Indiana Named Best State in the Midwest for Business

?????????????????????????????????????????A new Chief Executive magazine survey labels Indiana as the best state for business in the Midwest — and the sixth best in the U.S. A release from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) has more:

The magazine’s “Best & Worst States For Business” ranking is based on surveys of more than 500 CEOs. According to Chief Executive, the results of the 11th annual survey show that CEOs favor states with progressive business development programs, low taxes and a quality living environment.

“We’ve worked hard to create a low-cost, pro-growth economic environment here in Indiana,” said Governor Mike Pence. “This ranking confirms what we already know as Hoosiers. With an honestly balanced budget, robust infrastructure and a top-notch workforce, Indiana is a state that works for business.”

As highlighted by Chief Executive, Indiana became the first Midwestern right-to-work state in 2012, a law that was upheld by the Indiana Supreme Court last year. Since its passing, more than 100 companies have indicated to the IEDC that its passage was a factor in their decisions to locate or expand operations in Indiana. Collectively, these projects account for approximately 10,000 projected new jobs and more than $2.3 billion capital investment in the state.

Indiana’s 6th place ranking makes it the only Midwestern state in the publication’s top 10. Among neighboring states, Kentucky ranked 28th, Ohio ranked 22nd, Michigan ranked 43rd and Illinois ranked 49th.

This Chief Executive magazine ranking is the latest in a series of national accolades for Indiana’s business climate. Last year, Indiana was ranked best in the Midwest and 7th overall in Area Development magazine’s “Top States for Doing Business” as well as best in the Midwest and 7th in the nation in the Pollina Corporate “Top 10 Pro-Business States for 2014” study.

Chief Executive magazine is a bi-monthly publication for top management executives published by the Chief Executive Group LLC. Founded in 1977, the Chief Executive Group LLC is headquartered in Greenwich, Connecticut. The full survey results are available online.

2015 Best Places to Work Rankings Announced

KRH26117Hoosier companies from throughout the state with stellar workplace practices were recognized Thursday at the JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis. Before a crowd of 1,200, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce unveiled rankings for the 100 companies that made the 2015 Best Places to Work in Indiana list (released in February).

Winners were selected in four categories. Taking top honors:

  • Small companies’ category (between 15 and 74 U.S. employees): E-gineering, a technology consulting firm on the northeast side of Indianapolis
  • Medium companies’ category (between 75 and 249 U.S. employees): Project Lead The Way, Inc., a non-profit education organization headquartered in Indianapolis
  • Large companies’ category (between 250 and 999 U.S. employees): Sikich LLP of Indianapolis, an accounting, advisory, technology and managed services group
  • Major companies’ category (1,000 or more U.S. employees): Edward Jones, an investment firm with 457 branch offices throughout the state

For Sikich this marks the third straight year to finish number one. It’s also a return to the top spot for both Edwards Jones (last time was 2008) and E-gineering (2011).

“These four outstanding companies embody what strong workplaces should look like – they are rooted in respect, teamwork and good communication, and, where possible, promote professional growth,” states Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar.

“All the organizations honored tonight are exemplary employers that foster a positive and productive work environment. They understand that truly valuing employees goes hand-in-hand with the success of the business.”

At the dinner, presented in partnership with Hylant, representatives from all designated companies received Best Places to Work awards of excellence.

Organizations on the 2015 list that have displayed sustained excellence during the program’s 10-year history received additional recognition with Best Places to Work in Indiana Hall of Fame and Pinnacle designations.

Hall of Fame organizations are those that have been named a Best Place to Work in Indiana at least two-thirds of the time in the program’s history; a total of 15 companies on the 2015 list meet that criteria. Two organizations – Edward Jones and Katz, Sapper & Miller – have made the Best Places to Work list every year.

The Pinnacle recognition is reserved for those that have finished first in their category three or more times in a five-year period. The four Pinnacle companies are Microsoft (first in the major employer category in 2013-2014 and in the large category in 2011-2012), Edward Jones (tops in the large employer category from 2006-2008), Sikich LLP (first in the large employer category from 2013-2015) and Hollingsworth & Zivitz (atop the small employer category from 2012-2014).

More information about the Best Places to Work companies is available via a special section of the May/June issue of the Indiana Chamber’s BizVoice® magazine, a statewide publication released tonight and accessible online at www.bizvoicemagazine.com.

Other program partners are Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick, the Best Companies Group, Indiana Economic Development Corporation, Indiana State Council of SHRM and the Wellness Council of Indiana.

In addition to Hylant’s presenting sponsorship, Elements Financial is the event’s reception sponsor. Best Places to Work in Indiana is also sponsored by: Moser Consulting, Inc.; Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari; ADVISA; Centier Bank; Comcast; Conner Insurance; DTZ; Eaton Corporation; Goelzer Investment Management; Smithville Communications, Inc.; and Trilogy Health Services, LLC.

The Best Places organizations were determined through employer reports and comprehensive employee surveys. The Best Companies Group, which handled the selection process, oversees similar programs in 26 other states.

All companies that participated in the 2015 Best Places to Work program receive an in-depth evaluation identifying strengths and weaknesses according to their employees. In turn, this report can be used in developing or enhancing employee retention and recruitment programs.

For more information on the Indiana Chamber’s Best Places to Work program, go to www.bestplacestoworkIN.com.

Science on Display: Dow Ambassadors Connect with Students

dowAsking 10-year-olds their opinions about school subjects sometimes can yield unenthusiastic responses.

But when questioned if she enjoys science, Kelli Woods – a fourth grader at New Augusta South Public Academy in Indianapolis – passionately nods and answers, “Yes, very much – because I get to learn about new stuff and find out how it works.”

Kelli describes the project she entered in the school’s fourth grade science fair, in which she tested how soaking white roses in colored water would impact their appearance.

“My hypothesis was that the red (would make the rose change colors fastest) because it stains a lot,” she explains. “But it was actually the blue one.”

Dow AgroSciences’ Science Ambassadors gave guidance and judged the projects of Kelli and her classmates in late January in the New Augusta South gymnasium.

The scene was not a unique one as Dow’s brigade of over 300 staffers volunteer their time each year, often on nights and weekends. Last year, the ambassadors visited over 25 schools during about 75 events. Dow developed the program a decade ago, but added a major emphasis in 2012. Since then, officials estimate the company’s outreach efforts to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education have impacted more than 4,200 teachers and almost 200,000 students.

Read the full story online.

Northern Indiana Company Enlists Hoosier Painter to Illustrate Its History

Justin Vining, a popular professional artist in Indianapolis (originally from Etna Green), created a remarkable mural depicting the history of Urschel Laboratories at the company’s new global headquarters in Chesterton. This time lapse video shows the painstaking process that goes into working on such a comprehensive piece of art.

Vining relocated to the area for three months in order to complete the mural.

Chamber Offers Triple Crown of Compliance Books

HThe Kentucky Derby is fast approaching, and it will likely be another great event — especially for all those in the Kentuckiana area who love a good time. But if you’re tired of the horse race of trying to keep up with regulations and the myriad issues employers and human resources departments must keep tabs on, you’re not alone.

The Indiana Chamber is offering three new books this spring that can help you pace the field.

Authored by attorneys at Ogletree Deakins, The Immigration Guide for Indiana Employers – Fifth Edition (formerly known as the Indiana Guide to Hiring and Managing Foreign Employees) is currently at the printer and headed toward the finish line. The book covers what employers need to know when hiring foreign workers. Some of the topics updated in this edition include:

  • temporary work visa sections: H-1B professionals and L-1 intracompany transfers;
  • Form I-9 completion and compliance;
  • information about President Obama’s pending executive order on immigration and what it means for employers;
  • Indiana-specific E-Verify requirements for certain employers; and
  • handling site visits from the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services Fraud Detection Unit.

Ogletree has also authored a brand new title: Indiana Guide to Retaliation Claims. This ePub (online publication) features over 40 pages of instruction and case information that will help your company prepare against retaliation and whistleblower claims. Making a small investment in this guide can help prevent your company from becoming the next cautionary tale. This book is scheduled to be released later this month, but you can place your order now.

Additionally, the Performance Appraisal Handbook – Second Edition can help you effectively conduct appraisals on a regular basis. Authored by attorneys from Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, this book is ideal for HR professionals and small business owners who don’t want to take unnecessary chances in evaluating their employees. This book is slated for May publication.

You can order these respective guides via their web pages or by calling (800) 824-6885.

Telecommuting Now a Growing Part of the American Workplace

10061396As companies seek to become more worker-friendly, flexibility becomes more critical in retaining quality employees. The Learning House, on behalf of Grace College’s Department of Online Education, recently published an article on telecommuting and managing off-site employees.

The article includes statistics from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and includes comments from some leading business executives.

According to the SHRM, more companies began offering telecommuting in 2014 than any other benefit. The group also found that from 2005 to 2012, telework grew 79.2 percent. The largest growth year over year came from 2007 to 2008 with 14.1 percent, but the recession began to slow the growth of the practice. However, even as the total workforce declined, telecommuting grew and appears to bouncing back to new heights with the most recent figures.

Teleworkers by Sector
– Federal employees = 3.3%
– Private sector nonprofit employers = 2.9%
– Private sector for-profit employers = 2.6%
– State government workers = 2.4%
– Local government workers = 1.2%

Read the full article online.

Hoosiers Invited to Submit Photos for Bicentennial Book

book coverThere are many exciting plans in place to celebrate our beloved state’s 200th birthday. Among them is an upcoming book from the Bicentennial Commission, Indiana at 200: A Celebration of the Hoosier State. You can even place your pre-order now, in fact. The publisher, M.T. Publishing Company in Evansville, says to expect the book to be ready around Statehood Day on Dec. 11 of this year.

The state has also issued a call for photos to include in the book. See more information from the release below (but do note the deadline is May 15).

Governor Mike Pence is inviting amateur and professional photographers across Indiana to submit their favorite images of the state for possible inclusion in a coffee table book commemorating Indiana’s 200 years of statehood. The deadline to submit photos is May 15, 2015.

“As Hoosiers, we all know Indiana is a special place,” Governor Pence said. “We see the unique qualities of her cities and towns, her farms and forests. Most of all, we see the distinctive virtues of her people. This effort presents a unique opportunity for Hoosiers to take part in our state’s storied history and share their favorite photos around our state.”

Photos must be taken in Indiana and should reflect one or more of these categories: natural environment and landscape; buildings and architecture; cities and towns; farms and fields; the Hoosier people; schools and libraries; transportation; business and commerce; medicine and health; religion and philanthropy; government; media and communication; arts, culture and entertainment; and sports.

Images must be uploaded in .jpg/.jpeg format with quality resolution (300 dpi).

Use of photos will not be compensated, but photographers will receive a photo credit in the book. Photos will be reviewed and selected based on content, quality and space availability.

For more guidelines and information – and to upload photos – go to: http://mtpublishing.com/index.php/default/indiana200photos.

“Indiana at 200: A Celebration of the Hoosier State” will contain approximately 240 pages and will be published by M.T. Publishing Company, Inc., which is under contract with the Indiana Bicentennial Commission. In addition to photos, each of the book’s 14 chapters contains essays and vignettes from Hoosiers around the state.

“This commemorative book is a signature project for the Bicentennial Commission and a legacy for the State of Indiana,” said Perry Hammock, the commission’s executive director. “Four of our commission members—James Madison, Judge Sarah Evans Barker, Tony George and Mickey Maurer—have worked diligently to bring this project into being. We are proud to work with Indiana authors and an Indiana publisher.”

Folk Fest in Indy to Draw Many Bands, Raise Funds for a Great Cause on May 9

folkfestSome socially conscious business owners and volunteers in Indy’s Fountain Square area are working hard to promote the inaugural Virginia Avenue Folk Fest, which will raise funds for Trusted Mentors. Set for May 9, the festival will feature over 70 local bands and is already creating quite the buzz.

I’m proud to say that I was involved with Trusted Mentors as an adult mentor for three years, and now serve on its board of directors.

The program creates mentor/mentee matches to help at-risk adults establish stable lives by reducing the chaos brought about by poverty, homelessness, under-employment and the effects of incarceration. These person-to-person mentoring relationships improve lives by developing life skills and positive social networks that empower people to:

  • Remain housed
  • Make a positive contribution to the local community
  • Remain or become employed
  • Advance their education
  • Stay out of jail
  • Improve parenting skills

For more details about the event, check out this helpful FAQ. And we could still use more volunteers as well!

Hope to see you there, and please help us spread the word if you plan to attend by using the hashtag #folkinupindy. Folk yeah!

Brotherhood Mutual Lives Up to Name by Helping Staffers’ Children

????????????????????????????????????????????For the upcoming May/June edition of BizVoice, I’ve written several stories about companies making the Best Places to Work in Indiana list.

In speaking with Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company in Fort Wayne — a company that has made the list many times, I learned an important tidbit about how the organization helps the families of its staffers. By employing every college age kid whose parent works for the company for a period of time (40 hours per week for six to 12 weeks, starting at a salary of $10 per hour), Brotherhood Mutual helps these students gain quite an advantage.

“They may start doing data entry or working on the grounds, but as they continue through their college careers and pick their majors, we try to place them (in a related job),” explains Mark Robison, chairman and president. “So if they’re a graphic artist, they’ll be in our communications department — and accounting majors will be in our finance department. Or for upper classmen, if we don’t have a good fit for them, we’ll work with them and place them (and sponsor their work at an outside organization).”

He adds that his son was able to gain two internships in social work through the program, including one in Los Angeles.

“This year, we had 48 students apply – and we have 360 employees, so that many students coming in for the summer really changes the dynamic of the workplace,” Robison relays. “There’s more energy and it’s more exciting. The cool part is parents are taking care of each other’s kids, so the camaraderie is incredible.”

The company also supports employees’ adoption efforts, among many other family-focused benefits offered. This type of attitude is likely one of the reasons Brotherhood Mutual will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2017 — a remarkable milestone indeed.

Look for the article featuring Brotherhood Mutual and many others in the upcoming May/June edition of BizVoice.