TECH THURSDAY: Innovation ‘Critical Part’ of Kosciusko Brand

k countyEDITOR’S NOTE: BizVoice® has featured technology/innovation stories throughout its 18-year history. Look for these flashbacks each Thursday. Here is a 2015 favorite.

George Robertson wanted to know the answer to a pretty significant question: “Why is a small city in Northern Indiana (Warsaw) the Orthopedic Capital of the World?”

When Robertson came on board five years ago as the first fulltime executive director of the Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation (KEDCo), he began researching but didn’t have to look far to determine the answer.

“You see it in the stories of the companies, DePuy Synthes, Zimmer Biomet and Dane Miller (founder of Biomet). You see a trend of innovation and entrepreneurship. … Why is one of the largest automated material handling companies – CTB Inc. – in Milford? It’s entrepreneurship and innovation. And it just struck me that that was a critical part of our brand,” he emphasizes.

Read the full story online.

And learn more about the Indiana Chamber’s new Technology & Innovation Council. Our first meeting was earlier this month, and was well-attended. Want to participate? Contact Mark Lawrance at mlawrance(at)indianachamber.com.

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Policy Circle Co-Hosting Women’s Influence & Liberty Event September 17

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The Policy Circle – think a book club for women to discuss policy (not politics) – and the Center for the Study of Liberty will host the Women’s Influence & Liberty half-day conference September 17 in downtown Indianapolis.

Open to all women – and particularly those who are interested in business, entrepreneurship and even those researching various policy issues – the conference will include a chance for participants to discuss policy issues with each other and policy experts during roundtable discussion breakout sessions.

Nina Easton, chair of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women International Summit, will headline as the keynote speaker. A networking reception will follow the conclusion of the event, from 6 to 7 p.m.

The Policy Circle was formed in Illinois and serves as a catalyst for women to join together and share information and opinions, having read data-driven policy briefs prior to group discussions. The non-partisan, 501©3 organization encourages women to join together and discuss policy issues to educate and engage other women in their communities. Following group discussions every other month, members can take action, such as contacting lawmakers to advocate for specific policies, or following along with proposed legislation.

The group guidelines are to leave the social issues at home, however, and follow the direction of former Gov. Mitch Daniels. He urged for a pause on social issues so everyone could focus on other pressing items, such as foreign policy and immigration, education, economic growth, free enterprise and health care.

With 23 circles in 10 states – including Indiana – and almost 900 women involved so far, the organization is growing. For more information on The Policy Circle, including how to join or start a circle, visit the web site at www.thepolicycircle.org.

The registration fee for the Women’s Influence & Liberty event is $75 and includes lunch; register online.

TECH THURSDAY: Dow AgroSciences Helps Students Put Science on Display

dowEDITOR’S NOTE: BizVoice® has featured technology/innovation stories throughout its 18-year history. Look for these flashbacks each Thursday. Here is a 2015 favorite.

Asking 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.

And learn more about the Indiana Chamber’s new Technology & Innovation Council. Want to participate? Contact Mark Lawrance at mlawrance(at)indianachamber.com.

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State Plans First Indiana Sectors Summit

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The inaugural Indiana Sectors Summit, launching the Indiana Sector Partnership Initiative, will take place October 19-20. The purpose of the summit is to grow and expand sector partnerships across Indiana, as well as continue to explore how sector partnerships can be used as the vehicle to develop industry-driven career pathways.

Geared toward Indiana employers, the two-day event will include panels and breakout sessions around the topics of sector partnerships, pathways and work-and-learn. The summit will also include the annual Elevating Work & Learn in Indiana event and the Skill UP! Indiana Round 2 awards ceremony.

The Indiana Department of Workforce Development event will take place in Carmel. Find more information online.

TECH THURSDAY: Scott Dorsey: Business Leader of the Year

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EDITOR’S NOTE: BizVoice® has featured technology/innovation stories throughout its 18-year history. Look for these flashbacks each Thursday. Here is a 2012 favorite.

Speaking with those who’ve risen with the tide of Indianapolis-based e-mail/digital marketing juggernaut ExactTarget, a unique picture is painted of CEO Scott Dorsey’s leadership style.

“One of the things I’ve always found so impressive is that he’s an atypical CEO,” asserts director of product management Joanna Milliken, who holds the distinction of being the company’s first official hire in 2001. “When you think of these hotshot CEOs who are very verbose or demanding, (he’s different because) he’s unassuming and has an amazing balance.

“He’s an incredible risk taker, but he’s not rash. He’s compassionate, but he’s not emotional. He can be both very strategic and knows when to jump in and when to be tactical. That’s a combination you don’t often find.”

Dorsey remembers the company’s humble beginnings, striving to emerge at a precarious time for Internet businesses.

