Gubernatorial Race: John Gregg, Eric Holcomb Offer Policy Insights in BizVoice

The 2016 election season has been like no other – nationally and in Indiana. In the September/October issue, the Indiana Chamber’s BizVoice® magazine talks with some of the leading candidates as the road to November winds toward a close.
Gubernatorial race: John Gregg, Eric Holcomb offer policy insights:

greggBV: What areas might we be in disagreement?

Gregg: “I don’t think there are those issues that exist. That’s why I referred to the old fights. Let’s throw those elephants on the table. Right to work would have been one in the past, but that is the past. That’s not going to change. You know the makeup of the Legislature. I think you’ll find we share a lot of common goals together.

“We may disagree from time to time on how to get there, but the truth of the matter is that in our administration we’re going to be dealing with an overwhelming Republican Legislature. Having a check and balance – right now there is not one – is good.”

Read the full story online.


holcombBV: Why is Indiana having such success attracting tech companies?

Holcomb: “I would say don’t just ask me, but the CEOs that are making the decisions that are creating not just the hundreds, but the thousands of new high-tech jobs coming to Indiana – not Austin, Texas; not Boston, Massachusetts; not San Francisco, California; not Chicago. They’re choosing to locate in Indiana, a state that has traditionally been known as a manufacturing state, because of those low tax rates, the reasonable
regulatory environment. We have the great communities that are offering hungry, world-class university graduates a good opportunity and a good job.

“(Our momentum will increase) if we continue to get the basics right and don’t make promises we can’t keep, start writing checks we can’t cash, start raiding the kitty – if we stick to the successful practices that we’ve experienced over the last 12 years and we offer good government service that operates at the speed of business.”

Read the full story online.

ChamberCare Solutions Program Provides Health Care Answers

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More than six years after the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, it’s still not an easy process for companies to determine the best health care choices. Important assistance and options are now available through the ChamberCare Solutions program.

The Indiana Chamber has partnered with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield since 2004 on ChamberCare – an insurance discount offering for businesses with between two and 99 employees. More than 25,000 employee lives (and 50,000 lives when spouses and dependents are included) were covered through ChamberCare.

Now, ChamberCare Solutions takes that partnership to an even higher level with a suite of solutions to help meet insurance needs.

“The Indiana Chamber-Anthem partnership has been an excellent one for our member companies, as well as their employees and families,” says Jennifer Elkin, Chamber senior vice president of marketing. “There have been more questions than answers since the Affordable Care Act was signed. We’ve been listening, discussing and searching for the right tools and products – and we’ve found them in this evolution to ChamberCare Solutions.”

The ChamberCare Solutions options include:

  • ChamberCare Savings: This is the previous ChamberCare discount program – now available for companies with between 51 and 99 employees. This was made possible by the late 2015 signing of the PACE Act (Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees), which returned the definition of a small business back to one with fewer than 100 employees.
  • ChamberCare Exchange: For companies with fewer than 50 employees and a potentially unhealthy, higher-risk population, the exchange might be the best alternative. Important guidance and navigation is available through Anthem.
  • ChamberCare Business Resources or a PEO (Professional Employer Organization): This is an attractive option for companies that, in addition to a competitive health care product, are looking to outsource some of their human resources functions. The multiple employers in the PEO allow the advantage of using a company’s experience rating compared to the generally more volatile community rating.

The Indiana Chamber and Anthem are teaming with Indianapolis-based Human Capital Concepts (HCC) on the PEO. Harlan Schafir, CEO of HCC, started the state’s first PEO in the early 1990s; he and his team have more than 125 years of experience in the industry.

“We are in the midst of an unprecedented talent war,” Schafir explains. “A PEO allows companies to attract and retain talent by improving employee benefit offerings and helps these organizations mold an attractive culture. Working with a PEO allows companies to focus on their core mission. The PEO takes care of compliance with ever-complex laws and regulations; company leaders focus on running their business.”

  • ChamberCare Shared Savings: This is a future offering under development by Anthem. It is expected to allow for self-funding for employers with as few as 25 employees. To date, such plans have only been available for organizations with at least 100 employees.

