Indiana Chamber Comments on SaaS Tax Clarity Bill Signed Into Law Today

Bill Waltz, Indiana Chamber of Commerce vice president of taxation and public finance, comments on Senate Bill 257 being signed into law, providing clarity on the tax exempt status for software-as-a-service (SaaS) transactions:

“Since last summer, the Indiana Chamber has been leading the charge to see this clarification become law, with language originating in our tech policy committee. Our advocacy team and several members of the committee met with all the interested parties to build momentum and consensus. We put a lot of work into the effort because the stakes were high. The state’s significant momentum as an attractive place for innovative and entrepreneurial companies was in jeopardy without a sensible solution.

“And this policy is important not just for tech companies, but for those who do business with them. The new law is straightforward on what transactions are exempt. Having clarity around that will help grow Indiana’s software development economy, as well as prevent onerous taxation of other necessary business expenses throughout the business community.

“We thank Governor Holcomb for his leadership and legislators for listening to our members and taking this important step forward to further demonstrate Indiana’s technology commitment. The state is now in a very favorable position to reap very real economic benefits and attract more and more of the software-as-a-service industry.”

Sen. Travis Holdman, author of SB 257 (left) and the Chamber’s Bill Waltz 

Cheers to the Network Security Administrators

Here’s a little tip – don’t check your work email on your mobile phone while riding in an airport shuttle on the way back to your car from vacation.

Don’t quickly open any emails saying you had a recent sign-in attempt and need to remedy your information.

Don’t click the link! DON’T do it.

I did it.

Yep, it was me. The person who studied and learned about fraud, email phishing, social engineering (and a lot of other terrifying cybersecurity issues) for a 1,200-plus word story for BizVoice® magazine last year. The person who has warned everyone about these issues since learning all those terrifying things. The one who pays close attention when data breaches are discussed in the media.

It was me. I did it. Ugh.

Thankfully, I realized what I’d done nearly immediately. I clicked on the link, but I didn’t enter any information and I quickly alerted our network guardian angel administrator, Jeff. Then I panicked all the way home from my relaxing vacation.

But Jeff let me know he was keeping an eye on it, and that I hadn’t broken everything (I was sure I had). Such a relief I have rarely felt in my adult life.

After a self-admonishing mea culpa when I returned to the office, I was again put at ease upon being reminded that this happens more regularly than I realized and that it’s a very easy thing to fall for.

That is NOT an excuse for complacency, of course. Think before you click! Make sure you know your company’s security protocols, think critically about the email address the email is coming from (does your security administrator typically handle anything related to Microsoft? Then Microsoft is probably not emailing you directly!). Just pay attention.

I was reminded firsthand that our information technology and network security administrators are on the front lines of keeping our dumb mistakes at bay.

Thank goodness for that.

If you’ve got a great networking security team supporting your workplace, thank them when you get the chance. You probably don’t always know or understand what they do, but when things get dicey, you’ll really appreciate their expertise.

(If you don’t have a network security team, you’re risking a lot. Check out that BizVoice story I mentioned above for more about the pitfalls of not being covered by good security measures.)

Wrap-up: 2018 Indiana Safety and Health Conference

If you attended last week’s 2018 Indiana Safety and Health Conference & Expo, you most certainly came away with enhanced knowledge, new industry connections and the determination to make your workplace a safer and healthier one.

The largest safety and health conference in the state provided over 70 education sessions, leading industry speakers and access to more than 100 exhibitors and safety vendors over the course of three days in downtown Indianapolis.

The conference was sponsored by Gibson and presented by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and the Central Indiana Chapter of American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), in partnership with INSafe and the Coalition for Construction Safety (CCS).

Kina Repp, keynote speaker for the opening general session (“It’s Your Safety, Don’t Give It Away”), shared her story of lessons learned from losing her arm to a moving conveyor belt 40 minutes into her job at a fish processing plant. She spent two months in the hospital and endured 11 surgeries.

At the time, Repp knew what she was doing was not safe. Today, she describes the ripple effect – the impact the accident had on her family, co-workers, supervisors and more.

“I made choices that day that hurt all those people,” she told the hushed conference attendees before posing two questions: “Whose life are you willing to change? What is it that you’re willing to trade your safety for?

Life – and safety – come down to choices, Repp attests. In looking back at her decision to take advantage of her second chance, while at the same time offering guidance to others in determining their safety outcomes, she relies on a Henry Ford quote: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”

March 14 keynote speaker Sgt. Sammy L. Davis delivered a poignant recollection of the Vietnam War. A powerful philosophy guided him during the battle that won him a Congressional Medal of Honor: “If I don’t do my job, the guys behind me don’t stand a chance.”

