Indiana Michigan Power Offers Energy Efficiency Tools for Small Businesses

As summer heats up, a message from Indiana Michigan Power (I&M), an Indiana Chamber Cornerstone Partner:

I&M understands that small business owners don’t have the time or resources to focus on anything but the growth and nurturing of their businesses. That’s why they are offering assessment tools and incentives to help small business owners improve the efficiency and appeal of their businesses.

With up to $3,000 per business site available to upgrading lighting, refrigeration and other equipment, the I&M Small Business Energy Tool will help you control your business operating costs and, for many businesses, increase productivity and improve product appeal.

No matter your business – grocery store, gas station, or professional services firms – upgrading to high-efficiency lighting makes employees more productive and makes customers feel more welcome. It gives your business a fresh, modern look while reducing overall costs.

All it takes is 10 minutes to get you on your way!

Visit the I&M Small Business Energy Tool today to get a customized energy report for your business, and to find out what financial incentives you qualify for to implement the recommended upgrades. An I&M representative will then follow up with you to personally answer questions and assist you with getting started.

Walmart to Host June 28 Open Call in Arkansas for U.S. Manufacturers

Indiana manufacturers and entrepreneurs are invited to attend Walmart’s Open Call for U.S. products on June 28 in Bentonville, Arkansas. It’s an opportunity for businesses across the country to meet one-on-one with Walmart’s buyers to potentially have their products sold in Walmart stores and online.

The event is part of Walmart’s 10-year $250 billion commitment to advancing U.S. manufacturing.

Walmart writes:

Open Call is an opportunity for entrepreneurs and manufacturers large and small in Indiana to meet one-on-one with Walmart’s buyers and potentially have their products sold on Walmart shelves and on Walmart.com. This year, more than 500 entrepreneurs from 48 states will pitch more than 750 American-made products to our buyers giving American entrepreneurs a unique opportunity to potentially reach millions of Walmart customers. From food to toys to apparel, and companies large and small from coast to coast, we want to make a deal for U.S. made products. This year’s event will showcase American entrepreneurship and celebrate ingenuity and diversity. Nearly half of all businesses self-identify as diverse including as women-owned.

Walmart is committed to significantly investing in products that support American jobs through events such as Open Call and by working with local suppliers whenever possible. Manufacturing, sourcing and growing products at home not only supports American jobs, but also drastically reduces shipping costs and is better for the environment. In fact, it has been estimated that 1 million new jobs will be created in the United States as a result of our manufacturing initiative.

To inquire, reach out to Walmart Director of Corporate Affairs Matthew Fitz-Gerald at (202) 434-0719 or matthew.fitzgerald@walmart.com. For media inquiries, contact Scott Markley at (800) 331-0085 or via Walmart’s media site.

Chamber Honored for Support of National Guard

Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar holds the Above and Beyond Award, presented to the Chamber for its support of our employee Cory Ahlersmeyer. Cory’s annual two-week deployments allow him to train for his service in the National Guard.

We’re proud to have received the Above and Beyond Award from the U.S. Military’s Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve program for our support and flexibility with our staffer Cory Ahlersmeyer. We’re grateful for his service to the country and proud to call him a colleague! The award reads: “Presented on behalf of the men and women of the National Guard and Reserve Forces for outstanding service and continuing support to the National Defense.”

Brain Drain/Gain Workshop Yields Comprehensive Report

In late April, Purdue University partnered with the Indiana Chamber, Indiana INTERNnet and others to present a brain drain/gain workshop as part of the Chamber’s 53rd Annual Human Resources Conference. Panel discussions, presentations and more on the talent/skills gap were compiled into a comprehensive report. Read the full report.

It documents the workshop, including key takeaways and actions and is provided to those with an interest in these topics. Our aim is for the information in the report to be a resource for those working to make progress within their organization and forming collaborations with other stakeholders to move Indiana forward.

Chamber Statement on State Takeover of I-69 Project

Indiana Chamber of Commerce President Kevin Brinegar, who is also the board chair for Hoosier Voices for I-69, comments on the state’s announcement today that the Indiana Finance Authority is taking over management of the I-69 section from Bloomington to Martinsville:

“It’s the absolute right thing for the state to do to ensure that this segment and the entire project is completed as quickly as possible.

“We must stay on course, because the ramifications are too important. When fully finished, the new I-69 – from Evansville to Fort Wayne – will help further Indiana’s position as the Crossroads of America.

“It will provide many more Hoosiers with better road access, leading to reduced travel time. And that also is very attractive for businesses, making Indiana an even more viable hub for companies and new jobs.”