“The Indiana Chamber has advocated and educated on health care issues for many years. We’re pleased to add this in-depth navigation benefit,” Elkin adds. “Being able to offer these choices – with more to come – will save members money and allow to further invest in their people and businesses.”

Learn more or contact Nick Luchtefeld at (800) 824-6885.

Logistics, Infrastructure Take Center Stage at Summit

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Hoosiers don’t take lightly the title “Crossroads of America.”

It’s a moniker we’ve earned honestly: The state is in the heart of the Midwest and is one of the top manufacturing states in the country. Going hand-in-hand with manufacturing success are logistics and distribution, and the ability for Hoosier companies to move their goods efficiently and through cost-effective means.

We move products by sea, rail, over the road and through the air to national and global locations. More than 700 million tons of freight is moved annually in Indiana, according to the Indiana Department of Transportation.

As part of the ongoing Beyond the Bicentennial campaign, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce will release an open letter detailing the necessary policy positions for advancing the state’s Superior Infrastructure, as outlined in the Chamber’s long-range economic development plan Indiana Vision 2025. The letter, to be published on Sept. 27, will be the third in a series of four letters addressed to the major party gubernatorial candidates. Each letter details policies impacting the four drivers of Indiana Vision 2025. Additionally, the Indiana Logistics Summit will return to downtown Indianapolis on Nov. 16-17.

Keynote speaker Paul N. Jaenichen, Sr., United States Maritime Administrator, will address attendees on Nov. 17. Jaenichen was appointed to his position by President Obama in 2014 and is a retired career naval officer. He was a nuclear trained Submarine Officer in the U.S. Navy for 30 years, and will be speaking about the National Maritime Transportation Strategy and Marine highway projects.

New to the summit will be a series of educational breakout sessions. These will feature speakers on topics such as: rail, air cargo, barge and trucking industries; going global; innovation; policy; and workforce.

Early discounted registration is open until Sept. 30 (though registration will continue after that date). Visit the web site at www.indianalogistics.com for more information and to register.

Road Funding Committee Discussions Ramp Up

9809397An in-depth interim summer study committee on road funding (called FIRSST) held its second meeting last week. This was an input session that focused on how Indiana’s road conditions and funding compare to other states.

There were several informative presentations from several different groups including Conexus and the National Conference of State Legislatures. Points of interest from the discussion:

  • For the U.S., average funding sources for highways and transit are 25% federal, 40% state and 35% local.
  • Indiana’s deficient roads cost $391 per motorist per year. This includes flat tires, bent rims and other costs.
  • Some 16% or 9,965 miles of Indiana’s roads are considered in poor condition; that ranks us third among six Midwestern states.
  • A total of 10.2% or 1,944 Indiana bridges are considered deficient in quality; that ranks us second among six Midwestern states.
  • Investment in road infrastructure is declining, even when adjusted for inflation.
  • There are 54 potential funding sources for road funding ranging from fuel taxes to parking meters.
  • Fuel taxes have not kept up with the infrastructure needs. Automobiles are more fuel efficient and inflation has been eating away the buying power of gas taxes. Indiana last raised its gas tax in 2003 and it is not indexed for inflation.
  • As electric cars become more popular, very few states – including Indiana – impose fees for their use of roads. Of the 10 states that do, the fee ranges from $47.50-$200 per year.
  • Of the 50 states, 36 – Indiana among them – have toll roads.

The Indiana Chamber will continue to encourage the development and implementation of fiscal systems to support the array of transportation infrastructure projects critical to economic growth. The next FIRSST meeting is scheduled for September 29.

A Look at Pre-K Expansion and New Coalition

GIt is now late summer, and that means that we’ve reached back-to-school time in Indiana. It is a big year in the Auslander household as my youngest embarks on her first year of pre-K. However, there are thousands of less-fortunate Hoosier 4-year olds that will not have that opportunity to join her.

The Indiana Chamber has been supportive of pre-K in our legislative priorities for years and was a champion in promoting the passage of the state-funded pilot program “On My Way Pre-K” in five counties (Allen, Lake, Marion, Jackson and Vanderburgh), as the business community strongly believes that children who receive a quality start to their education will succeed better and need less remediation moving forward in their schooling.