Davis’ actions on November 18, 1967, inspired the wartime service depicted in Forrest Gump, including his citation ceremony with actor Tom Hank’s head added on top of Davis’s via computer-generated imagery. Last week, Davis was bestowed Indiana’s highest honor, the Sachem Award.

The Governor’s Workplace Safety Awards were presented to organizations and individuals that have made health and safety a priority. Find the press release with a list of winners here.

See photos from the awards luncheon and the conference here.

Ice Miller is the conference’s platinum sponsor. Gold sponsors are Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP); Community Employer Health; and RMS-Safety. Silver sponsors are Athletico Physical Therapy; CLMI Safety Training; Faztek, LLC; Indiana Safety & Supply; Indiana University School of Public Health Safety Program; KHA Online SDS™; Safety Management Group; and Sentry Safety Services, Inc.

The dates are already set for the 2019 Indiana Safety and Health Conference & Expo! Mark your calendars for February 26-28, 2019 at the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis.













Find conference materials and more at

Tech Talk: McDonald Lights Economic Fire

John McDonald, CEO of ClearObject and chair of the Indiana Chamber’s Tech Policy Committee, is proficient in many areas – including crafting analogies.

In the current BizVoice® magazine, he authors a thoughtful column titled “Indiana’s Economy: Great for Business, Not Yet for Entrepreneurs.” On the analogy side, consider this excerpt:

“If the spark that ignites an entrepreneurial company is initiative, then what are the other necessary components that fuel the fire of innovation? Like we learned in elementary school, fire requires fuel, oxygen and heat, and if any of these elements is removed, the fire stops.

“Similarly, entrepreneurship requires three elements: ideas, capital and skilled people, with the spark of initiative to light the flame. Take any of these away and the fire of an entrepreneurial company ‘flames out.’ “

Check out John’s full column.

The focus of the March-April issue is on Outstanding Talent. Nearly 20 stories outline programs, initiatives and people making a difference in the worlds of education and workforce development. Among the features:

  • The Excel Center, where adults gain the assistance and pair it with their own motivation to reach new heights in education and career opportunities
  • The Crossing Schools, where high school students in need of direction find it in the form of hands-on learning and work experiences
  • The International School of Indiana, where a challenging curriculum is only part of the mix for high-performing students

The Indiana Chamber is highlighted through the Foundation’s Business Champions Advisory Network, Indiana INTERNnet’s 12th annual IMPACT Award winners and an overview of the organization’s workforce development efforts.

View the full issue.

Celebrating Failure or Something Else?

Kris Taylor focuses on change and change leadership in her coaching/consulting practice. In a recent writing, she questions the “celebrating failure” message. Or maybe it’s the wording used. Decide for yourself. The full post includes additional information on organizational behaviors to remove and embrace.

Face it: Failure stinks. No one I know likes it. And even the most successful and creative people I know, don’t celebrate things that turned out poorly.

Yet a mantra that has emerged in the last five years is to “celebrate” failure. Really? Celebrate?


While I get, on some level, the reasoning to encourage people to take a risk and actually “do something” or to even possibly do “something big” – the notion of celebrating failure is not, what I believe, is in anyone’s best interest.

Working in and with organizations, I fully recognize the great extents to which people will take to avoid looking “less than” or “foolish” or “incapable”. I also fully recognize the games that are played (some with intention and some unconsciously) to garner the coveted raise or promotion and at times, survive the latest reorganization.

Anything “less than” often is hidden, buried, ignored or rationalized away. I’ve seen multi-million projects that were abject failures be allowed to linger on, all to avoid embarrassment. I’ve seen amazing amounts of money, time and effort be put into a failing project in an attempt to prop it enough to get it over the finish line, only to declare “done” and then allow it to wither away.

And so, let’s celebrate creativity and contributing new ideas. Let’s celebrate experimentation, observation and rapid learning. Let’s celebrate bold steps forward into the ambiguous unknown future. Let’s celebrate persistence and pivots and progress.

And when we fail, we celebrate picking ourselves up, reflecting on what happened, and starting anew – smarter, more resilient and more likely to succeed this time around.

Developing the Entrepreneurial System – Here and There


A professor from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business is writing from his home state’s perspective, but sharing insights regarding Midwest entrepreneurial ecosystems and how they might differ from international efforts. He notes four key elements, including the always popular capital and worker skill aspects:

  1. The most important step is connecting with your customer

While understanding the basic fundamentals of cash flow and knowing how to manage a staff is important, businesses everywhere must put finding the customer first if they want to be successful. For Midwestern businesses, that might be a challenge for marketing. For startups in some developing economies, the search can be less abstract: Infrastructure challenges can make connecting with customers more difficult. For example, in Vietnam, the single biggest platform for ecommerce is Facebook — but in rural Morocco, a lack of infrastructure makes ecommerce virtually impossible. Interpersonal connections and marketplaces remain indispensable.

