Brinegar: RFRA Law is Unnecessary, but Indiana Remains Open for Business

16891298Indiana Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kevin Brinegar comments on SB 101, the Religious Freedom Restoration bill, becoming law today and the reaction to that:

“In our eyes, the law is entirely unnecessary. The reactions to it are not unexpected or unpredicted; passing the law was always going to bring the state unwanted attention.

“Yet we are optimistic that the public overall will continue to look to Indiana as a place to come to do business, attend a convention or enjoy a sporting event. Indiana has shown time and time again – whether it’s hosting the Super Bowl or working with companies to bring new jobs to the state – that it’s full of individuals and businesses who are truly welcoming and hospitable.

“Businesses are open for business and want to continue to serve customers in Indiana and throughout the country. That’s the message we are hearing from our members and want to communicate.”

A Valuable Lesson Learned

This summer, I’ll celebrate 15 years with the Chamber.

It was my first job out of college. An early lesson learned was this: No matter how hard you work, there will be days when you can’t complete every task on your to-do list. I’m a perfectionist and my own worst critic, so that was a difficult premise to accept. But I’m glad I did!

Are you tough on yourself at day’s end? Check out this Inc. article, which challenges readers to ask themselves five key questions.

My favorites:

  • What did I get done today that I’m feeling good about?
    Now don’t just give them a cursory glance – actually read through the list of things that you were able to cross off and give yourself a pat on the back for getting them done. This might sound kind of silly, but it is amazing how much better you feel at the end of the day when you acknowledge what you did instead of beating yourself up for what you didn’t do.
  • What am I going to do differently tomorrow?
    As you ponder the things you learned during the day, think also about how you will do things differently tomorrow. This might mean doing more of some things, less of others. It might mean deciding to smile more or be more patient. Or it might mean saying no more often, so that you can actually get more done.

Ball State Communications Program Gets Even Better with Studio Upgrade

CA33pVcU0AACwpVBall State’s reputation for offering top shelf communications curricula is impressive — especially when it comes to sports programming. The school just issued a release on its new Unified Media Lab (UML), and it looks like another state of the art addition to this tremendous program:

Ball State University students are producing a wide range of programing in the newly opened Video News Studio, the final piece of the $4 million Unified Media Lab (UML).

With many of the same features found in the newest professional broadcast studios, the Video News Studio includes green screen technology, animated graphics and other special effects, as well as an audio production booth for radio programming and podcasts.

Ball State President Paul W. Ferguson said the new studio within UML makes the university a national model in the educational experience for future journalists and strategic communicators.

During his recent State of the University address, Ferguson unveiled the Centennial Commitment strategic plan, which includes the three major themes of being student centered, community engaged and a model 21st century public research university. Entrepreneurial learning is a hallmark, built upon such experiences as those available in the Unified Media Lab and nearby facilities.

“This facility will enhance the education of not only journalists but the next generation of communication professionals,” Ferguson said. “Collaboration, problem-solving and critical thinking skills are essential for today’s job market, and this Unified Media Lab provides our students with more opportunities that will make them even more prepared for the ever-changing workplace.”

More than an innovative facility, the UML provides a centralized and immersive newsroom to educate future journalists in solid writing, reporting and storytelling through collaborative, cross-platform media organizations. It offers nearly 50 writing and editing stations for student-run media outlets. There is also a digital news desk to coordinate collaboration and classroom seating for an immersive learning experience.

“This newly completed lab is just part of a combination of integrated course work, sophisticated facilities, engaged faculty and immersive experiences to prepare today’s journalists for competitive and rapidly changing industries,” said Roger Lavery, dean of Ball State’s College of Communication, Information, and Media (CCIM).

Student media operate independently and as cross-platform production teams. There are a printed newspaper, a printed magazine, daily television news programming, a radio station as well as online properties for each of these. The students also provide content for a central news website, Ball State Daily, and an app that offers breaking news, feature stories, commentary and a variety of multimedia content about campus life and surrounding communities.

Adjacent to UML, the Unified Media Advertising Sales and Creative Suite houses a team learning about advertising, sales and how to harness data to grow audiences and drive results. Student sales executives work with real clients, close deals and produce results.

Along the same corridor on the second floor of the Art and Journalism Building, the recently opened Holden Strategic Communications Center fosters a similar collaborative environment for public relations and advertising students. It is the home of two student-run agencies, Cardinal Communications and Adapt, as well as the student chapters of the Public Relations Student Society of America and the American Advertising Federation.

Vanguard National Trailer Corporation: Handcrafted and Growing at Record Pace

aboutusSituated on U.S. Route 421, about 30 miles north of Lafayette, is the town of Monon with a population of approximately 1,800 people. Known for the Monon Food Fest which takes place annually the first Saturday in June, the town is also home to Vanguard National Trailer Corporation, the fastest growing trailer manufacturer in North America.

