Dan Evans: Early Childhood Education a Key to a Healthy Indiana

Dan Evans, President and CEO of Indiana University Health, explains why early childhood education and expanding preschool opportunities for families of all income levels is so critical to the health of our state.

Promise, Partnerships and Indiana’s Future

tThe following column, written by Indiana Chamber Vice President Tom Schuman, was written for Inside INdiana Business:

In the not exactly breaking news category, there is dysfunction at the top in leadership of Indiana’s K-12 education efforts with plenty of blame to go around. But the good news is this column has nothing to do with that.

Instead, it tells about the focus being placed where it needs to be – on today’s students who will be the future workforce and aspiring community leaders. We detail some of these stories in the March-April issue of BizVoice magazine, but share a few highlights with you here.

Like in Wabash, which initiated the Wabash County Promise to provide K-3 students with 529 college savings accounts to begin to change the culture and mindset about higher education. Students with accounts are seven times more likely to continue their education beyond high school, but this program is so much more than that.

Families, teachers, the business community, private sector funding partners and others are engaged and energized. The “promise” has expanded to LaGrange, Noble and Whitely counties and the application period is open through March 9 for additional pilots for the 2015-2016 school year. The ultimate goal: a successful Promise Indiana program.

Or go to Batesville in the southeastern portion of the state. The K-12 system, Ivy Tech Community College and local businesses have partnered on a program that has students dividing their time between all three locations each week. The result is young people with on-the-job work experience and substantial credits toward an associate degree – before they receive their high school diploma.

(Batesville has a variety of other initiatives that allow students to gain real-world experiences as a result of educators acknowledging that a great deal of learning takes place “outside our walls.”)

The school-business connection is Batesville is beginning to be replicated in other locations around the state. The Indiana Works Councils, specifically created to help these conversations and alignments occur, seem to be doing just that.

It does cause one to wonder, however: Why did this take so long? Business haves complained about not having access to the skilled workforce they need; educators, as a nature of their profession, are dedicated to helping ensure future success for their students.

Rick Sherck, executive director of the Noble County Economic Development Corporation, offered an explanation in BizVoice.

“For the most part, industry and education knew they needed each other. But they didn’t know how to go about forming that relationship. Sometimes it’s been an adversarial relationship. You hire someone out of high school and you complain about the educational system because they didn’t prepare them. It’s not industry’s fault and it’s not education’s fault. We just need to work together and find solutions and positive ways to engage youth.”

Well said.

Educators, if you’re not going into your local businesses to see how the skill sets have changed with today’s jobs, do so. The doors will be open. If the reasoning from school leaders is that too many other requirements prevent such activities, challenge the status quo and make time.

Business leaders, don’t complain about a lack of workforce skills unless you’re ready to be part of the solution. In fact, you should be driving the solution as a leading partner. Invest your time in the young people in your community and you will realize the benefits for years to come.

Remember, it’s all about the students. Keep that top of mind and great things will happen.

Bad ‘Sunday Sales’ Bill: Hoosier Businesses and Consumers Line Up in Opposition

BOrganizations representing Hoosier consumers and businesses today announced strong opposition to House Bill 1624 (Sale of Alcoholic Beverages) citing concerns that the legislation as amended is anti-consumer and anti-business.

“This issue has always been about bringing greater convenience and choice to consumers,” said Grant Monahan, president of the Indiana Retail Council. “Hoosiers believe that a product sold responsibly six days a week should be able to be sold on the seventh day. Instead of focusing on that, this amendment has turned this legislation into a debate about increasing restrictions on alcohol for consumers.”

The organizations stated that House Bill 1624 would negatively impact consumer choice and convenience regarding the ability to purchase alcohol at drug, grocery and convenience stores. Current language in the bill would place a mandatory ban on self-service shopping for distilled spirits at grocery and drug stores by requiring those stores to build a separate area to keep distilled spirits away from customers behind a counter. The Indiana Retail Council estimates that costs incurred by drug and grocery stores to retrofit each store to accommodate these new restrictions would exceed $100 million.