  1. Success begets success

In the United States, the story of every successful startup cluster begins with capital — and one of the best sources of capital is another company’s exit. We’ve also seen that for every $1 a Michigan startup receives from a Michigan VC firm, it attracts $4.61 of investment from outside of Michigan. Cash is the fertilizer, and the more of it in the environment, then the more likely the economy will grow.

This logic doesn’t always hold in developing economies, one of the hallmarks of which is no middle class and a huge income disparity. When wealth is created in these environments, there are many places that the money can be reinvested in besides another startup: to fund education, for example, or to buy more land. That being said, more wealth generated by new venture activity has the potential to lift the income threshold and lead to a more stable, flourishing economy. 

  1. Give your talent the fulfillment they need

A major challenge for small communities is talent, no matter where they are located. But talent isn’t just about having smart people — it’s about having people with the skills needed to build a business, and a community that can support them. In the Midwest, that talent gap often takes the form of local workers who are educated, well-trained, and experienced in running a business, but who might not choose to stay and work in their communities if there aren’t opportunities that appeal to them.

Robust entrepreneurial ecosystems with more activity have the potential to attract top talent away from more metropolitan areas. It can become a self-sustaining cycle once it gets going, but may take a significant event or local unicorn to get it kicked into action. In developing countries, that more often looks like workers who have limited skills, who need the determination and resources to invest in themselves — and who need an ecosystem that can provide them with that base.

  1. Take local differences into account

What works in Silicon Valley doesn’t always work in Chicago — and what works in Kosovo might not work in Vietnam. When it comes to translating what has worked in one place to another, the details become local, and critical. Some business climates trust banks and credit lines; others operate solely in cash. In some places, the local language is widely spoken; in others, that local language could be six different dialects. Just as the National Venture Capital Association has local chapters to better understand and focus on the small ecosystems being built all over the United States, context is everything for entrepreneurs looking to get off the ground no matter where they are.

While languages, customs, and currency differ from country to country, one thing doesn’t: When entrepreneurs and innovation win, it can lift the outlook of an entire economy. With the right resources and support, the Midwest has stepped up to create the jobs and standing it needs to survive in the modern economy — and developing ecosystems around the world are doing the same.

An Overhaul of High School Policies

What do we do to help our K-12 education system function at a higher level? There is no shortage of suggestions or recommendations.

Michael Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, is one of the more authoritative voices in this area. An excerpt from a recent column focuses on turning the system upside down. Currently, he writes:

“We have a system whereby millions of teenagers sleepwalk through so-called college-prep classes, graduate (sometimes without earning it), get pushed into college (often into remedial courses), and quickly drop out. It’s “bachelor’s degree or bust,” and for the majority of kids, the result is bust.

So what might work better? Twelve years ago, the Tough Choices or Tough Times report made an intriguing set of recommendations that would make the American system more like those in Europe. It’s time to dust it off again. Here’s my spin on them.

  1. In ninth or tenth grade, all students should sit for a set of gateway exams. Think of them as high school “entrance exams” rather than “exit exams.” They would assess pupils on reading, writing, math, science, history, and civics – the essential content and skills that all students should be expected to know to be engaged and educated citizens. There would also be a component assessing students’ career interests and aptitudes as best as these can be gauged for fifteen-year-olds.
  2. Students who pass the exams would then choose among several programs for the remainder of their high school years – programs that all could take place under the same roof. Some would be traditional “college-prep,” with lots of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or dual-enrollment courses. Others would be high quality career and technical education offerings designed to lead directly into degree or certificate programs at a technical college. All of the programs could set entrance requirements that ensure that students are ready to succeed in them. And their selectivity would make them prestigious and appealing to a wide range of students. At the end of high school, students would graduate with special designations on their diplomas indicating that they are ready for postsecondary education or training without the need for remediation.
  3. Students who don’t pass the exams would enter developmental programs specifically designed to help them catch up and pass the tests on their second or third (or fourth or fifth) tries. Those that catch up quickly can join their peers in the college-prep or CTE programs.

It’s a lot to tackle. It’s harder than just chastising teachers and principals who graduate kids who can’t read or do math. But in my view, its time has come. Perhaps one of the men or women running for governor this year would like to give it a try.


U of Indy Unveils Enhanced Digital Mayoral Archives


History is fascinating.

When we moved my grandmother to a long-term care facility several years ago, our family was sorting through some of the boxes of keepsakes she had stored in her garage, including items from her childhood.