On St. Patrick’s Day, I had the privilege to travel to Monon to see what goes into making a trailer that ultimately hauls goods all across our great country. I joined up with Vanguard Human Resources Manager Jake Pinkerton, who provided me with the history of the company and what has made it into an industry leader.

After establishing operations in Monon in 2003, the first trailer left the manufacturing line in February 2004. Since that time, Vanguard has implemented innovative processes that streamline operations for more efficient results. With leadership and support from parent company CIMC, Vanguard has continued to grow at an accelerated rate. The company is dedicated to its customers and is committed to advancing the trailer industry one trailer at a time.

Today, Vanguard manufactures approximately 45 trailers per day; they are constructed, quite literally, by the hands of more than 500 Hoosier workers. Very few (if any) parts of the manufacturing process include high-tech machinery. In fact, as you tour the plant, you readily notice the handcrafted care that goes into each customized trailer.

In 2015, Vanguard will manufacture more than 10,000 trailers, a production record for the company.

So next time you travel the highways of Indiana and see the name Vanguard, just know that the hands of fellow Hoosiers made it possible.

To learn more about Vanguard National Trailer Corporation, visit www.vanguardtrailer.com.

FBD to Host M&A Event

FBDLogo_DarkBlue_RGBIf mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are your game, Faegre Baker Daniels has an event you won’t want to miss.

The firm will conduct its third annual Indianapolis M&A conference on June 11 at the JW Marriott. The half-day event, with a post-reception, has featured powerful speaker lineups in its first two years.

Specific agenda topics will be released in April. Additional details are available.

 

Adding Up the School Choice Numbers

ed choiceThe Indianapolis-based Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice is a national leader in its industry. It has published a Field Guide for 2015, providing an overview of the current status and expected developments.

Among the highlights:

  • 51 school choice programs in 24 states and Washington, D.C.
  • 23 voucher programs in 13 states and D.C.
  • 18 tax credit scholarship programs in 14 states
  • 8 individual tax credit/deduction programs in 7 states
  • 2 education savings account programs

Check out a state-by-state map on pages 4-5.

Friedman also breaks down gubernatorial support for school choice:

  • Governors a Go: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin
  • Governors a No: Connecticut, Delaware, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Virginia, Wahington

Engineering and Business: Collaboration in Education

Brooks G 3047_head_shotThis post from Earl D. Brooks II, Ph.D., president of Trine University and member of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce board of directors, originally appeared in Inside INdiana Business.

The rapidly changing economic environment illustrates the importance of universities to provide both engineering and business programs with innovative curriculum. Such programs are essential because these students will be responsible for engineering, technology and business initiatives in the 21st century.

With that in mind, Trine University has created the College of Engineering and Business to focus on fast-changing economic needs while harnessing opportunities that exist and providing broader educational options.

It is imperative universities respond to circumstances within the contemporary climate of education. More high school graduates are entering college with college credits already earned, requiring universities to develop nontraditional options. While this can reduce student debt, we think universities should also strive to offer creative and unique curriculum to provide an even broader education. At Trine, students bringing credits can earn a bachelor degree in just three years, or opt to earn a bachelor degree and a master degree in four years in the 3 + 1 program.

Trine created three-year bachelor programs and went a step further to offer a one-year master’s degree program for both engineering and business students who choose to enter the 3 + 1 program. These students may earn a bachelor degree in any engineering major in three years and earn a Master of Science in Engineering Management (MSEM) in one year. Business concepts are the nucleus of the MSEM curriculum.

In comparison, students may earn a bachelor degree in any business major in three years and a Master of Business Administration in one year. The MBA curriculum includes engineering fundamentals. Both programs promote the cross-education model of preparing business and engineering students to collaborate and understand each other’s responsibilities for the success of the companies they serve.

Employers tell us there is a gap in the educations of engineering and business students entering the workforce. By responding to this concern, universities can better prepare their students for successful careers.

Engineers are excellent at developing devices and creating technology to advance their employers’ products and/or services, but often they are not equally adept at understanding business processes. Changes in the economic environment demand engineers possess business skills too. Engineering professionals of tomorrow must be self-sufficient business units, regardless of their position. The blending of engineering and business studies should foster this vision.

Traditionally, universities teach engineering knowledge and skills around manufacturing, technology support and product design. In Trine’s College of Engineering and Business, we teach these methods with the additional curriculum to build entrepreneurial skills crucial to develop economically relevant opportunities for business and technology. For example, engineering students of all disciplines can minor in business, preparing them for roles in engineering management, cost accounting, resource acquisition and leveraging, and financial risk management.

Similarly, business students must understand how engineering operations work and how successful engineering and technology companies operate. The curriculum for business students is enhanced by engineering-based courses on innovation, technology planning, development processes and patents. They must also understand the engineers’ perspective along with their problem-solving process and technical limitations they encounter. Businesses cannot sell goods engineers cannot produce and engineers should not produce goods businesses cannot sell.