“The House took a bill intended to allow drug, convenience and grocery stores to sell alcohol on Sunday, the second-busiest shopping day of the week and modified it significantly – to shield package liquor stores from competition,” said Kevin Brinegar, president and CEO of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. “Hoosiers wanted more convenience but instead, the Indiana House of Representatives is on the verge of making their shopping less convenient every day of the week.”

The original version of HB 1624 allowed for carryout sales of alcohol at retail stores on Sunday from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and repealed an existing restriction which limits liquor stores ability to sell commodities. The repeal of the commodity restriction would enable liquor stores to sell nearly any product that a grocery store is able to sell, therefore better leveling the field of competition among retailers.

The current version of that bill places restrictions on the ability of consumers to purchase alcohol at drug and grocery stores by requiring that all distilled spirits be placed in a segregated area within the store in order to regulate the purchase. The amendment contains additional restrictions including limits on where beer and wine can be displayed in drug, grocery and convenience stores and new barriers on the “checkout process” at drug, grocery and convenience stores.

House Bill 1624 places no additional restrictions on package liquor stores.

“Everybody loses but liquor stores. Customers should decide who wins and loses in the marketplace – not the House of Representatives,” said Brinegar. “It’s time to go back to the drawing board for a new bill that would be truly pro-consumer and pro-business and not simply cater to the package stores interests once again.”

An amendment offered by State Rep. Jud McMillin would have removed the requirement on grocery and drug stores to retrofit their stores and place spirits away from customer behind a counter was defeated last week 47-45.

In the original and amended versions of the bill, liquor store owners continue to retain the monopoly on selling cold beer. The current version of HB 1624 will extend the liquor store monopoly to include self-service of liquor (the ability for a customer walk down an aisle to select products for purchase on their own before making a purchase at the register).

Indiana is the only state that allows alcohol sales on Sunday by the drink at bars, restaurants, sporting events and concerts yet prohibits the safer option of carryout sales for consumption at home. Indiana’s neighboring states all permit Sunday sales (IL, KY, MI, and OH).

Under current law, retailers are currently permitted to sell carryout alcohol from 7 a.m.-3 a.m. the following day (prevailing local time) Monday-Saturday. The bill does not change current laws allowing microbreweries and farm wineries to sell carryout alcohol on Sunday.

Common Construction Wage Repeal Now in the Mix at the Statehouse

statehouse picIt was a welcome surprise last week when the Indiana Chamber learned that the Common Construction Wage Bill (HB 1019) was going to receive a committee hearing. The Chamber testified it was in strong favor of repealing the CCW statute, noting this has been the organization’s position for many decades.

The Chamber told the committee that CCW prevents open and fair bidding competition for public construction projects. It establishes a government-sanctioned advantage for one set of contractors and workers over all others. It requires taxpayers to pay significantly above market wages, and therefore excessive taxes, on public construction projects. And it requires the setting of a government-mandated price to be paid for construction labor that is excessive and completely unnecessary; we don’t set minimum prices to be paid on other forms of labor, construction materials or equipment.

At the core of the issue for the Chamber: CCW costs taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in excess and unnecessary tax burdens. Chamber members – over 80% of which are small businesses – and the rest of the business community pay over half of the excess taxes caused by CCW. The remainder is paid by farmers and residential property owners, including elderly homeowners on fixed incomes.

In testimony, Chamber President Kevin Brinegar relayed the unfortunate situation that occurred nearly a decade ago when three massive public construction projects were going on in Indianapolis at the same time: Lucas Oil Stadium, the new Indianapolis Airport and the expansion of the Indiana Convention Center.

The wage committees on those projects chose union scale. And they further chose union-only project labor agreements which effectively excluded the non-union contractors from participating. At the height of the construction of those projects, there was not enough union labor to work on all three simultaneously. And rather than go to skilled, trained Hoosiers who didn’t happen to hold a union card to fill those needs, they went to union halls in Ohio, Kentucky and Illinois. That meant literally thousands of out-of-state workers – approximately 4,000 – came to work on our projects funded by our tax dollars instead of using qualified Indiana workers. The wages paid to those individuals went back to Ohio, Illinois and Kentucky to be used in their economies, not in ours. The Chamber views this as unfair and inappropriate.

