Toll Road Tales: Good News for Taxpayers, Motorists

TReactions were varied recently when the company operating the Indiana Toll Road filed for bankruptcy. A researcher at the Harvard Kennedy School emphasizes the positive aspects of how that deal was structured and focuses on the continually evolving role of each party in such an agreement. Governing reports:

n 2005, two companies came together to form the Indiana Toll Road Concession Co. (ITRCC), which won the right to operate the toll road in exchange for a $3.8 billion up-front payment. The deal limited how much tolls could rise and included a trigger requiring the consortium to expand the roadway if certain congestion benchmarks were reached. The $3.8 billion threw off about $250 million that was used to fund other state transportation priorities.

Like so many other enterprises, ITRCC was done in by the Great Recession. Its financing structure called for large debt payments at the end of the first decade, which proved overwhelming in the face of revenues that didn’t meet projections when the downturn hit and traffic volume fell.

But what’s reassuring is that motorists will see no interruption in service or toll increases as a result of the bankruptcy. The roadway is still subject to the same performance metrics, and there will be no taxpayer bailout. State officials will first try to find a new operator to take on the remainder of the concession deal. If that doesn’t work out, the ITRCC will likely be recapitalized with an altered debt schedule.

In either case, customers will retain the benefits from the $458 million ITRCC has invested since 2006 in road, bridge and pavement improvements and a new electronic tolling system.

While it appears that the Indiana Toll Road deal has succeeded at protecting taxpayers and motorists, that doesn’t mean there aren’t lessons to be learned from the bankruptcy. To maintain a true public-private partnership, governments might want to avoid taking the entire concession payment up front.

Chicago completed a similar deal just before the Indiana Toll Road agreement and couldn’t resist the temptation to use the upfront windfall to plug other holes in the city budget instead of using interest from the concession payment to maintain transportation infrastructure. More recently, public-private partnerships for Virginia’s Pocahontas 895 parkway and Colorado’s Northwest Parkway featured smaller upfront payments but give taxpayers a cut of the ongoing toll revenue.

Why We Love Manufacturing Day

N“Every dollar spent in manufacturing generates $1.32 for the economy.” – U.S. Chamber

Friday, October 3 was National Manufacturing Day (MFG Day), a celebration of an industry often taken for granted in the U.S., an industry that is struggling to find talent, and an industry that has a significant economic impact on Indiana, the nation and the world.

MFG Day addresses common misperceptions about the industry by giving manufacturers an opportunity to open their doors and show, in a coordinated effort, what manufacturing is — and what it isn’t. There were 1,647 MFG Day events throughout the U.S. and Canada (even Puerto Rico!) and some that will continue through October, November and December.

There were 71 events in Indiana alone in every region of the state. 3D Parts Manufacturing, LLC in Indianapolis showed guests 3D printing in action. Amatrol in Jeffersonville offered five tours of their facility. Blackford High School students in Huntington had the opportunity to tour Mayco International, Reflective Industries and Tru-Form Steel and Wire. Caltherm partnered with Columbus North High School for presentations and a facility tour, then allowed freshman to create academic plans with assistance from their guidance counselors based on what they learned. The EDC of Wayne County showed the “American Made Movie,” followed by a tour of Colorbox with students, business and community leaders.

The U.S. Department of Labor said manufacturers have added more than 700,000 jobs since early 2010, jobs with an average salary of $77,000.

Indiana has seen its own economic development success in the manufacturing industry. Indiana leads the nation in manufacturing job growth over the last year with 20,000+ jobs created. Indiana has also added the second most manufacturing jobs (+84,100) in the U.S. since July 2009, at a rate that also ranks second in nation (+19.7%).

Linking Veterans With Jobs and More

sThe Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs will be visiting eight Hoosier communities over the next several weeks, holding Community Outreach events that will offer veterans, active duty members and their dependents opportunities to connect with services and prospective employers.

All events are free. Registration is requested for planning purposes. Each event will be held from 1:00-6:00 p.m. (local time) in the following communities:

  • October 27 – Valparaiso – Porter County Expo Center, 215 E. Division Road, Valparaiso. Register
  • October 28 – South Bend – Ivy Tech Community College, 220 Dean Johnson Blvd, South Bend. Register 
  • October 29 – Ft. Wayne – Ivy Tech Community College, Coliseum Campus, Room 1640, Fort Wayne. Register
  • November 6 – Terre Haute – Ivy Tech Community College Terre Haute Main Campus, The Community Room, 8000 South Education Drive, Terre Haute. Register
  • November 13 – Bloomington – Ivy Tech Community College, 200 Daniels Way, Hoosier Times Student Commons, Bloomington. Register
  • November 20 – Columbus – Ivy Tech Community College, 4475 Central Avenue, Columbus Learning Center, Columbus. Register
  • December 4 – Lafayette – Ivy Tech Community College, Grand Hallway, 3101 S. Creasy Lane, Lafayette. Register
  • December 9 – Kokomo – Indiana Wesleyan, Kokomo Education and Conference Center, 1916 East Markland Avenue, Kokomo. Register

Additional outreach events will be planned for Muncie, New Albany, Bedford and Jasper. Those interested in attending events in these communities can find more information here or call (800) 400-4520.

