skies of the tech spectrum, developed pi lab and its flagship product – Edwin the Duck.

Edwin is a rubber duck that includes a Bluetooth speaker, a thermometer that gauges bath water, a night light that works in tandem with apps and much more, allowing children to follow along with interactive stories, play games and enjoy sing-alongs.

Tens of thousands of units have been sold (via online and brick and mortar stores like Amazon, Apple Store, Best Buy, Target and Toys ‘R Us) and are already in the hands of children around the globe.

Read the full story in BizVoice.

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Master Strategy: Fishers Named 2016 Community of the Year

“Fishers could have stayed nothing more than what it was when I moved there in 1995: a nice place to live with lovely vinyl apartments. But it’s not that (today). And that’s not an accident; it got there with a strong plan,” declares John McDonald, CEO of Fishers-based CloudOne.

No matter who you talk to – business leaders, local officials or longtime residents – they all cite adopting the vision in recent years to become a “smart, vibrant, entrepreneurial city” as the turning point for Fishers. They credit Mayor Scott Fadness for instilling that, with the backing of the city council.

What’s followed is quite the transformation.

Major economic announcements are the new norm, not the exception. Innovation is now synonymous with the fast-growing locale.

That speaks to how dominant a player Fishers has become in the last several years in business attraction and expansion. It boasts an impressive entrepreneurial spirit thanks to Launch Fishers, the largest collaborative co-working space in the state (if not the Midwest)…

Read the full story in BizVoice.

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Indiana Chamber Unveils Top Legislative Priorities for 2017

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Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane (right) speaks during Monday’s Indiana Chamber Legislative Preview. He was joined during the panel discussion by Senate President Pro Tem David Long, as well as House Speaker Brian Bosma and Minority Leader Scott Pelath. Our VP Caryl Auslander moderated.

Long-term transportation infrastructure funding, expansion of state-funded preschool to children from low-income families and strategies to reduce the state’s smoking rate are among the Indiana Chamber of Commerce’s top priorities for the 2017 session.

These objectives were announced at the organization’s annual legislative preview in Indianapolis today. The event sponsor was Ice Miller LLP.

“Based on studies, reports and simply travelling across the state, it’s pretty apparent that what we desperately need is a long-term, sustainable, transportation infrastructure funding plan,” offers Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar.

He believes whatever strategies are ultimately settled on to fund the state’s road and bridges, two factors must be taken into consideration.

“We need to completely fund both maintenance needs and important new projects, and ensure that every user pays their fair share.”

Specific funding strategies the Indiana Chamber could support include: indexing the fuel excise taxes/fees to inflation; raising fuel excise taxes/fees; charging fees for alternative-fuel vehicles (which aren’t subject to the regular fuel tax); tolling a major interstate; and dedicating all of the sales taxes on fuel to infrastructure (the current model allots a penny with the other six cents going to the state’s general fund).

Brinegar notes that the Indiana Chamber would support replacing any revenue lost to the general fund with another revenue source so that the general fund is left whole.

Education is also high on the organization’s agenda.

“We are encouraged that virtually everyone involved sees the need to increase state-funded preschool,” Brinegar begins. “The Indiana Chamber will be advocating that disadvantaged youngsters take priority for the state’s limited dollars.

“We want to see legislators focus on fiscal responsibility, ensure preschool programs are of high quality and adopt a mixed delivery model that includes public schools, Head Start programs, licensed family and center-based childcare, as well as community-based organizations. All of those things are vitally important.”

The Indiana Chamber is part of the All IN 4 Pre-K coalition.

Separately, the Indiana Chamber is supporting suitable testing for students and accountability measures for all involved in the education process.

“Clearly there have been issues with ISTEP testing and the communication of result expectations based on the state’s new college and career-ready standards,” Brinegar says. “But the fundamental importance of measuring students, teachers and schools remains. That’s how we can predict student progress, rate teacher effectiveness and compare and contrast school performance relative to state and national peers.”

