Promise, Partnerships and Indiana’s Future

tThe following column, written by Indiana Chamber Vice President Tom Schuman, was written for Inside INdiana Business:

In the not exactly breaking news category, there is dysfunction at the top in leadership of Indiana’s K-12 education efforts with plenty of blame to go around. But the good news is this column has nothing to do with that.

Instead, it tells about the focus being placed where it needs to be – on today’s students who will be the future workforce and aspiring community leaders. We detail some of these stories in the March-April issue of BizVoice magazine, but share a few highlights with you here.

Like in Wabash, which initiated the Wabash County Promise to provide K-3 students with 529 college savings accounts to begin to change the culture and mindset about higher education. Students with accounts are seven times more likely to continue their education beyond high school, but this program is so much more than that.

Families, teachers, the business community, private sector funding partners and others are engaged and energized. The “promise” has expanded to LaGrange, Noble and Whitely counties and the application period is open through March 9 for additional pilots for the 2015-2016 school year. The ultimate goal: a successful Promise Indiana program.

Or go to Batesville in the southeastern portion of the state. The K-12 system, Ivy Tech Community College and local businesses have partnered on a program that has students dividing their time between all three locations each week. The result is young people with on-the-job work experience and substantial credits toward an associate degree – before they receive their high school diploma.

(Batesville has a variety of other initiatives that allow students to gain real-world experiences as a result of educators acknowledging that a great deal of learning takes place “outside our walls.”)

The school-business connection is Batesville is beginning to be replicated in other locations around the state. The Indiana Works Councils, specifically created to help these conversations and alignments occur, seem to be doing just that.

It does cause one to wonder, however: Why did this take so long? Business haves complained about not having access to the skilled workforce they need; educators, as a nature of their profession, are dedicated to helping ensure future success for their students.

Rick Sherck, executive director of the Noble County Economic Development Corporation, offered an explanation in BizVoice.

“For the most part, industry and education knew they needed each other. But they didn’t know how to go about forming that relationship. Sometimes it’s been an adversarial relationship. You hire someone out of high school and you complain about the educational system because they didn’t prepare them. It’s not industry’s fault and it’s not education’s fault. We just need to work together and find solutions and positive ways to engage youth.”

Well said.

Educators, if you’re not going into your local businesses to see how the skill sets have changed with today’s jobs, do so. The doors will be open. If the reasoning from school leaders is that too many other requirements prevent such activities, challenge the status quo and make time.

Business leaders, don’t complain about a lack of workforce skills unless you’re ready to be part of the solution. In fact, you should be driving the solution as a leading partner. Invest your time in the young people in your community and you will realize the benefits for years to come.

Remember, it’s all about the students. Keep that top of mind and great things will happen.

Making a College ‘Promise’; Community Applications Available

bThe March-April issue of the Indiana Chamber’s BizVoice magazine will include a feature on the Wabash County Promise and the move to expand that to Promise Indiana.

What is the Promise? It’s creating college savings accounts for young people as early as kindergarten, but it’s also so much more — changing the culture and mindset about the importance of education to young people, families and communities.

Wabash County began its work in 2013. Three more counties (LaGrange, Noble and Whitley) came on board in 2014. Now, applications are open through March 9 for additional pilot counties for the upcoming school year.

Local leadership and support are the keys to success. Data and resources are provided to assist selected counties in a program that is gaining national attention and praise.

Remembers, to see the full story in BizVoice (online and in the mail on February 27).

Population Time Machine: From 1920 to 2010

AThe always interesting Indiana Business Research Center at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year. As a result, it is releasing information about how the state has changed over that time frame.

A recent release looks at population shifts from 1920 to 2010. The map on the IBRC site provides the visual as 17 counties (many on the western edge of the state) declined in population in that 90-year span; 15 counties experienced at least 200% growth. Here are the lists:

  • Population decline: Benton, Warren, Fountain, Vermillion, Parke, Clay, Sullivan, Greene, Knox, Martin, Pike, Crawford, Tipton, Blackford, Jay, Randolph and Rush
  • At least 200% growth: Lake, Porter, Elkhart, Allen, Tippecanoe, Hamilton, Hendricks, Hancock, Morgan, Johnson, Monroe, Bartholomew, Scott, Clark and Warrick

Marion, Lake, Allen and St. Joseph counties combined for 25% of the state’s population in 1920. That percentage increased to 36% in the 1960s and 1970s before declining to 31% in 2010.

Your Chance to Weigh in on Indiana’s Future

RMaking Indiana as successful as it can be is the goal of the Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 plan. The Indiana University Public Policy Institute has an initiative working toward the same outcome in Thriving Communities, Thriving State.

I’m pleased to have the opportunity to serve as a “commissioner” on one of the three working groups. Former Lt. Gov. Kathy Davis and former Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Randy Shepard are the co-chairs.

Upcoming public input sessions will take place across the state. The goal: encourage discussions among government, nonprofit and private sector leaders about issues that are or will be critical to Indiana’s future — to provide policy options for action.

The sessions (the first one took place in Gary on February 5) are all from 2:00-4:00 p.m.:

  • February 10: Evansville, University of Southern Indiana
  • February 17: Indianapolis, Urban League
  • February 26: Columbus, Irwin Conference Center
  • March 3: Fort Wayne, Indiana University-Purdue University

Additional information is available from Debbie Wyeth at dwyeth@iupui.edu.

People are Still Reading Magazines

10915174_884707758241099_6207917221940347920_nWhile the magazine world has been a volatile one in recent years, we’re proud to celebrate the current 100th issue of BizVoice. It’s focused on the simple question: What will it take for all of Indiana to achieve economically at the highest levels?