Universities with a business school model that embraces the entrepreneurial spirit can promote initiatives and experiences to benefit business and engineering students. In Trine’s case, the Rhoads Center for Entrepreneurship along with Innovation One, an innovative service delivery framework within Trine, give business and engineering students the ability to work and learn together. Students team in a collaborative, hands-on environment to develop ideas and concepts along with business plans and more through private-sector projects secured by Innovation One.

Forging relationships between higher education and business and industry benefits students and employers. Such partnerships pave the way for internships, cooperative education and full-time employment. These opportunities enhance experiential learning, raise awareness of employers’ needs and expectations, and expand employment options for graduates.

Keeping pace with today’s fast-moving technologies and economy is the primary motivator in combining engineering and business studies. It is the educator’s responsibility to use a holistic approach to prepare students to be career-ready so they can make an immediate impact.

Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives

allison_barber_headshotThe following post by WGU Indiana Chancellor Allison Barber was originally published on the WGU Indiana blog in recognition of Women’s History Month. 

The story I can weave about some amazing women took place in one day. March 11, 2015, began by sharing a donut with my great-aunt who was celebrating her 92nd birthday. She declared that eating a donut while lounging in bed was the best way to start her new year.

Nell was a school secretary for 40 years, a church musician for 55 years and the person in our family most likely to have been on the Vaudeville stage, had the timing been right.

After donuts with Nell, I visited my mom. A wonderful schoolteacher who spends her life investing in other people’s success, one person at a time. She is a believer in people and their individual ability.

From there, I jumped on a plane to Washington, D.C. I visited my dear friend, Vivian, who, at 96, is triumphantly fighting back from pneumonia and shingles. Our conversation was about her deep concern and prayers for other people and her need for an updated iPhone.

Then I headed to an AARP event where I learned about Dr. Ethel Andrus. Ethel was a teacher who became the first female principal in California and then went on to form the National Retired Teachers Association. Her goal was to promote her philosophy of productive aging. At the age of 73, she formed AARP. Dr. Andrus lived by the following guiding principles:

  • To promote independence, dignity and purpose for older persons;
  • To enhance the quality of life for older persons; and
  • To encourage older people “To serve, not to be served.”

My day was shaping up to be an amazing one filled with diverse and fascinating women, but there was still more to come.

The main purpose of the event was the presentation of the Andrus Award to Senator Elizabeth Dole for her work in establishing her foundation that addresses the issues of military caregivers.

Elizabeth has held two cabinet-level positions, served as the president of the American Red Cross, and was elected Senator from North Carolina. She has built her career through service and is a shining example of Dr. Andrus’ philosophy, “To serve and not to be served.”

Jo Ann Jenkins, the CEO of AARP, introduced Elizabeth. Prior to the post at AARP, Jo Ann accomplished groundbreaking work as the COO of the Library of Congress. She is the recipient of Women in Technology Leadership Award, the Library of Congress Distinguished Service Award and Nonprofit Times’ Power and Influence Top 50. In her remarks, she challenged the audience to recognize the dignity in all humans. She is focused on helping people “age without fear.”

And finally, I closed out the day (yes, this is still the same day), with my pal, Susan Davis. The CEO of her own public affairs business in D.C., Susan also serves as the chairman of the board of Vital Voices. A nonprofit organization that identifies invests and brings visibility to extraordinary women around the world by unleashing their leadership potential to transform lives and accelerate peace and prosperity in their communities. Susan works tirelessly to improve the lives of everyone she encounters.

What are the common threads that allow me to “weave together the story” of these women? Passion, Purpose and Priorities. The careers range from high to low visibility, and the notoriety ranges from international acclaim to a family’s favorite aunt to sit by at the dinner table. But each woman demonstrates a passion for what they believe in, a purpose for their work, and the priority of putting others before themselves.

It was a great day to encounter wonderful women and weave together their diverse but powerful stories.

March Madness: Is It Really Fouling Up Productivity?

9819223Thankfully, our beloved Hoosier state is rejoicing as we’ve placed five colleges into the Big Dance!

But with much attention this week now devoted toward brackets and sneaking in an online stream of a game, are Indiana employers paying the price?

Fortune cites stats from Challenger, Gray & Christmas indicating that a staggering 60 million Americans will be solely focused on tourney games later this week. And it could be costing employers up to $1.9 billion in wages.

That does sound like a big ol’ negative. But the executives quoted in the article report they’re not too concerned about it. So is it possible we should all just relax on the “it hurts productivity” argument and simply enjoy the experience?

Sports broadcaster and Talk Sporty to Me founder Jen Mueller says claims of lost productivity are overblown because the brackets increase camaraderie and conversation within the office. She contends that actually boosts your bottom line in the long run. (Frankly, this Indiana University alum likes the way she thinks.) See her reasoning below: