Indiana Documentary on Bicentennial Torch Relay Wins Spot in Heartland Film Festival

Indiana is no stranger to the bright lights of Hollywood. Even the recent movie Columbus (set in Columbus, Indiana and starring Jon Cho, Haley Lu Richardson and Parker Posey) treated the city and architecture of Columbus almost as a main character in the movie.

Another accolade that Indiana can add to its film repertoire is Everlasting Light: The Story of Indiana’s Bicentennial Torch Relay, selected for screening at the 2017 Heartland Film Festival (held in Indianapolis).

Flag of the State of Indiana

Produced by the Department of Telecommunications at Ball State University and commissioned by the Indiana Office of Tourism Development (IOTD), the documentary highlights the 2016 torch relay that spanned 260 cities and towns in all 92 counties in celebration of the state’s bicentennial.

The IOTD has more on the film’s inclusion in the festival, including where and when you can view the documentary:

“We are honored to have the documentary selected for the film festival,” said Mark Newman, IOTD’s executive director. “Looking back on the torch relay now, nearly one year since it concluded, I continue to be amazed by the positive impact it has had on our state.  The way that it brought people and communities together has been a great reward.”  

The film will screen three times during the festival:

Tuesday, October 17, 2017 at 7:45 PM @ AMC Castleton Square 14  

Thursday, October 19, 2017 at 12:00 PM @ AMC Castleton Square 14  

Friday, October 20, 2017 at 5:15 PM @ AMC Showplace Traders Point 12  

You can purchase a DVD of the documentary here.

IOTD recently received a Mercury award for best Public Relations Campaign for the Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay by the U.S. Travel Association at the 2017 ESTO conference, held in Minneapolis.

IOTD is also being honored by the Indiana Historical Society for the Bicentennial Torch Relay. It was chosen as one of the winners in the Outstanding Bicentennial Collaborative Project category. A ceremony will be held in November.

During the five-week relay, students from Ball State University worked with the Indiana Office of Tourism Development to produce daily videos, photos, articles, and social media related to the relay. The team worked the same material into the 36-minute documentary Everlasting Light.

This is the ninth honor for the film, which has won eight awards including a Gold Aurora Award, a Society of Professional Journalists award, two awards from the Indiana Association of School Broadcasters, and four Accolade Awards of Merit. In addition to the Mercury Award, the entire media project also won a Summit Emerging Media Award and two ADDY’s.

Hoosiers Need More Zzzzzzzzs (Employers Can Help)

Sleepy worker

Ten years ago, sleep was not one of my top priorities.

I slept whenever I wanted (outside of my work hours). It was glorious.

Now that I’m a parent of two small children and come home to chores and tasks and homework and all the things you have to squeeze in to a 24-hour period (along with any sort of relaxation at the end of the day … Netflix on the couch, anyone?), sleep is the thing that gets squeezed out of my schedule.

I know skimping on sleep is not a healthy habit and that I need to make it more of a priority. But, like other busy people, I have a lot of priorities. What’s the motivation for more sleep?

It turns out I’m not the only Hoosier with this particular challenge. A recent article in the Indianapolis Star reports that more than 38% of Hoosiers say they don’t get the recommended amount of sleep per night (at least seven hours).

The article’s headline claims Indiana is the 8th most tired state. While we beat out Hawaiians (who came in last), the residents of South Dakota are seemingly very well rested.

Why should employers care if their employees aren’t prioritizing their rest?

Obviously, sleepy employees make for less productive employees. That’s not surprising.

What is surprising is how much the unrested employees might cost employers. The National Safety Council this week revealed a cost calculator to show the impact of sleepy employees.

Other concerns for employers include health care-related costs – from paying more over time for employees with sleep disorders who require medicine or machinery to get their required rest to the correlation to Indiana’s obesity rate, which can impact sleep quality. All of this can cost employers in terms of health care expenses and absenteeism issues.

So what is an employer to do? For one, the Wellness Council of Indiana offers employers a road map to implementing wellness programs in the workplace. Whether or not your wellness game plan directly targets the sleep of your employees, you can take steps to encourage your employers to eat, move and sleep better. Here are a number of resources you might find useful, including this article on sleep habits; one on workplace fatigue risk management; and this newsletter focusing on the dangers of insomnia and suggestions for how to deal with the condition.

You can also simply ask your employees if they feel well-rested and if there is any other way you can motivate them to get better rest. Perhaps an internal policy change regarding work hours or flexible scheduling could make a bigger impact than you realize. Even encouraging employees to make sure they take advantage of their vacation time could help ensure rested, rejuvenated employees who are ready to work.

What other ideas do you have for encouraging employees to get more rest (at home)?

Indiana’s ‘Growing’ Industry: Wine (Plus, A Little History)

Of the many things Indiana is known for, being a hub for the wine industry might be a surprise.

Yet, Indiana is one of the top 20 wine-producing states in the nation and the Purdue Wine Grape Team (an extension service for the wine grape industry) points to impressive economic impact stats:

  • The wine industry’s annual impact on the economy in Indiana: $100 million
  • There are eight million bottles of Indiana-made wine sold annually; more than one million gallons of wine are produced annually
  • By 2019, there should be 100 wineries in the state (there were 37 in 2007)

And if the topic of wine pops up at your next social event or networking soiree and you need a new “Did you know?” (or just want to know more about the wine industry) here are a few interesting factoids:

  • Enology is the study of wine and winemaking
  • Viticulture is the science, production and study of grapes
  • Purdue offers four courses related to wine and food science and is home to the Richard P. Vine Enology Library, which contains about 2,000 bottles of wine; the school is home to three vineyards, including one near Vincennes

If you’re interested in the history of Indiana wine (including which town was the birthplace for the pre-Prohibition top 10 industry in the state), read this history from Indiana Wines.

And speaking of history, you might be interested in learning about some of the oldest wineries in the world, which pre-date Indiana’s now-booming industry by hundreds of years. A recent blog post from Wine Turtle (a group of wine enthusiasts out to make it easier for beginners to learn about wine) looks at the oldest wineries in the world (edited for length, but find the full post here):

  1. Staffelter Hof – Germany

The Staffelter Hof is one of the oldest wine companies in Germany. Its name is linked to a monastery in Belgium and its winemaking history goes back to the 862 AD.

  1. Château de Goulaine – France

The Loire Valley is a region famous for its spectacular landscapes, medieval castles, and exquisite wines. And one of the oldest wine companies in France and in the world is located here. The Château de Goulaine’s history goes back to the year 1000 when Marquis Goulaine founded the first winery in France.

The winery still belongs to the same family and produces some excellent Muscat and Vouvray wines. For this reason, the company is considered the oldest European family owned winery.

  1. Schloss Johanisberg – Germany

Although Germany is not one of the leader winemaking countries, it boasts some of the oldest wine companies. In fact, Schloss Johannisberg winery is the third on our list and its history begins in the year 1100.

  1. Barone Ricasoli – Italy

In 1141 Baron Ricasoli establishes the oldest wine company in Italy that still bears his name. The winery is located between Siena and Florence, an area particularly famous all over the world for the great quality of the wines.

  1. Antinori – Italy

39 years later, in 1180, in Italy emerges the second oldest wine company of the country, the fifth in the world. The Antinori family started producing wine in the Florentine countryside before moving to Florence in 1202.

  1. Schloss Vollrads – Germany

Back to Germany, we have to mention a wine company founded in 1211 that became famous mainly for its Rieslings, the Schloss Vollrads winery.

Mike Rowe Surprises Northwest Indiana Veteran in Web Series

Heads up: You might want to have tissues nearby.

In his new web series “Returning the Favor,” Mike Rowe is visiting hardworking community-minded people around the country with the goal of repaying the favor of their community service or volunteerism. Rowe was the star of the Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe” and is an outspoken advocate for trade occupations.

The first episode is filmed in Lake County’s Cedar Lake (near Crown Point) and features U.S. Army Engineer veteran Jason Zaideman, who created and runs a non-profit organization called Operation Combat Bikesaver.

Zaideman’s mission with the organization is to help other veterans and first responders live through post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries, depression and other mental health issues that can accompany military service or emergency response.

Participants (who need to apply and be accepted into the program) are taught how to rebuild motorcycles and get to keep the bikes they rebuild, while often learning new skills and using the Operation Combat Bikesaver workshop as a form of therapy to deal with a myriad of issues.

The episode features Zaideman’s story of how and why he created the organization. Throughout the episode, Rowe hears from veterans working in the shop and talks with local business owners and law enforcement officers about Zaideman’s impact on the community.