“Each event will provide information and assistance with VA benefits, claims processing, remission of fees and even what to do if someone wants to enroll or return to college,” said Deanna Pugh, Director of Veterans Employment and Education. “The Indiana State Police, Dish, NiSource, United States Postal Service, Kroger and Lowes will be among the companies and organizations looking to hire employees to work in these communities.

“We will also offer Dale Carnegie sessions to help veterans prepare for interviews. We’re very excited about connecting our resources to our veteran communities and helping link those who have served our country with the many services designed specifically to assist them.”

A new state law that took effect July, 1, 2014, allows for approximately 26,000 post-911 veterans to apply for assistance through the Military Family Relief Fund. This new law eliminates the three-year restriction on access to the fund, which provides grants that may be used for needs such as food, housing, utilities, medical services, transportation and other essential family expenses. The Military Family Relief Fund has a balance of more than $7 million and lifting the cap will ensure those funds are available to support Hoosier veterans and their families.

Since its establishment in 1945, the Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA) has remained focused on aiding and assisting “Hoosier” veterans, and qualified family members or survivors, who are eligible for benefits or advantages provided by Indiana and the U.S. government.

IMPACT Award Nominees Sought to Honor Outstanding Interns; Due Oct. 24

19090046Did you host an intern this year who went above and beyond? Does your company have an internship program that provides a solid experiential learning opportunity for students? Do you collaborate with a high school or post-secondary institution with an outstanding career development staff?

Indiana INTERNnet is saluting achievements in internships and mentoring. The organization is currently accepting nominations for the three outstanding interns, a career development professional and two employers who will be recognized at the 9th annual IMPACT Awards luncheon, sponsored by Ivy Tech Community College, early next year.

Individuals are invited to submit more than one nomination in any or all of the award categories:

  • Outstanding Intern (high school, college and non-traditional): contribution to employer’s business; demonstrated leadership skills during internship; and professionalism.
  • Outstanding Career Development Professional: assistance to students with internship opportunities; communication with students/employers; and coaching students on internship professionalism and career development.
  • Outstanding Employer (nonprofit and for-profit): innovative approach to an internship program; formation of meaningful project work; and providing student with professional mentor and networking opportunities.

Winners will be announced at the IMPACT Awards Luncheon in downtown Indianapolis on February 4, 2015 at the Ivy Tech Culinary Center Ballroom.

Visit Indiana INTERNnet’s web site to complete the online nomination form. The deadline for nominations is October 24.

For more information about the Indiana INTERNnet program, visit www.IndianaINTERN.net or call (317) 264-6852.

Glas-Col (Terre Haute) Celebrates 75 Years of Innovation

glshisTerre Haute-based Glas-Col, LLC will celebrate 75 years of manufacturing laboratory products and industrial heating and mixing technology with an open house on October 21 (4:30 – 7 p.m.). A release from the company elaborates:

Glas-Col’s commitment to offering excellence in design and manufacturing for the laboratory product field allows us to provide a high level of service to our customers. We are not satisfied with second class, second rate or second best.

The goal of our company is now and has always been to be a world leader in the laboratory products market and to recognize and develop technology to continually evolve into new and expanding areas.

Our progress through the years can be attributed to our leadership, our dedication to our customer’s and one of our most important and valuable assets, our people. Without their dedication and work ethic our success would have been immeasurably less.

History
The term “brilliant mistake” might apply to Glas-Col’s earliest beginnings. The company’s web site regales us with the tale of how its founder discovered its earliest offering:

Fires ordinarily destroy businesses. But in the case of Glas-Col, fire sparked an idea that built one new company and brought great benefits to countless others. In 1939 Glas-Col’s future founder, Dr. Glen H. Morey, was a research chemist at Commercial Solvents Corporation in Terre Haute, IN. There as in most chemical laboratories, open flame gas burners and electric glow coils were commonly used to heat oil, sand, molten metal, and water baths. A sudden fire burst out in the Commercial Solvents lab when a gas burner heating an oil bath ignited vapors from a shattered flask of acetone dropped several feet away. Dr. Morey was injured in that fire, and it convinced him lab workers needed a new method for heating flasks–one that would eliminate the hazard of open flame burners and electric heaters with exposed coils.

Working in their spare time, Dr. Morey and his wife Ruth developed a heating device with electric resistance wires woven into a fiberglass cloth sheath. The Moreys called their new invention a “heating mantle” because it could completely envelope a laboratory flask, just as the earth’s mantle completely encloses the planet’s core.