Indiana ranks 44th in the nation for highest percentage of smokers. Brinegar stresses that the increased health care costs associated with this level of smoking has the attention of employers.

“These workers are less healthy, have higher insurance premiums and miss more days on the job – and some are not able to work at all.”

The Indiana Chamber, a member of the new Alliance for a Healthier Indiana, is backing a comprehensive approach to reducing the state’s smoking rate. The proposal includes: raising the price of cigarettes via a tax increase; funding a more robust smoking cessation program; increasing the smoking age from 18 to 21; and repealing special privileges for smokers (that prohibit employers from asking possible new hires if they smoke).

“Right now, Indiana is spending substantially more on smokers with health issues who are on Medicaid than it is taking in via cigarette tax revenues. For every pack sold and taxed at 99.5 cents, the state spends at least $15.90 in related health care costs,” Brinegar states. “Obviously that’s not a sustainable tradeoff and needs the state’s attention.”

In the summer, the Indiana Chamber more closely aligned with the state’s technology industry, forming the Indiana Technology & Innovation Council to facilitate better communication and coordination among interested parties.

According to Brinegar, a key focus is public policy so technology leaders can present a strong, unified voice at the Statehouse. Out of the gate, the goal is to “make technology innovation an integral part of the state’s identity.”

Brinegar says: “Indiana is already fostering an impressive entrepreneurial spirit and becoming a technology hub in the Midwest. But we need to better support our technology successes and build on them. After all, our technology efforts now provide tremendous support to the agriculture, logistics and manufacturing sectors in the state – three of our main cogs.”

The Technology and Innovation Policy Summit on December 15 will unveil all the council’s legislative goals.

A complete rundown of the Indiana Chamber’s 2017 key legislative initiatives (top priorities and additional areas of focus) is available at www.indianachamber.com/priorities.

Also at the legislative preview event, five state legislators were honored as Indiana Chamber Small Business Champions “for their hard work and dedication to improving Indiana’s small business climate.” This award is based on voting and advocacy during the past legislative session.

The 2016 Small Business Champions are: Sen. Travis Holdman from Markle, District #19; Sen. Tim Lanane from Anderson, District #25; Rep. Matt Lehman from Berne, District #79; Rep. Karlee Macer from Indianapolis, District# 92; and Rep. Ed Soliday from Valparaiso, District #4.

Recap of the Indiana Chamber’s Top 8 legislative priorities:

  • Support establishing a long-term sustainable funding stream for the state’s roads, bridges, etc.
  • Support the expansion of publicly-funded preschool initiatives for children from low income families
  • Support suitable testing for students and accountability for all involved in the education process
  • Support comprehensive approach to decreasing the state’s smoking rate
  • Support a statewide water policy to assure future resources and our economic prosperity
  • Support making technology innovation an integral part of the state’s identity
  • Support maintaining and enhancing our attractive tax climate
  • Support a work share program that will allow employers to maintain a skilled stable workforce during temporary downturns

Driving Force: Rep. Dan Leonard Named 2016 Government Leader of the Year

Old habits die hard. And that’s a good thing – for Hoosier businesses and their employees – when linked to Dan Leonard’s propensity to serve others.

He fondly recalls time spent as a child at his parent’s country grocery store. Leonard started ringing up customers as soon as he was tall enough (aided by a trusty bar stool) to reach the cash register.

“I remember the first day we had a $100 day in the grocery store. It was a big deal!” he says with a laugh.

Those early memories sparked a penchant for building relationships and a passion for making a difference – whatever the scale.

Leonard owns South Side Furniture of Huntington, a business he purchased from his father in 1978. Elected to the Indiana House of Representatives in 2002, he serves Huntington County, and portions of Wells and Allen counties. He’s a member of the House Ways and Means Committee (and local government finance subcommittee chair), Judiciary Committee and is the speaker of the House’s appointee to the Native American Indian Affairs Commission…

Read the full story in BizVoice.

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