The style of the series is also intriguing as it gives a background look into producing the show, often showing Rowe and his producers planning their surprises for Zaideman – which take place at the end of the 20-minute episode.

And the surprises are great. I won’t spoil them here, but again will remind you to grab a tissue or watch this video somewhere where you won’t mind getting a little teary-eyed.

You can learn more about Operation Combat Bikesaver here and view the video here.

(*As is typical with Rowe, there is some salty language/content, though most is edited for a “family” audience, as Rowe mentions.)

Chamber Offers Bountiful Training Options

Amidst the falling leaves and football games, take time to update your skills with a variety of education and training opportunities from the Indiana Chamber in October.

One of the leading events is the 2017 Indiana Environmental Conference on October 23-24 at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Indianapolis. The event takes place in partnership with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) and is presented by Plews Shadley Racher & Braun, LLP.

Ellen Ketterson, Ph.D., Indiana University distinguished professor of biology, will give the opening keynote presentation on the university’s Grand Challenge initiative, a $55 million investment to help Hoosiers become prepared for environmental change.

IDEM attorneys Nancy King and Beth Admire will open the second day’s program by discussing the restoration of the Grand Calumet River. Sen. Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso) and Jim McGoff of the Indiana Finance Authority will deliver an update on water legislation during a closing luncheon keynote presentation.

Breakout sessions on a variety of topics will take place both days; an expo runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 23.

The Gold sponsor is Bose McKinney & Evans LLP. Silver sponsors are Air Quality Services, Ice Miller LLP, Roberts Environmental Services, Taft Law and Trinity Consultants.

Register for the conference online or call (800) 824-6885.

Three other training opportunities focus on human resources and safety:

 

Don’t Forget to R-EAP the Benefits of Employer-Sponsored Plans

While salary, vacation time, insurance payments and creature comforts are the highly-touted employer benefits offered to employees, there’s an extremely valuable resource that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves: the Employee Assistance Plan (EAP).

Though benefits change from plan to plan, an EAP often covers services such as free counseling or therapy sessions, phone or internet-based counseling options, assistance with elder care/child care, financial assistance, stress management, help with legal concerns, addiction and recovery assistance, concierge or convenience services and more.

While not all companies offer the plans, over three-quarters of employers named to the 2017 Best Places to Work in Indiana list reported offering an EAP to their employees. And as the top-rated workplaces in the state based on their own employee surveys, they must all be on to something.

I sat down with the Indiana Chamber’s director of human resources, Michelle Kavanaugh, SPHR, to discuss why EAPs are sometimes underutilized and what human resources professionals can do to help boost involvement. She points to the EAP often getting lost in the open enrollment or new hire process.

“The benefits process and open enrollment can be overwhelming to people; they’re just trying to figure out the medical side of insurance and a lot of times the extras get missed,” she offers. “The EAP benefits that people hear about, you just sort of put them away and don’t think you’ll ever need to use it.”

Another issue is the stigma that surrounds mental health.

“There is also a misconception about reaching out for help with mental health issues that prevents people from utilizing it too,” she adds.

Her recommendations for getting the word out include utilizing existing communications methods – highlighting various pieces of the EAP in a company newsletter, for example. And using personal testimonials from employees who have benefitted from the resources can make a big impact.

My personal testimonial is this: I was never aware of the benefits of an EAP myself (I have no idea if any of my previous employers even offered such a service) until the time came that I needed additional help outside of the office, particularly after my first daughter was born and I struggled with post-partum anxiety. My first piece of advice to any friend or family member dealing with myriad issues is, “Does your employer offer an EAP? Go talk to your human resources representative and find out.”

Employers benefit from offering the programs as well. While I don’t have return on investment numbers to share, it’s well documented that emotional and mental well-being are critical to employee performance and productivity. If employees are able to manage their stress – financial, emotional, family and otherwise – outside of the workplace, they’re less likely to have those issues impact their performance on the job.

Help your bottom line by ensuring your employees know they have valuable resources available to them. Or, if you don’t have an EAP, talk to your benefits provider about how to get started. And don’t forget to spread the word to your employees – it only works if they use it!

Economics of an Eclipse: Tourism Boost or Total Bust?

Thanks to astronomy and a little thing known as the internet, you’d have to be hiding under a rock to be unaware of our impending celestial event today: a solar eclipse where the path of totality stretches across the entire United States.

Cities along that path – where the sun will cast a perfect full shadow around the moon – are hoping and planning for a big bump in tourism.