At the time, I had a young daughter and came across a pamphlet of advice for new parents from the 1950s. It was shocking to see the words of wisdom I was being given today versus the advice of even recent history. Later, we found cookbooks from the 1960s and 1970s containing recipes filled with way too many Jello and cream cheese combinations. Yuck. But fascinating!

If you’re a student of history – or even have a passing interest in learning about those who came before us – here’s something you’ll love: the University of Indianapolis recently unveiled a digital tool that enables anyone to access information about Indianapolis civic history.

The “Digital Backpacks” collection is a free, interactive feature where users can create folders with items collected during the administrations of Indianapolis mayors back to 1968, including an emphasis on sports history.

“The Digital Mayoral Archives enhances the University’s ability to extend its reach beyond the campus,” said Institute Director Edward Frantz. “By connecting to the history of our city, University students also are able to comprehend the way in which the past interacts with the present.”

”We believe this will become a significant teaching tool in Indiana and an important resource for political scholars and armchair historians around the world,” added Frantz, a history professor at the University of Indianapolis.

The backpacks feature is an enhancement to the Digital Mayoral Archives created as part of an ongoing partnership with digital history leader HistoryIT, a Maine-based company that leverages technology to improve access to historical archives. In 2013, HistoryIT began the process of digitizing more than 600 file boxes full of documents, images, recordings and other artifacts from the administrations of Indianapolis mayors Richard Lugar, William Hudnut and Stephen Goldsmith, and from the records of Indiana politician L. Keith Bulen.

Today, more than 400,000 items, including previously confidential documents, are available online. Nearly 23,000 users have logged on and searched the Digital Mayoral Archives.

#BizVoiceExtra: Tuition Support Makes a Difference

Balancing work, family and life is challenging – throwing in a full-time, or even part-time, education on top can seem near impossible.

One thing that can ease the struggle of pursuing a degree as a working adult? Employer tuition support.

Employers that provide tuition support are making a long-term investment in their employees, and employees take that investment to heart. I learned that recently when speaking with several people for the March/April edition of BizVoice® about their experiences with tuition support and the benefits of attaining those advanced degrees through WGU Indiana.

(You can read that story in our new edition here.)

All of those interviewed couldn’t speak more highly of the impact of knowing their employer is actively supporting them. The return on investment for those companies yields people that are devoted to the organization, on top of the more tangible benefits of skilled and educated employees.

Dan Minnick

Dan Minnick

One of the WGU Indiana graduates featured in the story is Dan Minnick, a nursing professional development educator at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie. I asked representatives from IU Health to provide more information on their tuition support program.

An abridged Q&A via email with Lauren Zink, vice president of Total Rewards and Shared Services at IU Health, follows:

BV: What is the benefit to IU Health as an employer when its team members have finished their degrees or have completed advanced degrees?

LZ: “Our goal at IU Health is to provide long-term career opportunities for our team members. We have a wide variety of jobs and a continuous need to fill them with dedicated, talented individuals. As our team members obtain the education they need to qualify and apply for new positions, it allows IU Health to retain them as valued team members and provides them with the opportunities to advance their careers. This mutually beneficial partnership leads to stronger employee engagement and retention, and that too is a very important priority at IU Health.”

BV: What would you say to employers who aren’t currently supporting team members with tuition support? How has this been beneficial for your organization?

LZ: “We understand that most organizations have many competing priorities and limited dollars to invest. However, the return on this investment is one that can be tracked and measured, and has a significant positive impact on the culture. When we invest in our most valuable asset, our people, we build a sustainable workforce that can grow with the organization. It also sends a very positive message to job seekers that their ongoing career development will be a priority at IU Health.”

BV: What do you tell your team members who aren’t sure if they want to go back to school?

LZ: “Education requires a time, energy and resource commitment. Only an individual can truly discern if they are ready to embark on this journey, and if they are, we are there to support them.”

Victory! Software-as-a-Service Bill Set to Become Law

This week, the Senate unanimously approved the House changes to Senate Bill 257 (Sales Tax on Software). This bill began as a top Indiana Chamber goal; it was embraced by the administration and made a priority of the Governor, the Senate got it introduced and rolling, then the House took good legislation and made it even better.

The Senate concurrence vote means the bill is on its way to Gov. Holcomb and there will be SaaS (software as a service) tax clarity in Indiana!

This is exactly what the Indiana Chamber has been working toward since last summer and it is good news for the SaaS industry. Senate Bill 257 is a straightforward piece of legislation that can reap very real economic benefits for the state. We thank legislators for listening to our members and taking this important step forward to demonstrate Indiana’s commitment to embracing the growth of the SaaS industry. The legislation puts Indiana in a very favorable position to attract more and more of this burgeoning business to our state.