Check out BizVoice online. Let us know if you want a print version. And stay tuned for future issues as we continue to report on Indiana Vision 2025 (Outstanding Talent is the focus in March-April) as well as telling business stories from throughout the state.

As far as that volatility, check out these numbers compiled by USA Today:

  • 2014 :99 closures; 190 launches
  • 2013: 56 and 185
  • 2012: 81 and 226
  • 2011: 239 and 152
  • 2010: 176 and 214
  • Five-year totals:  564 closures and 1,054 launches

Why so many launches? Maybe because magazines remain a prime source for business advertising.

To determine the value of various forms of business-to-business advertising, the Association of Business Information and Media Companies conducted a recent survey. A key result: 69% prefer print magazines to learn about new products, equipment, services and suppliers.

Jim Wagner (jwagner@indianachamber.com) can help you grow your business through BizVoice. Contact Jim to learn more.

Grab Attention Quickly or Else

How much time do you have to get the attention of readers — particularly in today’s digital world? The simple answer: Not much.

Thanks to Wylie Communications (Ann Wylie is a top trainer in addition to running her own company) for the following:

In the mid-20th century, communication theorist Clay Schoenfeld suggested a 30-3-30 rule for reader attention. As in:

  • 30 minutes: These folks re readers, and don’t we wish there were more of them
  • 3 minutes: They’re not reading the text. Instead, they’re flipping, skimming and scanning for key ideas
  • 30 seconds: These folks are lookers. They’ll learn whatever they can through an image and a bold headline

Today’s reality, according to Microsoft Research, is that web visitors:

  • Decide whether to stay on a page within 10 seconds
  • Are likely to stay longer if they make it over the 30-second hump
  • At that point, may stay as long as two minutes or more

Ann’s advice: The good news is you may be able to move these folks up the ladder of attention. If the 10-second view is interesting enough, you might turn a looker into a skimmer. if the display copy reveals real value, you might turn a skimmer into a reader.

But event if you don’t move visitors up the attention ladder, you need to reach each group where they are. You need to write for all your readers.

Energy Projects Could Earn State Funding

Creative and unique energy conservation programs could earn some funding support from the state. Applications are now open for the 2015 Community Conservation Challenge (CCC) grant program.

Below are a few of the particulars with full details online from the Indiana Office of Energy Development.

  • Available funding: $700,000
  • Application deadline: February 20

CCC projects must be located in Indiana and must use commercially-available technologies. The project must be visible to the public and have at least one community partner, demonstrate measurable improvements in energy efficiency or the use of renewable energy, result in a reduction in energy demand or fuel consumption, or involve the implementation of an energy recycling process.

Eligible Indiana applicants include local units of government, school corporations, businesses, universities, and nonprofits. Applicants may apply for either an Energy Efficiency/Renewable Energy grant or an Alternative Fuel Vehicles grant.

Winners from the 2012 CCC Program included Ozinga Indiana, RMC, which converted six diesel ready-mix trucks to compressed natural gas (CNG); Hoosier Interfaith Power and Light for a solar energy project; the Linton-Stockton School Corporation for a new HVAC system, new roof and boilers; and CNG truck conversions for Bestway.

Promise Initiative is Indeed Promising

I went to Wabash (the city, not the college) recently. At one point (1985-88), I was in Wabash full time as sports editor of the local newspaper. Among the highlights during that time: a still celebrated 1986 state baseball championship.

But I digress. The reason for this visit to Wabash was for an upcoming BizVoice magazine story on the Wabash County Promise. And if young, energetic leaders have their way — and there is no reason to doubt them — the program to drive postsecondary educational attainment will one day be the Indiana Promise.

The Promise begins with opening 529 college savings accounts for young students (kindergarten through third grade). It continues with touch points that engage students and parents. It includes a Walk Into My Future day that brings thousands of young people to a college campus.

The initial success is laudable. The local leaders I spoke with know they must continue the work.  One, Parker Beauchamp, told me about speaking on campus (with the words really applying to the entire program): “It was about pumping those kids up, having them be part of something positive and letting them have a say in their future.”

The full story will be the in March-April BizVoice, which will include more articles on business-education connections and the possibilities that emerge through strong partnerships.

 

Legislative Testimony: Expanding Broadband Capabilities

The Indiana Chamber’s Cam Carter testified today in support of House Bill 1101 – Broadband Ready Communities, authored by Rep. Eric Koch (R-Bedford).

This legislation seeks to coordinate and streamline administrative procedures for the deployment of next generation broadband technologies.

The Indiana Chamber supports this effort. It should result in more competition and vital, more robust telecommunications services for Hoosier businesses and consumers.

Numbers Game: Fixing a Mistake

Someone told me it was a bad idea to include 644 different numbers on just two pages of the current issue of BizVoice magazine. He was probably right, but we’ll leave that judgement to the readers. The purpose here is to fix a mistake with eight of those digits.

I was just fascinated by the various population information by county that helps tell the story of metro/rural economic challenges in our state. But in combining the charts from several sources, we messed up the 2025 and 2050 population projections for four counties — St. Joseph, Scott, Shelby and Spencer.

As an astute reader pointed out, calamity must be coming to South Bend and Mishawaka if St. Joseph County was going to decrease from more than 266,000 people a few years ago to 21,000-plus in 2025. The correct number is 272,788.

The error is on Page 27 of the print edition. Again, four counties and two columns. The numbers were there, but just out of order. Here are the correct numbers.

We hope you find the data and stories in the issue interesting and thought-provoking. Thanks to those who have already provided feedback, including the catch of the mistake.

It’s far from the first error in my journalism career, and I’m certain it won’t be the last. Hopefully there is plenty of good that comes in between that helps provide information that you find interesting and entertaining.

Thank you for reading BizVoice.