Chamber Scores Lawmakers on Voting Records, Honors Five as Legislative Champions

Each year, the Indiana Chamber holds state lawmakers accountable for their voting records on pro-jobs, pro-economy legislation. Today the 2017 results were revealed in the organization’s annual Legislative Vote Analysis, with vote scores ranging from 29% to 100%.

“We want employers and citizens to take note of this report because it makes it very clear which legislators were supportive of bettering Indiana’s economic climate and which were not,” states Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar.

Bills included for examination in the Legislative Vote Analysis can be traced back to the Indiana Chamber’s economic development plan, Indiana Vision 2025 (www.indianachamber.com/2025). The plan contains 36 goals in the four driver areas of Outstanding Talent, Attractive Business Climate, Superior Infrastructure, and Dynamic and Creative Culture.

Separately, the Indiana Chamber acknowledged 11 legislators who made a difference in the 2017 session. Five legislators were named Indiana Chamber Legislative Champions for “taking on tough assignments and working diligently to see much-needed policy cross the finish line or at least meaningful debate started,” Brinegar offers.

These legislators are: Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer (Dist. 89 – Beech Grove); Rep. David Ober (Dist. 82 – Albion); Sen. Jeff Raatz (Dist. 27 – Centerville); Rep. Holli Sullivan (Dist. 78 – Evansville); and Rep. Ed Soliday (Dist. 4 – Valparaiso). (Why each received the honor is listed on page 6 of the report.

Additionally, appreciation was noted for six lawmakers in leadership positions: House Speaker Brian Bosma (Dist. 88 – Indianapolis); Senate President Pro Tem David Long (Dist. 16 – Fort Wayne); House Education Committee Chairman Bob Behning (Dist. 91 – Indianapolis); House Ways and Means Chairman Tim Brown (Dist. 41 – Crawfordsville); Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee Chairman Brandt Hershman (Dist. 7 – Buck Creek); and Senate Education and Career Development Committee Chairman Dennis Kruse (Dist. 14 – Auburn).

All scores and the full report are available at the Indiana Chamber’s web site at www.indianachamber.com/lva.

Base scores for each legislator are calculated as a percentage of votes cast in agreement with the Indiana Chamber’s position on the bills included in the Legislative Vote Analysis. Six pro-economy, pro-jobs bills were double-weighted to reflect their importance. These include legislation for long-term road funding, ISTEP replacement, pre-K expansion for children from low-income families, an appointed State Superintendent of Public Instruction, a broad energy policy and prohibiting a “ban the box” practice against employers seeking criminal history information on an employment application.

A modest adjustment factor (positive or negative) was added to the Legislative Vote Analysis scoring model to factor in very important legislative activities outside of floor votes. These include whether a legislator sponsored/authored these important bills and whether committee chairs held hearings or killed these bills.

Legislators who score 70% or greater for the most recent four-year voting period are eligible for endorsement by the Indiana Chamber’s political action committee, Indiana Business for Responsive Government.

Lawmakers are notified of the Indiana Chamber position and reasoning on the bills in this report through various communications during the legislative session – and prior to key votes being taken. Only floor votes for which there is a public record are used in the Legislative Vote Analysis.

Copies of the Legislative Vote Analysis report are sent to all legislators and Indiana Chamber board members, and made available online for all businesspersons, community leaders and citizens.

This marks the 33rd year the Indiana Chamber has measured state legislators’ voting performance on bills that reflect the organization’s public policy positions.

Chronic Diseases Top of Mind for New Wellness Council Executive Director

Chronic disease management is a costly challenge in Indiana. Due to high rates of tobacco usage and obesity and the resulting health issues (diabetes, lung cancer, heart disease, etc.), Indiana finds itself again near the bottom of recent national health and fitness rankings.

As the new executive director of the Wellness Council of Indiana (WCI), Jennifer Pferrer is ready to help tackle those challenges and spread the message of comprehensive wellness programming to Hoosier employers.

“Some of the goals in the Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 economic development plan target reducing smoking rates and obesity levels in Indiana, and the role of the WCI is to bring that conversation to a broader space and make an impact in health care costs and the health of Hoosiers,” she explains.

“I’m passionate about health care and I am looking forward to adding my mark on the Wellness Council of Indiana, as it really fits my background.”

Pferrer joined the WCI – a program of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce – in April and previously worked for the American Diabetes Association (ADA) for 10 years, serving in roles that included executive director for Indiana and Kentucky, and regional vice president of a six-state region. Prior to the ADA, she studied consumer-physician relationships as marketing manager at St. Vincent Hospital.

Pferrer’s goal is to continue proving the value of the WCI as an investment for Hoosier employers.