There have been many recent announcements on pre-K during this busy campaign season. The Chamber has chosen to endorse and help lead the efforts with the All IN 4 Pre-K initiative recently rolled out across the state.

This plan focuses on several key non-negotiable points:

  • Expansion of the pilot program to include more Hoosier children from low-income families
  • Pre-K programs included must be of high-quality – level 3 or 4 of Paths to Quality (Family and Social Services Administration quality rankings)
  • Pre-K programs should include a mixed-delivery system of providers: centers, schools (public and private), ministries and family homes
  • Work with the Legislature to find an appropriate budget amount to fund the expansion, within the constraints of the budget and revenue forecasts
  • Continue reporting requirements put into place with the existing pilot program
    According to the Indiana Department of Education, our state spends nearly $32 million a year on kindergarten remediation. The expansion of a state-funded pre-K program could significantly mitigate those costs.

My daughter will succeed in her schooling because my husband and I can afford to send her to a quality program. Other Hoosier students are not nearly as fortunate. The Indiana Chamber is ready to once again make this a priority for the upcoming legislative session.

UPS Offers X-PORT Challenge Prizes

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Small and medium-sized businesses with global aspirations have the opportunity to win $10,000 in export shipping with UPS. The UPS X-PORT Challenge aims to help local businesses export to international markets.

“The UPS X-PORT Challenge is an example of our commitment to innovation, global trade and entrepreneurism,” says Bill Seward, UPS U.S. International President, “Less than one percent of America’s 30 million companies export – a percentage that is significantly lower than all developed countries. And of U.S. companies that do export, 58 percent export to only one country. This competition presents an opportunity for growth-oriented businesses to expand internationally.”

Participants in the UPS X-PORT Challenge can begin the application process online. A local UPS representative will then provide the second part of the application, which gives businesses the opportunity to share their ideas for international expansion. That assessment will define the business’ specialty, degree of uniqueness, global appeal and market challenges. Applications must be received by Oct. 10, 2016.

The top 10 applicants will be invited to attend the “Pitch-Off” event on Nov. 10, 2016, in Louisville. Contestants will pitch their business to a panel of judges from the local international business community. The judges will then pick the top three finalists as prize-winners. The second and third place winners will receive $2,500 and $1,000, respectively, in export shipping.

‘Slow and Steady’ Not Just for the Tortoise

?????????????????????????????????????????????Kris Taylor of Evergreen Leadership authored a recent thoughtful blog post on the advantage of slowing down.

Below is her top 10 list. Check out the full post.

10 Reasons to Slow Your Pace

  1. Ensure you are going in the right direction
  2. Go farther over the long haul
  3. Go more safely
  4. Eliminate spinning out of control
  5. Savor the moment and ultimately the journey
  6. Bring others along, even though they slow the pace
  7. Avoid mistakes and mishaps
  8. Observe and learn along the way
  9. Maintain your health and well-being
  10. Be more focused and in the moment

Agents Identify Top Travel Destinations

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As the seasons change, so do the rankings of top travel destinations. So says Travel Leaders Group in its most recent nationwide survey of travel agents.

For the first time, the top rankings for domestic and international bookings belong to Maui, Hawaii and London. The 1,100-plus travel agency reps name the top destinations they are reserving for the remainder of the year. Results are based on actual booking data.
Two items in the news at various times during the year – Zika and the Brexit vote – may be contributing factors.

“The ‘Brexit’ vote and resulting fluctuation in the British pound has been incredibly favorable for American travelers, whether for leisure or business trips. While London has always been among the top international destinations on our list, this is further proof that travelers are very willing to adjust and seize upon a prime opportunity when there’s increased value in a particular destination,” states Travel Leaders Group CEO Ninan Chacko.

“Domestically, Maui has long been among the most sought after destinations for American travelers, but had never surpassed Orlando, Las Vegas or New York City for the top spot. Because the Zika virus has had an impact on some individuals’ travel decisions, particularly those who are pregnant, Maui’s positioning has been bolstered by having no cases of locally-transmitted Zika.”