While viewers in Indianapolis will see about 92% coverage of the sun, those in Evansville will see about 99% and Jeffersonville residents will see about 96%, according to the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT).

But Hoosiers interested in seeing the full totality need only travel a few hours south to Hopkinsville, Kentucky, where they can be near the “Greatest Eclipse” point and will be able to see the eclipse last for two minutes and 40 seconds. A number of other Kentucky cities will also be prime eclipse-viewing locations, including Paducah, Bowling Green and Madison.

Cities throughout the country are preparing to cash in on the once-in-a-lifetime event – the most recent coast-to-coast solar eclipse was in 1918 – by building and upgrading infrastructure. A CNBC report on the subject highlights Hopkinsville spending half a million dollars on sidewalk and other improvements, while a Casper, Wyoming, a downtown plaza is costing $8.5 million (which was already planned and needed by the city, but stimulated by the eclipse potential), according to CNBC.

That same report cautions that because the path of totality is relatively accessible and there are numerous highway exits along the route, entities might end up overspending on projects without recouping additional tourism dollars. Additionally, the concern is that too many eclipse tourists could put a strain on things like gas, food and local infrastructure and might backfire in the form of a public relations nightmare if crowds overstress local health care facilities or get stranded without gas or lodging.

The economic benefit (or cost) of the solar eclipse won’t be calculated until after the heavenly bodies have realigned. But if the fervor around scrounging for the last pair of unclaimed eclipse glasses is any indication, it’s possible those cities and towns made a safe bet on a short-term tourism event.

INDOT is also warning travelers in southern Indiana to plan for traffic congestion and reminding Hoosiers that overnight camping at rest areas is prohibited. INDOT is also urging motorists to pay attention to the road during the eclipse, turn on headlights when it gets dark out and don’t stop along the highway to view or take photos.

And remember to take safety precautions when viewing the solar eclipse, from wherever you choose to view it. Wear ISO-certified protective eye glasses or (if you’re like me and didn’t get glasses in time) make a pinhole projection. The American Astrological Society has instructions here on how to construct one.

Happy viewing!

Lessons Learned From an ‘Almost’ Scam; Read More in September/October BizVoice

Have you ever been financially scammed?

I was, nearly. In my senior year of college, I got a phone call one night from a chipper-sounding gal that let me know I had won something (I don’t even remember now what the thing was!) and all I had to do was give my credit card information (I didn’t have a credit card, but did have a debit card. So, that’s much worse).

She made it sound like a sweet deal and was very persuasive. I obliged and handed out my numbers.

There was something in the pit of my stomach that didn’t feel right in the moment. As soon as I’d hung up the phone, I knew I’d made a huge mistake. I was at the local branch of my bank the first thing the next morning. As I stumbled through my explanation and through the tears of worry – and most of all embarrassment: how could I have fallen for it? – they assured me they had canceled my card and nothing illicit had happened.

I was lucky.

Lucky I listened to my gut and stopped it before anything could happen.
And lucky I was a college kid who didn’t have much money in her account anyway, had things turned out differently.

Not a grandmother who is scammed into giving away her life savings. Or a single parent in a desperate situation who is willing to put their hope into something – anything – that seems like a way out of a financial mess, only to have things get a lot worse.

And while banks and financial institutions have become more proactive about educating customers, improving their fraud policies and offering protection services and other means of fortification, there are still “bad actors” out there causing financial havoc.
As those “bad actors” have become more sophisticated over time, the ease of the internet has made all of us relax on our privacy and security. Who’s got a banking app on their phone? Is your password secure enough a thief couldn’t guess it? Are the answers to the security questions easy enough to figure out if someone were to do some research into your social media presence?

What are banking institutions doing to fight fraud? And how can customers – businesses and individuals – help shield their interests from falling into the hands of scammers?

We’re diving into the topic of fighting financial fraud in the September-October edition of BizVoice®. I’ll be speaking with Andy Shank, professional fraud investigator for Elements Financial, who spent 13 years as an investigator with the Indiana State Police and worked with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in that time.

We’ll look at what financial institutions are doing to guard their customers’ interests and ward against fraud, and Hoosier experts will offer tips on how you can protect your company and your personal financial interests.

See you in September!

100th Student Says ‘I Can Go Back’ at WGU Indiana

An initiative from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education (CHE) has been making gains in getting more of the 750,000 Hoosiers with some college but no degree to commit to finishing.

