Breaking Down the Research Efforts

Research corridors are not new. In our neighbor to the north, the University Research Corridor has been a strong performer over a number of years.

The State Science & Technology Institute has this brief recap of a recent analysis:

Michigan’s University Research Corridor, an alliance of Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University, conducted $1.2 billion in academic R&D in the life, medical and health sciences, and served as a stabilizing force to the state’s economy as one of the only sectors that grew during the 2000s. Those are among the findings of the 2017 URC sector report, which was prepared by Public Sector Consultants.

The report, Leading Discovery: URC Contributions to the Life, Medical and Health Sciences, notes that employment in the life, medical and health sciences sector, which accounts for one in eight jobs in Michigan, is up 18.9 percent since 2000, compared to overall Michigan employment, which is down 9.3 percent.

The URC also was successful in moving discoveries out of the lab and into the marketplace. From 2012 to 2016, the following results relating to the life, medical and health sciences sector were found:

• 1,348 inventions reported by researchers
• 380 U.S. patents issued
• 433 new license agreements
• 32 new startup companies
• $142 million in royalties earned

Where Are All the Workers?

While Indiana’s unemployment dipped to 3.6% last month, Utah is a full half point lower. The New York Times recently cites some of the challenges that brings. A few excerpts:

After eight years of steady growth, the main economic concern in Utah and a growing number of other states is no longer a lack of jobs, but a lack of workers. The unemployment rate here fell to 3.1%, among the lowest figures in the nation.

Nearly a third of the 388 metropolitan areas tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics have an unemployment rate below 4%, well below the level that economists consider “full employment,” the normal churn of people quitting to find new jobs. The rate in some cities, like Ames, Iowa, and Boulder, Colo., is even lower, at 2%.

That’s good news for workers, who are reaping wage increases and moving to better jobs after years of stagnating pay that, for many, was stuck at a low level. Daniel Edlund, a 21-year-old call center worker in Provo, Utah, learned on a Monday that his hours were changing. On Wednesday, he had his first interview for a new job.

But labor shortages are weighing on overall economic growth, slowing the pace of expansion in northern Utah and other fast-growing regions even as unemployment remains stubbornly high in Rust Belt cities like Cleveland and in regions still recovering from the 2008 recession, like inland California.

To Todd Bingham, the president of the Utah Manufacturers Association, “3.1 percent unemployment is fabulous unless you’re looking to hire people.”

“Our companies are saying, ‘We could grow faster, we could produce more product, if we had the workers,’” he said. “Is it holding the economy back? I think it definitely is.”

But the share of Utah adults who have withdrawn from the labor force remains higher than before the recession. Last year, 31.7% of adults in Utah were neither working nor looking for work, up from 28.2% in 2006. That is part of a broad national trend.

References Still Really Matter

Allison & Taylor estimates that approximately 50% of all reference checks it conducts reflect some degree of employer negativity.

Here are five false perceptions that explain why countless job seekers go for months, or years, without landing that next job:

Myth No. 1:
Companies cannot say anything negative about a former employee.

Reality:
While countless companies have policies dictating that only title, dates of employment and salary history can be discussed, their employees – particularly at the management level – frequently violate such policies. Former supervisors are particularly notorious in this regard.

Myth No. 2
Most corporations direct reference check requests to their human resources departments, and they are trained to ensure that nothing negative will be said about me.

Reality:
Most human resources professionals will indeed follow proper protocol. However, be warned that some will not. When asked whether a former employee is eligible for rehire, some will indicate they are not – and may go on to explain why this is the case. Even if they indicate “not eligible” and offer no further explanation, a potential employee is unlikely to take the risk of hiring you without knowing the reason why a past employer has described you as ineligible for rehire.

Myth No. 3
Assuming HR has nothing negative to say about me, I should be “ok” with that company, reference-wise.

Reality:
Prospective employers have figured out that former supervisors are much more likely to offer revealing commentary about a company’s former employees. Your supervisor(s) knew you personally and has formed opinions about you, favorable or otherwise. When asked for their opinion, supervisors frequently forget, or are unaware of, company policies that typically instruct them to refer incoming reference inquiries to HR.

Myth No. 4
I should have my references listed on my resume and distribute them together.

Reality:
You never want to list your references on your resume, or indicate “References Provided Upon Request.” You do not want companies that may have little/no interest in hiring you bothering your references. What’s more, you may be wrongly assuming that the references you list truly “have your back.” Countless job seekers offer up the names of references that ultimately provide lukewarm or unfavorable commentary about them. The candidate should have a list of their references readily available (in the same format/font as their resume) to be given to prospective employers. When offered at the conclusion of an interview – in a highly professional format – it can create a very proactive (and favorable) ending impression.

Myth No. 5:
I took legal action against my former company and they are now not allowed to say anything.

Reality:
They may have been instructed not to say anything definitive, but do not put it past them to make your life difficult. There have been countless instances where a former boss or an HR staffer has said, “Hold on a minute while I get the legal file to see what I am allowed to say about this former employee.” Most employers are uncomfortable hiring someone who has a legal history, probably dashing your job prospects.

Jim McCormick: Class Personified

There are rightfully many tributes being offered about longtime Vincennes business and community leader C. James McCormick, who passed away earlier this week at age 92. We’ll share two related to the Indiana Chamber – where Jim, as he was known to all, may just have the longest tenure of any board member in the organization’s 95-year history – and our BizVoice® magazine.

In 2006 Jim’s son, C.J. “Mac” McCormick III was going to be honored as the Chamber’s Business Leader of the Year when he tragically passed away in a plane crash 13 days before the Annual Awards Dinner. In an obviously difficult time for all, Jim agreed and wanted to accept the award on behalf of his son.

His words of wisdom that night (see photo) served as both a tribute to his son and a lesson to all to live life to its fullest as Mac did. In a Chamber career that spans more than 19 years, the class of the McCormick family – led by its patriarch Jim – stands out as one of the most memorable moments.

Jim was always eager to talk about his lifelong home of Knox County and Vincennes. Among his most recent acts of public service was as a member of the Indiana Bicentennial Commission. In an interview for the January-February 2016 BizVoice® bicentennial issue, Jim said:

“Vincennes has so many firsts. It would take a whole page to list them all. Vincennes needs to put its best foot forward and champion those firsts (during 2016).” Speaking of his beloved Vincennes University, where he was still active on the board of trustees, he added, “We’ve made giant strides in technology and teaching young people how to be ready for the marketplace in the computer and robot age. A few years ago, that wasn’t an issue or something we talked about. I guess I’m a little biased, but I think VU stands tall in offering those opportunities.”

Jim, thank you for everything you did for your community, our state and everyone you came into contact with during your 92-plus years. Yours indeed was a long life well-lived.

Give Me Liberty! Give Me a 51st State

A television station in Washington state recently reported that representatives there would like to divide their state — with the eastern half becoming the state of Liberty. Legislation includes the following: “Since statehood, the lifestyles, culture and economies of eastern and western Washington have been very distinct and dramatically different.”

The TV outlet reports a tech, service-oriented economy in Seattle and Olympia (the capital), while Spokane anchors the east with roots in mining, forestry and agribusiness.

Not surprisingly, forming a new state is not a simple process. But shockingly, at least 12 new states have been proposed at one time or another (according to State Legislatures magazine). Among the offerings: South Alaska, South Florida, North Maine and Superior (Michigan’s Upper Peninsula).

Behind Indiana’s Impressive CEO Ranking

Many of you likely saw the news yesterday about Indiana maintaining its No. 5 overall ranking – and tops in the Midwest – in Chief Executive magazine’s 13th annual Best & Worst States for Business survey. A few things that might have been missed:

  • As the name indicates, these rankings are based on CEO perceptions. It’s good for Indiana to be regarded so highly overall by the group making ultimate business decisions, but it also leads to few changes for most states
  • Texas was No. 1 for the 13th straight year and Florida No. 2 for the fifth year in a row. North Carolina (despite the turmoil over its since-repealed transgender bathroom issue) and South Carolina also topped Indiana
  • At the bottom, California was at No. 50 for the sixth year in a row. New York and Illinois were next in line
  • There has been some movement, however, in the middle. Ohio, now at No. 11, was No. 41 in 2011 and No. 22 just two years ago. On the other end of the spectrum, Louisiana was No. 7 in 2015 and No. 33 this time around
  • Indiana’s individual category rankings included: Workforce quality, No. 8 (although we know there is much work to do in this area); taxes and regulation, No. 14 (we would have expected to be a little higher there); and living environment, No. 16
  • Industry rankings were also part of the survey. Indiana was second in manufacturing and 10th in energy

Larry Gigerich, executive managing director of Fishers-based Ginovus and chair of the Indiana Chamber’s economic development committee, was quoted in the release of the rankings. He said simply, “The top-ranking states have continued to implement public policy supporting economic development to ensure that they remain as leaders.”

Complete rankings are available online.

CSR Not Always Easy to Accomplish

University of Michigan researchers break down the corporate social responsibility efforts of public vs. private companies.

When companies make public declarations of social responsibility, it can be hard to tell whether they actually change practices or if they exaggerate the impact — a practice known as greenwashing.

Most of the attention has focused on company financial effects and stock price reaction of corporate social responsibility initiatives. But new research by professors Jun Li and Andrew Wu examine the social outcome of corporate social responsibility efforts.