Brinegar also told the group he served on approximately 40 wage-setting committees during his 12 years on the Noblesville School Board. In a property tax-capped environment, cash-strapped local units of government, like schools, cannot afford to pay inflated costs for their construction projects.

The Chamber closed its argument by calling CCW an unnecessary and wasteful interference by government into the free enterprise system and a relic of the 1930s – a costly one that is far past time to be repealed.

Many others testified in favor of the repeal. The Anderson Economic Group said it had conducted a study in Illinois and Michigan on how much CCW added to overall costs. The Fort Wayne City Council president testified to the many projects that will be coming to Fort Wayne that could save millions of dollars if CCW is repealed. He further testified that the CCW committee process is predetermined. The former mayor of Terre Haute added that cities have been beaten up over the property tax caps; repeal of CCW would alleviate some of that problem. The Associated Builders and Contractors stated that government should not be in the business of mandating wages.

House Bill 1019 is expected to receive a final floor debate on Monday. Organized labor is mounting stiff opposition to the measure in an effort, much like in the fight over right-to-work, to protect a special, government-created privilege at the expense of taxpayers and the free market. The Chamber will be diligently working with like-minded organizations to secure passage of HB 1019.

Call to Action: Please send a brief message to your state representative in support of HB 1019 and repealing the common construction wage law. It’s quick and easy via our grassroots program!

Postsecondary Pathways Clearly Paved in Batesville

“A healthy manufacturing environment in Indiana in large part determines the health of our state economically,” said Kim Ryan, president of Batesville Casket Company, at the Indiana Youth Institute Postsecondary Pathways event in Batesville last week. The Indiana Chamber was a co-sponsor.

Ryan enthusiastically encouraged educators in the room to share manufacturing opportunities with their students, and emphasized the importance of developing local talent in order for communities to keep critical employers. And she said employers play a large role in this effort by partnering with their local school system.

Batesville High School focuses on providing opportunities for students to learn outside the classroom with the help of local employers like Batesville Casket, Batesville Tool & Die and Heartwood Manufacturing. Students can take classes at Ivy Tech and then spend time learning with these local employers.

I toured Heartwood Manufacturing and was impressed by the diversity of the products they can produce and the quality. They have a staff of about 50, and they offer learning opportunities to students from Batesville High School. Students are able to create a product from beginning to end – from ordering the parts and understanding the financial side to putting it together. One student was even building a gun case!

Learn more about the participating businesses:

Top 100 Best Places to Work in Indiana Companies Named; Indiana Chamber Announces Rankings May 7

best places logoThe 100 companies selected as a 2015 Best Place to Work in Indiana include some new faces, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce announced today. A third (33) of the honorees are making their debut or returning to the list after at least a year’s absence.

“A record-breaking number of applicants – approaching 200 – has made the program more competitive,” says Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar. “That shows in which organizations were selected as a Best Place to Work and in the rankings themselves.

“We have stellar mainstays who continue to impress with their work environment, perennial participants who made strides on the list and some newcomers who deserved attention. This group truly showcases a cream of the crop of Hoosier employers,” he states.

“These are organizations that demonstrate to their employees through their culture, communication, career opportunities, benefits and more how much they value their contributions to the overall success and bottom line.”

The actual rankings for the companies will be unveiled at a May 7 awards dinner, presented in partnership with Hylant, at the JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis. Elements Financial is the reception sponsor.

These top companies in the state were determined through employer reports and comprehensive employee surveys. The Best Companies Group, which handled the selection process, oversees similar programs in 26 other states.

Winners were selected from four categories: small companies of between 15 and 74 U.S. employees; medium companies of between 75 and 249 U.S. employees; large companies of between 250 and 999 U.S. employees; and major companies with 1,000 or more U.S. employees. Out-of-state parent companies were eligible to participate if at least 15 full-time employees are in Indiana.