Dr. Morey tested the heating mantle rigorously. He poured highly flammable solvents directly on hot mantles while they were being used to distill liquids from glass flasks. After he was unable to start a fire under any of his own test conditions, he submitted the heating mantle to other research chemists for their evaluation. Test after test proved the heating mantle dependable and non-flammable.

On October 24, 1939, the first purchase order for the heating mantle was sent from the Columbia Chemical Division, Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company of Barberton, Ohio. Two months later, on December 13, the Morey’s formed Glas-Col Apparatus Company to manufacture their new product. At the time Dr. Morey believed demand for the heating mantle would be rather limited and estimated total market saturation at about 25 thousand units. Being a good glass blower, he decided to market glass fractionating columns to supplement the company product line. The name Glas-Col is short for glass columns.

But Glas-Col never manufactured a single glass column. Orders for heating mantles poured in. Not only did companies request mantles for spherical distillation flasks, but they also wanted mantles to accommodate glass beakers, steel beakers, funnels, evaporating dishes and many other common laboratory vessels. Some companies banished open flames entirely from their labs and bought heating mantles even for test tubes. Dr. Morey’s original heating mantle design was issued patent #2231506 on February 11, 1941.

The significance of the Moreys’ invention was nationally recognized in 1951 during the American Chemical Society’s Diamond Jubilee. On that occasion the United States government issued a commemorative stamp which pictured the distinctive Glas-Col heating mantle covering the bottom of a flask attached to a laboratory distilling apparatus. The smoke billowing from the towers of a chemical process plant pictured on the stamp was in that era considered a sign of prosperity and economic vitality.

Breaking Down the Global Giants

95652571The IndustryWeek 1000 annual list of the world’s largest manufacturers always presents a voluminous display of data and growth trends. Among the biggest “news” from the list this time around is China Petroleum and Chemical Corp. ascending to No. 1 in revenues with $471,672 (in U.S. millions).

Royal Dutch Shell comes next at $459,599, followed by top U.S. entrant Exxon Mobil Corp. at $424,328. Other leading U.S. companies are Chevron Corp. (No. 11), Phillips 66 (No. 14), Apple Inc. (No. 15), General Motors (No. 19) and Ford Motor Co. (No. 20).

Below is a breakdown by the top six countries — total number on the list of 1,000, combined revenues of those companies and average annual growth:

  • United States: 333 companies, $7.6 trillion revenues, 3.1% average revenue growth
  • Japan: 172, $2.6 trillion and 8.6%
  • China: 61, $1.5 trillion and 7.0%
  • Germany: 35, $1.3 trillion and 1.5%
  • United Kingdom: 30, $1.2 trillion and 4.9%
  • France: 41, $1 trillion and 3.5%

Indiana Chamber Earns National Honors at ASCP Event in Oklahoma

ascp awardsThe Indiana Chamber earned the prestigious President’s Award for overall excellence at the recent Association of State Chamber Professionals (ASCP) meeting in Oklahoma City. ASCP is comprised of membership and marketing professionals from state chambers of commerce throughout the country. Its annual meeting is in conjunction with a gathering of the Council of State Chambers (presidents and CEOs of the same organizations).

The Indiana Chamber competed against 11 other states in the large Chamber category. In addition to the top honor, three second-place membership awards were also earned: highest market share, highest non-dues growth and highest retention in dollars. None of the 22 states competing in two categories won more than the Indiana Chamber’s four awards.

Chamber membership director Brock Hesler accepted the awards on behalf of the entire staff.

America, the Beautiful

7659613I love traveling. In fact, I am infatuated with traveling.

I’ve been to six different countries across three continents, and in January I plan on studying abroad in Europe for four months. It’s my greatest pleasure to seek adventure and experience culture, but something I often forget is just how awesome our home country is.

I found a list on BuzzFeed of the 29 most breathtaking places in the United States. You’ll want to check this out — and you might even need to update your bucket list.

Breaking Bad? Google Chairman Warns That Governments Could Effectively ‘Break Internet’

WIn a recent event hosted by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), Google Chairman Eric Schmidt offered an alarming prediction that governments, especially our own, could end up splintering the Internet into pieces. This, he argues, is because countries may prefer to operate their own Internet instead of allowing surveillance organizations, such as the National Security Agency, to collect data on their citizenry.

Wyden added that this would hurt American tech companies — and thus eliminate some American jobs.

Be sure to read the full National Journal article about these remarks, and watch the brief video featuring Schmidt’s comments.

Elephant Race: Analyst Ranks ’16 GOP Candidates

AGreg Valliere of the Potomac Research Group recently ranked the likelihood of 10 Republican hopefuls for the 2016 candidacy for President. Business Insider offers a summary for each candidate, but here’s the list. (And you’ll notice our governor made the list — and some in the media speculate he has a much better shot than that.):

10. Mike Pence
9. Scott Walker
8. Rick Santorum
7. Paul Ryan
6. Chris Christie
5. Mitt Romney
4. Ted Cruz
3. Rand Paul
2. Marco Rubio
1. Jeb Bush