“Wellness is so much broader than Fitbit programs. This is not just food and fitness. There is a data-driven business case for wellness. Wellness needs to be seen as an investment and it goes back to managing chronic diseases,” Pferrer notes. “For example, health education for employees with pre-diabetes can reduce the annual health care spend by the employer by thousands of dollars.”

Through the WCI’s AchieveWell company-based wellness program certification and the Indiana Healthy Community Initiative – which encourages a community-based approach to wellness to increase economic development potential – Pferrer says the infrastructure is in place for wellness success.

“I want employers to know – if wellness is on their radar, they don’t have to recreate the wheel. We can convene and share best practices and be that resource for them,” she concludes.

For more information on the WCI or to connect with Pferrer, visit www.wellnessindiana.org or call (317) 264-2168.

Chamber Report Card Shows State Is Moving Forward, But a Quicker Pace Required

While economic momentum continues in portions of the state, the Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 Report Card and 10th annual workforce survey clearly illustrate challenges that need both short- and long-term attention.

Among the findings: not enough skilled workers to meet economic needs; high rates of smoking and obesity that prove costly and impact quality of life; rising electricity prices; and a lack of statewide entrepreneurial activity and venture capital to support such efforts.

“There are a number of positive developments – both taking place every day and in our latest research – that are cause to celebrate,” says Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar. “But it is also evident that a lack of workers, unhealthy lifestyle choices and limited Indiana-based funding to grow promising companies is keeping the state from realizing its full potential.”

The Indiana Vision 2025 Report Card compares the 50 states on 62 metrics related to 36 goals grouped by four drivers: Outstanding Talent, Attractive Business Climate, Superior Infrastructure, and Dynamic and Creative Culture.

Overall, Indiana did better on the 2017 version than the 2015 Report Card. Improvement occurred in 36 metrics – up from 28 two years ago; Indiana also declined in 16 rankings, which was three less than in 2015. The state remained the same or there was no updated data available in eight metrics; that number was 12 in 2015. (Two metrics couldn’t be compared.)

Some of Indiana’s top performances include:

  • Business regulatory environment: Regulatory Freedom Index (2nd) and Small Business Policy Index (9th)
  • Early education: A variety of top 10 ranks in NAEP (National Assessment of Education Progress) test scores, particularly at the fourth-grade level
  • Exports: 10th among the 50 states, extending a string of similar rankings

The early education gains, however, are countered by a lack of workers in critical areas, including STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). The Report Card reveals Indiana colleges and universities produce the third most science and technology degrees, but the state is only 42nd in the adult population with such degrees.

In addition, two troubling trends from the Indiana Chamber’s annual employer workforce survey continue:

  • The number of respondents that left jobs unfilled due to under-qualified applicants increased to 47% – from 39%, 43% and 45% the last three years
  • Those indicating that filling their workforce was their biggest challenge also increased – 29% after previous marks of 20%, 24% and 27%. Combine that with those answering next biggest challenge and the number soars to 79% – following totals of 72%, 74% and 76% the last three years

“Employers tell us, both through the survey and in their daily work experiences, that they simply can’t fulfill growth possibilities due to the lack of skilled workers,” Brinegar notes. “While many efforts are underway to prepare future employees and upgrade the abilities of those in the workforce today, those programs must be operated at the highest level of effectiveness and accelerated.”

The unhealthy lifestyle choices among Hoosiers carries a $6 billion annual price tag in increased health care costs and lost productivity. Indiana’s 20.6% adult smoking rate is an improvement over past years, but ranks 39th among all states. A six-rank improvement in adult obesity still leaves the state with a 36th-place rating and nearly a third of adults are considered obese.

Electricity prices, once considered a strong advantage for the most manufacturing-intensive state in the country, are now 29th for industrial customers and 26th for commercial. And while progress has been made on gathering data to avoid the water crises that have plagued others, the state must move quicker on regional planning and governance issues regarding future supplies.

In the important area of Dynamic and Creative Culture, momentum in central Indiana is overshadowed by poor statewide performance in a series of metrics, including: Kauffman Entrepreneurial Index (tied for 44th); job creation among new firms (44th); and venture capital (35th).

“Indiana must continue to make all areas of the state attractive destinations for workers and the companies that create jobs,” Brinegar concludes. “We’re encouraged by the regional cooperation that has emerged in recent years and look forward to enhancing our statewide performance and outcomes in future Report Cards.”

About Indiana Vision 2025
Mission: “Indiana will be a global leader in innovation and economic opportunity where enterprises and citizens prosper.” Indiana Vision 2025 was developed by a statewide task force of community, business and education leaders. The plan was released in early 2012. This third Report Card is available at www.indianachamber.com/2025.