They found a striking difference between public and private companies’ behavior after signing onto the United Nations Global Compact program. Their analysis shows private companies are significantly more likely to follow through on their promises than public companies.

“There do seem to be conflicts for public companies when it comes to corporate social responsibility,” says Li, professor of technology and operations. “They are constrained by shareholders and by law to maximize profits. If the CEO of Patagonia wants to buy organic cotton, he can make it happen even if it means lower margins. A public company has to justify that to shareholders.”

Li and Wu developed a novel method to find a common corporate social responsibility proxy and track the outcomes. They examined the 6,420 companies that signed onto the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) between 2007 and 2016. It covers a broad array of responsibility goals — such as labor standards, environmental, and corporate governance — and it’s a unified set of standards.

They then matched those companies with reports from RepRisk, a third-party firm that screens more than 80,000 media, regulatory and commercial documents in 15 languages each day for negative events regarding company-level environmental, social and governance events.

Li and Wu found that private companies that signed onto the UNGC reduced their negative impacts, as reported by RepRisk, by 6.3 percent per month. There was no change for public companies, though in some cases the negative impacts increased slightly.

“If you think about corporate social responsibility, it’s mostly a diversion of resources,” says Wu, professor of technology and operations and professor of finance. “Not only from company shareholders to other stakeholders, but also from short-term to long-term. But public company managers tend to focus more on the short term and are incentivized as such.”

The exceptions they found among public companies were ones that own customer-facing brands. In those cases the value of corporate social responsibility is aligned with shareholders, since consumers often punish companies for irresponsible behavior.

Utah Tops List of Where Growth is Happening

Utah’s population topped three million people in 2016, with the state being the fastest growing in the 12-month period starting July 1, 2015. The western flavor continued with others at the top of the list including Nevada, Idaho, Florida and Washington.

Now, approximately 38% of the population lives in what the Census Bureau identifies as the South, with 24% in the West.

Kiplinger goes a step further, with cities where it expects job creation to thrive going forward. At the top of that list (with a reason or two cited) are:

  • St, George, Utah: magnet for tourists visiting Zion National Park and retirees seeking pleasant weather
  • Bend and Redmond, Oregon: also strong in tourism and drawing retirees
  • Cleveland, Tennessee: home to a wide range of manufacturing operations
  • Prescott, Arizona: cooler climate makes it an attractive alternative to Phoenix
  • Savannah, Georgia: home of the fourth-busiest ocean port, which will grow once its harbor is deepened to handle larger vessels

Education-to-Employment (E2E) Convergence

Representatives of the higher education, business, nonprofit, government, and economic and workforce development sectors will convene for the third annual Education-to-Employment (E2E) Convergence on Thursday, April 20 on the Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis campus.

E2E Convergence is a statewide forum focused on how Indiana can build a stronger workforce by developing and retaining college graduates. It brings together all those with a stake in the successful integration of college graduates into Indiana’s workforce to identify opportunities to promote career awareness and skills development.

Currently scheduled speakers include:

  • Liz Dunlap, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, IU Health
  • Jason Kloth, President and CEO, Ascend Indiana
  • Jill Lehman, Vice President Administration and Chief People Officer, Ontario Systems
  • Naomi Pescovitz, anchor and reporter, WTHR

A reservation form for the E2E Convergence is available online.

Where We’re Importing and Exporting

A glance at two maps – top import and expert country for each state in 2016 – reveals some interesting observations:

  • On the export side, Canada is the leading destination from 33 states (including Indiana and 25 of the other 31 east of the Mississippi River)
  • Mexico (six states) and China (four states) were next on the list
  • Among the more intriguing partnerships: Nevada’s exports are going to Switzerland
  • On the import side, nine countries are represented with China (23 states) and Canada (14 states) leading the way
  • Indiana and Oregon are the two states in which the lead importer is Ireland (Happy St. Patrick’s Day, by the way!)
  • Of Indiana’s four neighbors, China is tops in Ohio, Kentucky and Illinois, while Mexico (think auto industry) is the top partner with Michigan
  • Hawaii stands alone with its top partners of Indonesia (imports) and Australia (exports)

According to the American Enterprise Institute:

Last year, American companies sold $2.2 trillion worth of goods and services to buyers in other countries, and American companies and consumers purchased $2.7 trillion worth of imports from trading partners all around the world. Seven states – Michigan, Louisiana, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Washington and Texas – have their international trade represent more than 30% of their economic output.
Together, that volume of international trading activities represented 26% of the value of America’s $18.5 trillion in GDP in 2016. In terms of employment, more than 27 million American workers, about one in five, have jobs that are directly supported by trade with the rest of the world. Some states like California and Texas have more than two million jobs that are directly supported by international trade.