Organizations on this year’s list that have displayed sustained excellence during the program’s 10-year history received additional recognition.

Hall of Fame companies are those that have been named a Best Place to Work in Indiana at least two-thirds of the time in the program’s history; a total of 13 organizations on the 2015 list meet that criteria. Two companies – Edward Jones and Katz, Sapper & Miller – have made the Best Places to Work list all 10 years of the program.

The Pinnacle designation is reserved for those that have finished first in their category three or more times in a five-year period. The three Pinnacle companies are Edward Jones (tops in the large employer category from 2006-2008); Hollingsworth & Zivitz, P.C. (first in the small employer category from 2011-2014); and Microsoft (tops in the major employer category in 2013-2014 and in the large category in 2011-2012).

In addition to the May 7 awards dinner, winners will be recognized via a special section of the Indiana Chamber’s bimonthly BizVoice® magazine and through Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick – both of which reach statewide audiences. Additional program partners are the Best Companies Group, Indiana Economic Development Corporation, Indiana State Council of SHRM and the Wellness Council of Indiana. The 2015 Best Places to Work in Indiana awards dinner is open to the public. Individual tickets and tables are available online.

All companies that participated in the 2015 Best Places to Work program receive an in-depth evaluation identifying strengths and weaknesses according to their employees. In turn, this report can be used in developing or enhancing employee retention and recruitment programs.

For more information on the Best Places to Work program, go to www.bestplacestoworkIN.com.

Additional Best Places to Work in Indiana sponsors are: Moser Consulting, Inc.; Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari; ADVISA; Centier Bank; Conner Insurance; DTZ; Smithville Communications, Inc.; and Trilogy Health Services, LLC.

Sponsorships are still available; email jwagner@indianachamber.com for more details.
The 2015 Best Places to Work in Indiana companies listed in alphabetical order, no ranking:

(*Hall of Fame companies)

Small Companies (15-74 U.S. employees) (41)
Company / Primary Indiana Location

American Income Life Indiana / Indianapolis
Apex Benefits / Indianapolis
BlueSky Technology Partners / Noblesville
Community First Bank of Indiana / Kokomo
Conner Insurance / Indianapolis
Cripe / Indianapolis
Cushman & Wakefield/Summit / Indianapolis
Delivra / Indianapolis
Design Collaborative, Inc. / Fort Wayne
Diverse Tech Services / Indianapolis
E-gineering, LLC / Indianapolis
eImagine Technology Group / Indianapolis
FirstPerson / Indianapolis
Formstack, LLC / Indianapolis
Goelzer Investment Management, Inc. / Indianapolis
Hanapin Marketing / Bloomington
Heritage Petroleum, LLC / Evansville
Hollingsworth & Zivitz, P.C. / Carmel
IDSolutions / Noblesville
Indiana CPA Society / Indianapolis
Indianapolis Indians / Indianapolis
JA Benefits, LLC / Bedford
KA+A / Indianapolis
Lakeside Wealth Management / Chesterton
Leaf Software Solutions / Carmel
Luther Consulting, LLC / Carmel
Magnum Logistics, Inc. / Plainfield
Mainstreet / Carmel
MMY Consulting, Inc. / Indianapolis
Morales Group, Inc. / Indianapolis
Oak Street Funding / Carmel
One Click Ventures / Greenwood
Pathfinders Advertising / Mishawaka
PolicyStat / Carmel
Scale Computing / Indianapolis
SmartIT / Indianapolis
Swagelok Indiana | Cincinnati / Indianapolis
The Skillman Corporation / Indianapolis
VOSS Automotive / Fort Wayne
Weddle Bros. Construction Company, Inc. / Bloomington
Wessler Engineering / Indianapolis

Medium Companies (75-249 U.S. employees) (24)