About the Indiana Chamber Foundation’s Workforce Employer Survey
Sponsored by WGU Indiana, the 10th annual survey was conducted in partnership with Walker. More than 1,200 employers responded. Full results, including questions on workforce training and opioid use in the workplace, are available at www.indianachamber.com/education.

Statewide Discussions and Analysis
The 2017 Report Card and workforce survey will be the focus of six regional forums (to discuss the results, obtain local analysis and share best practices). The events are sponsored by Duke Energy Foundation; Indiana Michigan Power; NIPSCO, a NiSource company; and Vectren.

The forum schedule: June 6 (South Bend), June 7 (Hammond), June 27 (Sellersburg), June 28 (Indianapolis), June 29 (Evansville) and July 20 (Fort Wayne).

Give Your Skills a Workout During Summer Training Events

Just as a body needs exercise and a healthy diet to stay in top physical shape, skill sets also require regular training to achieve peak performance in the workplace.

The Indiana Chamber is offering several “workouts” in June and July covering topics such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), worker’s compensation, wage and hour laws, and more.

Stretch your mind with these June events (full listings at www.indianachamber.com/conferences):

Family Medical Leave Act Seminar (June 8), Ritz Charles in Carmel. Presented by Ogletree Deakins, this seminar is appropriate for new and experienced human resources professionals. Attendees will learn the responsibilities of FMLA and how to ensure a compliant workplace.

2017 Indiana Worker’s Compensation Conference (June 20), Hyatt Regency in downtown Indianapolis. Learn strategies to keep worker’s compensation premium rates low and how to handle worker’s compensation claims. Sponsors are Athletico Physical Therapy, the Center for Diagnostic Imaging and Kindred Healthcare. Additional sponsorships are available by contacting Jim Wagner at (317) 264-6876.

The French Lick Springs Hotel in French Lick will be the host site of two July training options. These two-day events take place July 20-21:

  • The Advanced HR Management Seminar was created in 2016 and inspired by feedback from previous conference attendees. Participants will learn about the significance of marijuana legislation and the opioid epidemic on the workplace. Key issues regarding FMLA and the Americans with Disabilities Act will also be discussed.
  • The Supervising and Managing People Workshop is ideal for new and experienced supervisors. Attendees can gain a better understanding of what is expected of a supervisor and will take a self-assessment test to measure performance in supervisory skills.

On July 27, the 2017 Indiana Wage & Hour Law Seminar will be held at the Indiana Chamber Conference Center in downtown Indianapolis. Presented by Ice Miller, this seminar will address tactics to keep your company in compliance with wage and hour laws. Attendees will receive updated information on potential federal changes.

See event pages for complete details. Continuing education credits apply in certain cases and count toward the Indiana Chamber’s Human Resources Specialist Certificate.

Take your training to the next level and register today by going online or by calling Nick at
(800) 824-6885.

Health Care: Donnelly Co-Authors Bipartisan Bill to Speed Up FDA Approvals for Devices; Young Reaches Across the Aisle on ACA

Senators Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) have re-introduced the bipartisan FDA Regulatory Efficiency Act, which would allow the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to bring innovative medical devices to market more quickly.

Donnelly stated, “As scientists and innovators across Indiana and our country work to find new cures and therapies, we should be making it easier for them to bring these products safely to those who need them. I’m proud to work with Sen. Gardner on this bipartisan legislation to cut through the red tape at the FDA and safely speed up the approval process.”

The FDA Regulatory Efficiency Act would help the FDA concentrate on high-priority activities by authorizing third parties to approve quality systems of device companies. Authorized third parties could only approve changes that do not involve major technology changes or changes in the use of the product. The legislation would still hold companies accountable for their quality systems, while also helping to alleviate the overwhelmed FDA. Donnelly and Gardner first introduced the legislation in October 2015.

Health Care Reform Notes
Freshman Sen. Todd Young has reached across the aisle in an attempt to find common ground on health care. He recently sent a letter to all Democratic senators urging them to share their views on what’s working and what’s not with the Affordable Care Act. Young is a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which will have a key role in shaping the Senate’s version of health care reform.

Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (IN-02) is touting the American Health Care Act (AHCA), as passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, and how it “brings us closer to a better health care system that puts patients first.” Her editorial appeared Sunday in the South Bend Tribune.

Congressman Larry Bucshon, M.D. (IN-08), who sits on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce where he is a member of the Subcommittees on Health, is using his web site to promote the Washington Post’s fact-checking of several recent claims about the AHCA. One is on coverage for those with pre-existing conditions and the other on classification of assault as a pre-existing condition; both claims were deemed untrue.