Chamber Staff Comings and Goings

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce is just a few years away from celebrating 100 years (the organization was founded in 1922). Over nearly a century, there have been countless staff changes and evolutions to help move the organization forward.

Janet Boston

Today, we say “thank you and farewell” to Janet Boston, who is retiring as executive director of the Indiana INTERNnet program, which is managed by the Indiana Chamber. Boston has been in the role for seven years and caps off an outstanding career in both the non-profit and for-profit sectors. Read more about Boston’s impact with the organization here. The Indiana Chamber and Indiana INTERNnet Board sent Boston out in style – with a luncheon and office celebration, and presented her with a custom necklace in appreciation of her taking the program to new heights.

Mark Lawrance, who has most recently been advocating in the economic development and technology areas, will replace Boston as interim executive director of Indiana INTERNnet, starting June 1. Lawrance will be retiring later this year and is expected to stay in the interim role until the fall.

Additionally, as previously announced, the Indiana Chamber has partnered with the Wellness Council of Indiana and Gov. Eric Holcomb’s administration to help combat the state’s opioid epidemic. The new Indiana Workforce Recovery initiative is a joint effort among the groups and is led by Jennifer Pferrer, executive director of the Wellness Council. The initiative provides employers with resources and guidance on how to help their employees who are impacted by the opioid epidemic. Allyson Blandford has come on board at the Wellness Council to support the initiative as project manager.

Also at the Wellness Council, Madie Newman has joined as program coordinator for the Indiana Healthy Communities initiative. The role has been created to support the organization in helping communities coordinate wellness efforts, ensuring healthier citizens and acting as a draw for economic development opportunities.

Abbi Espe rounds out our membership team. She was hired this spring as the manager of member services for northeastern Indiana and will focus on bringing new companies into the fold.

On the education front, the grant-funded college and career readiness position, held by Shelley Huffman, ends today. Lobbyist Caryl Auslander, who handled education and workforce matters, has left for new endeavors.

Greg Ellis, vice president of energy and environmental policy, is now responsible for federal lobbying. Members of the Indiana Chamber’s advocacy team are assuming Auslander and Lawrance’s other policy committee duties on a temporary basis until new staff is hired later this summer.

We wish everyone well and good luck in their future activities and look forward to the contributions of our new team members to continue the important work and mission of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce in “cultivating a world-class environment which provides economic opportunity and prosperity for the people of Indiana and their enterprises.”

For our complete staff listing, visit the web site at: https://www.indianachamber.com/about/staff-listing/

VIDEO: ‘Paris is Only the Beginning’

Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar comments on the enhanced connectivity to and from Indianapolis thanks to an increasing number of direct flights from the Indianapolis International Airport. Those locations include the west coast and, of course, the city’s first international direct flight to Paris, France, which had its inaugural flight May 25. Watch:

 

 

Taking a Wellness Inventory

Many organizations attempt to execute an operating plan for workplace wellness without the knowledge of what they even have to offer. There is no need to build duplicate programs or commit limited resources to something that already is working well!

Take inventory of your current workplace wellness programs to help educate you and your champions about what is already occurring. Look for programs that are both employer-sponsored and more “grassroots” programs that have developed organically and informally. Consider any policies (i.e. smoke-free campus) or environmental characteristics (i.e. safe/accessible stairways) that promote overall well-being.

Once you have a good understanding of the programs, efforts and resources your workplace already has, reflect on the following questions:

  • What has made these programs successful?
  • What can we learn so we can build on their success?
  • How do we keep momentum going?
  • How will we evaluate improvements?

Spend the time to supplement other programs that support your wellness mission – and focus more on initiatives that go beyond physical wellness. Consider career development programs, financial wellness, support for a community project and simply creating a way to get to know fellow employees in a more social way. Inventories should take place at least once a year.

One of the key AchieveWELL steps to managing a successful initiative is creating a supportive environment. Knowing your inventory and keeping up to date on that inventory is a critical success factor. Use the Wellness Inventory developed by the Wellness Council of Indiana to make certain you are promoting everything that is already occurring at work.

Lipstick on a Pig: Office Perks Won’t Build Your Company’s Culture

By Matthew Crissman

As I’m writing this, I’m sitting in the Onebridge break room with my colleagues enjoying a beer. After nearly 3 years here, it’s still an unusual feeling: I distinctly remember teachers and professors stressing about the importance of being professional. I was instructed on multiple occasions to polish my online presence as well: don’t post any photos that even suggest that I was consuming alcohol (no Red Solo Cups!). It’s all still a bit surreal.