Allegient, LLC / Indianapolis
Apparatus / Indianapolis
Bierman ABA Autism Center / Indianapolis
Butler, Fairman & Seufert, Inc. / Indianapolis
Community Bank Shares of Indiana, Inc. / New Albany
Elements Financial / Indianapolis
enVista / Carmel
Gibson / South Bend
Indesign, LLC / Indianapolis
Indiana Oxygen / Indianapolis
J.C. Hart Company, Inc. / Carmel
Katz, Sapper & Miller* / Indianapolis
MJ Insurance, Inc.* / Indianapolis
Moser Consulting / Indianapolis
National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) / Indianapolis
Orchard Software Corporation / Carmel
Peoples Bank SB / Munster
Project Lead The Way, Inc. / Indianapolis
Purdue Federal Credit Union / West Lafayette
Sheridan Community Schools / Sheridan
Software Engineering Professionals, Inc. / Carmel
Unique Management Services/Unique Integrated Communications / Jeffersonville
United Consulting* / Indianapolis
United Leasing, Inc. / Evansville

Large Companies (250-999 U.S. employees) (20)

American Structurepoint / Indianapolis
Appirio / Indianapolis
Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company* / Fort Wayne
Centier Bank* / Merrillville
Duke Realty Corporation / Indianapolis
FORUM Credit Union / Fishers
Fusion Alliance* / Indianapolis
Hall Render Killian Heath & Lyman, PC* / Indianapolis
Hylant / Indianapolis
IPMG / West Lafayette
Kemper CPA Group LLP / Multiple locations
Magna Powertrain Muncie / Muncie
Monarch Beverage / Indianapolis
Mountjoy Chilton Medley LLP / Jeffersonville
Ontario Systems / Muncie
Shiel Sexton Company, Inc.* / Indianapolis
Sikich LLP / Indianapolis
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, LLC / Indianapolis
The Kendall Group / Fort Wayne
Traylor Bros., Inc. / Evansville

Major Companies (1,000+ U.S. employees) (15)

Aerotek / Indianapolis
Capital Group* / Carmel
DTZ* (formerly Cassidy Turley) / Indianapolis
Eaton / South Bend
Edward Jones* / Statewide
Emmis Communications* / Indianapolis
Hilliard Lyons / Multiple locations
Horseshoe Casino Hammond / Hammond
Interactive Intelligence* / Indianapolis
Microsoft Corporation / Indianapolis
Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart P.C. / Indianapolis
RCI* / Carmel
Total Quality Logistics / Indianapolis
Trilogy Health Services, LLC / Multiple locations
WestPoint Financial Group* / Indianapolis

Making a College ‘Promise’; Community Applications Available

bThe March-April issue of the Indiana Chamber’s BizVoice magazine will include a feature on the Wabash County Promise and the move to expand that to Promise Indiana.

What is the Promise? It’s creating college savings accounts for young people as early as kindergarten, but it’s also so much more — changing the culture and mindset about the importance of education to young people, families and communities.

Wabash County began its work in 2013. Three more counties (LaGrange, Noble and Whitley) came on board in 2014. Now, applications are open through March 9 for additional pilot counties for the upcoming school year.

Local leadership and support are the keys to success. Data and resources are provided to assist selected counties in a program that is gaining national attention and praise.

Remembers, to see the full story in BizVoice (online and in the mail on February 27).

Why the Chamber Supports Common Construction Wage Repeal

Indiana Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kevin Brinegar on the decision of House Republicans to pursue House Bill 1019, which would repeal the state’s common construction wage statute. The bill passed the House Employment, Labor and Pensions Committee early this afternoon:

“The Indiana Chamber of Commerce, although surprised to learn of the addition of this issue to the 2015 legislative agenda, has been a strong supporter of this common sense reform for decades. In a year in which a new two-year state budget will be adopted, actions that help provide additional taxpayer protections are particularly important.

“Repealing the common construction wage removes government-mandated pay scales and restores fair and open competition to public construction projects. With local governments and schools facing increasing financial pressures, projected taxpayer savings of between 10% and 20% per project are welcome news.

“The arbitrary common construction wage process prevents accountability on taxpayer-funded projects and often precludes local contractors from bidding for local work. Other states that do not have a common construction wage law have realized demonstrated cost savings, while maintaining the high-quality work delivered throughout the construction industry.”