The statewide “You Can. Go Back.” effort hit another milestone earlier this month when the 100th student enrolled at WGU Indiana through the CHE initiative.

As we reported in the March-April edition of BizVoice®, those 750,000 Hoosiers make up about 21% of Indiana’s working-age population. And reaching the goal set forth by the CHE (and the Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 plan) of Indiana having a 60% postsecondary education attainment rate (the current rate is about 41%) is unlikely without some of those adults with some college and no degree.

A press release from WGU Indiana adds that the nonprofit, online university offered an application fee waiver and a $100 tuition grant certificate for any student applying through the CHE campaign; a $2,000 scholarship has also been renewed for the next school year.
The CHE offers financial aid – including $1,000 grants on a first-come, first-served basis – and a matching web site to connect students with the best institution for their needs. A marketing campaign has also targeted specific demographics that are likely to return to school (in February, over 9,000 potential students targeted through the campaign had re-enrolled and almost 5,000 had been matched with participating schools).

“You Can. Go Back.” also applies to industry certifications and credentials, as well as two- and four-year academic degrees.

Additionally, the CHE partnered with Indiana employers to reach more potential returnees and is seeking more small- and mid-sized companies to sign on and encourage their employees to go back and get their degree.

Employer resources through “You Can. Go Back.” include a toolkit of promotional materials to inform employees, as well as a connection to local campus programs and other companies that offer such degree completion options for employees.

For employers interested in learning more or signing up, visit www.youcangoback.org and click on “Employer Partnership Sign-Up.”

I’m Crowdfunding Nostalgia, and It is Delicious

In the midst of holiday package arrivals at my house, I recently found an unexpected one: a 12-pack of sweetened sparkling water that I had crowdfunded almost two years ago (and nearly forgotten about).

How could I forget, I ask myself? This is no ordinary fizzy drink. This is pure nostalgia in a bottle; a beautiful, light-blue, tear-drop shaped glass bottle containing the sweet nectar of my youth: Clearly Canadian. When I was young and was allowed to pick a drink when we’d stop at the gas station, I always reached for Clearly Canadian (usually the Mountain Blackberry flavor). It was the best.

At some point in the early 2000s, it was gone. (The company launched in 1987, and was also responsible for a wacky space-age drink of the late 1990s: Orbitz, which resembled a lava lamp complete with gelatinous floating blobs, and was only on the market for about a year.)

Alas, I moved on with my life and mostly forgot about the clear soda beverage, until May of 2015, when suddenly, there it was in my Facebook newsfeed: Clearly Canadian was coming back to life! And I could help through crowdfunding!

I had only crowdfunded one other thing (if you’ve seen the Veronica Mars movie, you’re welcome); and it was such a fun experience to see that come to fruition, and to realize I had a teeny, tiny part in making it happen.

Crowdfunding is still a fairly young concept. It has been around since about 2008 and emerged as a response to banks lending less to artists and entertainers in the wake of the economic recession, according to a World Bank report from 2013. It has expanded far past entertainment, however, and the World Bank report notes that by 2025, the potential for crowdfunding investment is $96 billion a year.

And in Indiana, rules passed in 2014 allow Hoosier entrepreneurs to raise up to $2 million, and investors to invest up to $5,000 per company (the JOBS Act of 2012 dealt with federal rules for crowdfunding).

Of course, there are risks associated with crowdfunding. As an investor, sometimes things don’t go smoothly and you risk the company or product not being executed. That was definitely the case for Clearly Canadian. Expected delivery dates (September 2015, then October 2015, then November 2015) came and went. Email updates mostly stopped. Apparently there were problems with vendors and at one point the production facility shut down in the middle of a production run.

Early in 2016 there was an update, but again, nothing happened. I basically thought I’d lost my $30 (the base-line contribution for this campaign was around $30 for a 12-pack). C’est la vie.

Until earlier this week, when I received a shipment on my doorstep. I’m not ashamed to admit there was squealing and dancing on my part. I am slightly ashamed to admit the first thing I did was take a photo of my prized possession and post it on Facebook to make my fellow ’90s friends jealous. It worked, they were jealous (except for the one that also participated in the campaign. We did a virtual “cheers” with our drinks).

Do you crowdsource? Has it all gone smoothly? Share your stories! I’m interested to hear your experiences, too.