I love giving tours of the Indianapolis office. Rounding the corner on the Northwest stretch of I-465 in Indianapolis where I-465N becomes I-465E, there is a normal office building adorned with an aquamarine sign displaying the Onebridge logo. Most people imagine it’s filled with offices and a cubical farm, a traditional office. Once inside, there’s suddenly a look of astonishment on their face as they see what is contained within the unassuming edifice. As we progress through the building and I point out the treadmill desks, gym, waterfall garden, snack wall, collaboration areas, games, industrial-size beer fridge and more, most people go speechless with incredulity. On more than one occasion, I’ve been met with the phrase, “I can’t believe you guys manage to get any work done!”

Onebridge provides a lot of perks; More importantly, we’ve built a phenomenal culture. They’re not the one in the same.

I read a lot of articles telling business leaders how to attract and retain top talent. I also read many more focusing on strategies to attract millennials. Each new article proposes a new variation of the same old strategies with a slight twist to create a new façade. Many businesses make sweeping generalizations about vaguely-defined demographics in the hopes of attracting top talent and the up-and-coming millennials which, by the way, aren’t even a real thingCompanies are competing to build the coolest offices with the most features in the hopes of attracting the best of the best. If GoogleApple and Epic are doing it, shouldn’t we? Sure, if you like burning money.

Don’t get me wrong. I, like most, love free snacks and an onsite gym. On more than one occasion, I’ve forgotten my lunch and fell back on some mixed nuts and goldfish crackers to tide me over until dinner. But these aren’t the reason I choose to work with Onebridge. You could fill a building with the latest and greatest technology, build video-game themed rooms, cater lunch every day, and even host an office puppy party, because perks and culture are not the same thing. I’m glad Onebridge provided the drink in my hand, but more importantly, I love that Onebridge trusts that I’ll drink responsibly and still perform at an exceptional level.

Great office perks should be the symptoms of a great company culture; they can’t be the cause. To build a great culture, leaders need to treat people like people and provide them with what they want and the tools they need for success. I would argue that most everyone wants the same basic thing: to be treated like adults who are smart and worthy of respect. We seek meaning and autonomy in our work, and we want to be compensated well. If you want to add an Xbox to your break room, go for it. But without addressing the underlying culture, you’re just putting lipstick on a pig.

The culture at Onebridge is built on our Core Values: Service, Mindfulness, Appreciation, Results and Trust. This is instilled and exemplified from the top down and from the bottom up. It is because of this permeating culture that people choose to work with us, and we’re able to bring in top-performers and continually grow, enabling us to provide so many great perks. A good litmus test to evaluate a company’s culture is to ask: If the company eliminated all its perks today, would employees still want to come to work tomorrow?

I, unequivocally, would; Instead of trying to appeal to me as a millennial, Onebridge appeals to me as a person.

What makes your company a great place to work?

About the Author
Matthew Crissman is a Senior Recruiter at Onebridge who aims to solve the pain that businesses feel when their teams are missing key IT expertise by connecting organizations with candidates that are a fit both technically and culturally. He doesn’t want to just put a body in a seat. Through a consultative approach, he aims to provide industry expertise regarding the IT Labor Market and connect organizations with the best talent to solve business-critical problems.

BizVoice Earns Four Awards in State Competition

We don’t do our jobs just to be given a pat on the back, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a little recognition for hard work. The Indiana Chamber’s communications team recently earned accolades, in the form of four awards for work completed in 2017, from the Indiana Society of Professional Journalists.

The staff of the Indiana Chamber’s bimonthly business magazine, BizVoice®, brought home three second-place awards and a third-place award in the annual statewide competition, highlighting the best and brightest of Indiana journalism.

Stories and writers earning awards include:

Congratulations to Tom, Rebecca, Symone, Charlee and Matt, along with BizVoice Creative Director Tony Spataro and all of our other contributors to the Indiana Chamber’s award-winning magazine, which is in its 20th year of publication.

We’re also launching a new look to the BizVoice web site this Thursday evening with the debut of our May-June 2018 edition, following the conclusion of the Best Places to Work in Indiana celebration event. Make sure you check out the great content and our new web site later this week!

Walorski Shares Feedback From Hoosier Businesses Impacted by Tariffs at Ways and Means Hearing

Last week, Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (IN-02) shared feedback from Hoosier businesses affected by steel and aluminum tariffs at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on the impact of tariffs on the U.S. economy and jobs.

“Historic tax cuts and regulatory reforms have revived America’s economy, but I am constantly hearing from businesses in northern Indiana that steel and aluminum tariffs are driving up costs and making it more difficult for them to grow and create jobs,” Walorski said after the hearing.