Population Time Machine: From 1920 to 2010

AThe always interesting Indiana Business Research Center at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year. As a result, it is releasing information about how the state has changed over that time frame.

A recent release looks at population shifts from 1920 to 2010. The map on the IBRC site provides the visual as 17 counties (many on the western edge of the state) declined in population in that 90-year span; 15 counties experienced at least 200% growth. Here are the lists:

  • Population decline: Benton, Warren, Fountain, Vermillion, Parke, Clay, Sullivan, Greene, Knox, Martin, Pike, Crawford, Tipton, Blackford, Jay, Randolph and Rush
  • At least 200% growth: Lake, Porter, Elkhart, Allen, Tippecanoe, Hamilton, Hendricks, Hancock, Morgan, Johnson, Monroe, Bartholomew, Scott, Clark and Warrick

Marion, Lake, Allen and St. Joseph counties combined for 25% of the state’s population in 1920. That percentage increased to 36% in the 1960s and 1970s before declining to 31% in 2010.

“Testify!” Here’s What the Chamber Testified On at the Statehouse Last Week

statehouse picOn behalf of the business community, the Indiana Chamber’s lobbying team testified on a variety of bills last week, including:

HB 1262 – Return and Complete Grant: The Chamber testified in support; the bill would provide opportunities and incentives for students who previously left college to make an easier transition back into school and then into the workforce.

HB 1319 – Acquisition of Distressed Utilities: The Chamber testified in support of a fair, reasonable and effective development of our Indiana water infrastructure. This bill has the potential to do
just that and incentivize new investment, especially in rural Indiana.

HB 1624 – Sale of Alcoholic Beverages: The Chamber testified in
support of Sunday sales but had to oppose the amended bill because
of the onerous regulations and unacceptable costs it now places on liquor store competitors, aka retailers.

SB 1 – State Board Governance: The Chamber testified in support of this bill, which seeks to allow the State Board of Education to elect its own chair in order to have a more effective body. However, we believe the Governor, as the executive branch leader, should be allowed to control the appointment process for State Board members.

SB 177 – Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Costs: The Chamber testified in support, pointing out that this bill allows the water and wastewater utility to make the necessary improvements in a strategic manner, plus the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission has approval authority to keep the costs in check.

SB 306 – Limited Liability Arising From Trespassing: The Chamber testified in support, believing that property owners should not owe duty to trespassers (as outlined in this bill).

SB 348 – Advanced Technology Vehicles: The Chamber testified in support because hybrid, electric and other alternative-fuel vehicles currently get a “free ride” as they do not pay fuel taxes that support the state’s roads and highway infrastructure.

SB 373 – Funding of Lawsuits: The Chamber testified in opposition, noting that the preferred regulation of the “lawsuit lending” industry would be with a cap on interest rates and the measures that were presented in the House version (HB 1340).

SB 394 – Reporting of Government Malfeasance: The Chamber testified in support, appreciating the efforts of the bill to help persuade local government employees to speak up without fear of repercussion if they have reason to suspect official misconduct.

SB 416 – Employee’s Right to Scheduled Employment: The Chamber testified in opposition, voicing concerns over the difficulty this bill would place on employers and their ability to be flexible in scheduling employees for work.

SB 436 – State and Local Taxation: The Chamber testified in support of the personal property tax exemption for small businesses but voiced displeasure over the 30% depreciation floor provision being removed and the proposed assessment methods (support in part/oppose in part).

SB 479 – Evaluation of Solid Waste Management Districts (SWMDs): The Chamber testified in support, stating that the overall mission, funding and accountability of the SWMDs should be carefully reconsidered.

SB 568 – Religious Freedom Restoration Act: The Chamber testified in opposition, focusing mainly on the concern that this would place employers in the position of having to determine the legitimacy of religious belief claims and expose those employers to unwarranted legal action.

SR 8 – Guidance for Chemical Facilities for Requirements Under the Environmental Stewardship Program: The Chamber testified in support, citing that recognition provided by the state’s Environmental Stewardship Program should promote a more aggressive safe-handling program for chemicals.