The rankings:

Domestic
1. Maui, 34.1%
2. Orlando, 32.4%
3. New York City, 30.5%
4. Las Vegas, 28.0%
5. Cruise – Alaska, 25.5%
6. Los Angeles, 19.6%
7. Honolulu, 18.8%
8. San Francisco, 17.2%
9. Chicago, 14.2%
10. Washington, D.C., 12.4%

International
1. London, 31.0%
2. Cruise – Caribbean, 30.1%
3. Cancun, 29.1%
4. Rome, 23.2%
5. Paris, 17.7%
6. Cruise – Europe (river), 17.5%
7. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, 17.5%
8. Cruise – Europe (Mediterranean), 13.6%
9. Montego Bay, Jamaica, 10.8%
10. Florence/Tuscany, Italy, 10.0%

Seventy-nine percent of agents said booking were higher or on par with last year at this time and more than 72% were optimistic about their business for the remainder of the year.

TECH THURSDAY: Overflowing With Potential

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EDITOR’S NOTE: BizVoice® has featured technology/innovation stories throughout its 18-year history. Look for these flashbacks each Thursday. Here is a 2014 favorite.

For many beer connoisseurs, wasting a frothy beverage is an offense worthy of hefty reprimand. But for bar owners, not getting the last drop to customers is a hit to the bottom line as draft beer generates their highest profit margin.

SteadyServ, based in Carmel, has developed iKeg™ technology, which features a sensor and a mobile app to tell those behind the bar exactly how much beer is left in their kegs. It also communicates when the beer was delivered and tapped, as well as its age. Previous order information, consumption trends and local weather forecasts also help managers monitor beer inventory and sales potential.

The SteadyServ office features an innovative backroom complete with a walk-in cooler, half filled with kegs at the time of this interview.

SteadyServ CEO Steve Hershberger attempts to illustrate the guessing game employees must play when determining keg capacity. He asks the BizVoice® team – a reporter and a photographer – to lift a keg and then estimate how full it is. This reporter confidently guesses 60%. And our photographer? “25%,” he ventures.

Mission accomplished. “A bar’s largest margin is draft beer – typically by a factor of two,” Hershberger quantifies. “So you’re guessing about what you spend the most money on and what delivers you the most product every single week.”

Read the full story online.

Learn more about the Indiana Chamber’s new Technology & Innovation Council. Our first meeting was in August, and was well-attended. Want to participate? Contact Mark Lawrance at mlawrance(at)indianachamber.com.

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Sen. Donnelly’s Visit Highlights an Active Month for Our Congressional Affairs Committee

donnellyWhile the presidential election may be the talk of D.C. and the media, this is also a busy time of the year for federal policy conversations for the Indiana Chamber.

In mid-August alone, Sen. Joe Donnelly, Senate candidate Evan Bayh and state Sen. Jim Banks, the Republican candidate for congressional District 3, met with our congressional affairs committee members to discuss issues important to Indiana. And Congresswoman Susan Brooks (District 5) was the keynote speaker for our Indiana Conference on Energy Management, advocating for the need for both sustainable and affordable energy.

While we may never agree on all matters with our congressional members, their overall willingness to engage, listen and act – by and large – in the best interest of the Hoosier business community and residents is a longstanding hallmark of Indiana’s delegation. And we are very appreciative for that.

Donnelly, who is not up for re-election, shared his thoughts on a variety of issues during his nearly hour-long visit. For one, he contends the gridlock in Congress is overblown: “What you see on TV bears no reflection to what is reality.” He stressed that 80% of the time the group works together, but the 20% – which often features high profile issues – is what drives the media reports. And “time after time, the Indiana delegation works together.”

Whether that’s Brooks with Donnelly on the law to combat opioid abuse, signed by the President last month, or Indiana’s senior senator, Dan Coats, and Donnelly – joined by District 9 Congressman and Senate candidate Todd Young – leading the charge to suspend the medical device tax for two years. And these are just two of the many examples.

Incidentally, these are among the efforts that led to Donnelly being presented with the U.S. Chamber’s “Spirit of Enterprise” award at our office last week; the honor is for his continued commitment to job creation and economic growth.