“The administration has taken steps to narrow these tariffs to better target unfair trade, but more must be done to protect businesses and jobs here at home. I will continue listening to Hoosier manufacturers, farmers and workers, and making sure their voices are heard so we can keep our economic momentum going.”

Video of Walorski sharing local businesses’ feedback at the hearing:

She read the following quotes from Hoosier job creators in a wide range of industries:

• (We’ve seen) a 50% increase (in the price of steel), mostly since the tariffs were announced. Additionally, there is a shortage of steel. We are furloughing the production line in (one facility) today and will probably have to furlough some of the guys in (our main facility) later in the week due to lack of availability of material. We have raised prices to our customers but because (our product is) a low margin item – the combination of the increase and the lack of availability is affecting sales.”

• “We cannot switch to a U.S. source, and it would take 1 to 2 years for us to get approval from our customers if there was a U.S. source. We will continue to import steel and will pay the duties. So far we have incurred about $15,000 in tariff costs with a potential of another $240,000 based upon the orders we have already booked with (our) Japanese steel supplier. We are moving forward with our exclusion requests; so far the cost has been close to 100 hours to complete these exemption forms along with some legal costs for review and advice.”

• “We have rolling shortages of steel and we are on allocation (from our supplier in Utah) … Prices had already gone up 25% and 30% respectively (on aluminum and steel) because of speculation. Now we are seeing a trend past 30-35% each. Of course, I am livid.”

• “We observed steel prices starting to move up in early 2017 on just the talk of potential steel tariffs and a sharp escalation in steel prices in the last 3 months as the tariffs started to become a reality. This has resulted in a 15% to 29% increase in the cost of our steel. To put this in perspective, our increase in steel cost is larger than the entire cost of providing health insurance to our workforce.”

• “We are the sole manufacturer left in the United States that manufactures this type of product. Our competitors import all or most of their finished product from either Mexico, China, Vietnam, etc., therefore avoiding any impact of this tariff…The bottom line is this, if you raise our steel and aluminum prices, our prices will have to increase in order to cover the cost. Our foreign competitors will not be affected. … We currently purchase all our steel and aluminum from domestic sources.”

• “We are in the process of trying to build a 147,000-square-foot warehouse. (The company building the warehouse) gets their steel from Canada, a country exempted from the steel tariff. However, we are unable to get a firm quote even out of Canada, because prices are beginning to rise there with so much demand shifted to Canada. It is not on hold – we have to build it – so we are at the mercy of a volatile market.”

• “When purchasing raw materials, we give preference to domestic steel mills wherever possible. We enjoy long, outstanding relationships with many domestic mills. We want them to thrive. … The actual dynamics of the entire metalworking market have evolved in the last 40 years. … In some cases, we find that domestic mills cannot meet the quality standards required by our customers; or they cannot meet the quality standards at a competitive cost. In those cases, we will buy foreign material. … Why put a tariff on these items?”

Tech Talk: Special Locations; Special Outcomes

Yes, we understand technology allows business processes to take place today that were never possible before. Yes, we know that people – no doubt about it – are the most important asset in any organization.

But location still plays a factor. And location is a central theme to two recent EchoChamber conversations. The guests: Rich Carlton of Data Realty in South Bend (where tech is thriving on the site of the former auto manufacturing giant Studebaker) and John Hurley of SmartFile and the Union 525 (the scale-up home in Indianapolis that is becoming the centerpiece of innovation and activity).

A few nuggets from each are below. But we encourage you to check out their full conversations.

Carlton

  • Data Realty family of companies is making 40 million calculations a day on data coming in from around the world
  • Talent from Stanford, MIT, Carnegie-Mellon and more now calling South Bend region home
  • Goals include becoming the first company out of South Bend to be valued at $1 billion
  • “If South Bend was a stock, I’d be buying. We’re in the infancy of what we’re going to be able to do.”

Hurley

  • Celebrating its ninth anniversary – “we’re like a grandfather in tech” – SmartFile manages digital content to meet regulatory and compliance standards for 1,400 organizations in 80 countries
  • Hurley loves the “collisions” at Union 525 where “great risk takers and thinkers are all there creating a lot of energy”
  • He is now receiving near daily communication from venture capitalists looking at Indiana and the Midwest. Union 525 is a part of helping to make that happen
  • The next phases of tech development on the southern edge of Indianapolis’ downtown are being formulated

And be sure to check out this week’s new episode featuring Brian Schroeder of Eskenazi Health. The subject is wellness – utilizing workplace wellness as a business strategy and the idea that we can move from treating chronic disease with a pill to utilizing lifestyle medicine.

Subscribe to the EchoChamber via iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts to be sure not to miss out on future guests from the innovation, business, education and political worlds.

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 

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 www.insafetyconf.com.

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.