“The Internet bubble had burst; money was not flowing into Internet companies,” he conveys. “We were three entrepreneurs with no software experience. The capital-raising process was really difficult. We went down the friends and family route. It was great, but a little unconventional.”

He adds that building software products with no technical background was a challenge, and the trio was fortunate to find strong developers to help with the early generations of the product.

“We really bootstrapped the company; it was thinly capitalized,” Dorsey offers. “Three of us worked without salaries for nearly the first year we were in business. We were incredibly frugal and watched every dollar very carefully. We didn’t have much to work with. That was a good thing though, because we had to be very sales driven, and built a small product – small enough that we could start to sell it and deliver value in many ways.”

Read the full story online.

Learn more about the Indiana Chamber’s new Technology & Innovation Council. Want to participate? Contact Mark Lawrance at mlawrance(at)indianachamber.com.

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Digital: A Disruption to Embrace

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The Kauffman Foundation’s Jonathan Ortmans offers thoughtful perspective on entrepreneurship and technology topics. Below is a summary of his latest entry.

One of the great drivers of innovation today is the promise of digital disruption of complex and regulated industries. Digital disruption is not only behind the public sector’s move toward open government and open data, but is also the rise of civic-centered startups that are changing the rules of the game for traditional industries. It is time for a new wave of policymaking that anticipates a whole new set of issues for policymakers.

A new sense of urgency is called for as policymaking for the digital economy accelerates in response to what entrepreneur Steve Case calls “The Third Wave” of the Internet revolution.

As 1776 co-founder Donna Harris explains, “as digitization moves from basic applications like social media and e-commerce to more complex industries like education and healthcare, entrepreneurs tackle harder and harder problems. And that means government is more involved and that legacy institutions will inevitably play key roles … Frameworks established decades ago no longer apply, and leaders at all levels need to be proactive in understanding and regulating for a digital economy.”

Creating new regulatory frameworks for the digital workforce is a challenge. As I discussed recently, a Princeton/NBER survey found that the share of workers engaged in alternative work arrangements (e.g. independent contractors and freelancers) was 15.8 percent in 2015, up from 10.1 percent in 2005. Beyond the safety net challenges posed by the so-called “gig economy,” the impact of the broader digital economy reminds policymakers that they need to write new rules for an era where digital disruptions are giving individuals greater power and freedom to write their own destinies. The possibilities of the digital age include new remote, flexible and on-demand work opportunities – and a clear shift of power from institutions to individuals as transparency increases.

Yet most cities, let alone the federal government, are not ready to leverage digital disruption. Innovation That Matters, a pioneer report in understanding digital disruption in the United States, ranks 25 American cities’ readiness to capitalize on the inevitable shift to a digital economy, and provides metrics that city leaders can use to evaluate their progress in developing their digital economies.

The greatest policy risk of all in digital disruption is ultimately policymakers reacting too slowly or providing what Harris calls a mediocre legacy of a “patchwork of laws and tensions.” There are some exceptions to follow from smaller nations that are leveraging the fact that small is beautiful and also more doable. Nations like Estonia for example, have their top authorities leading their countries digital economies, through initiatives in digital infrastructure and even an e-residency program for global entrepreneurs.

Getting the public sector up to speed with the digital revolution is not an easy process. Internal capacity and cybersecurity are two large roadblocks. And it will take many intra-preneurs in government to make the necessary changes, as well as increased rapprochement to civic entrepreneurs who can help one of society’s most traditional sectors – government – react responsibly and responsively to digital disruption. Let the work begin.

Read the full post online.

JOIN US: Learn more about the Indiana Chamber’s new Technology & Innovation Council. Want to participate? Contact Mark Lawrance at mlawrance(at)indianachamber.com.

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All About the Water

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The governors of the Great Lakes states recently approved a request by a Wisconsin city to draw water from Lake Michigan after its existing water supply dried up. But because the city isn’t in the watershed of the Great Lakes, the two Canadian provinces that share Great Lakes water rights say the request should be denied.

Waukesha, Wisconsin will be allowed to tap Lake Michigan for up to 8.2 million gallons per day once it completes a $207 million pipeline project that would draw in lake water and return fully-treated wastewater.

Delegates for the governors of Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York gave their unanimous consent to the first formal request to divert water outside the Great Lakes basin during a meeting of the compact council.

The 2008 compact prohibits water from being sent outside the basin watershed. Communities like Waukesha, located over the line but within a straddling county, can apply under a limited exception.

The eight governors approved the request over the objection of widespread opposition. Mayors, legislators, policy-makers and citizens around the Great Lakes have worried about the precedent Waukesha’s application represented.

Waukesha is under a court-ordered deadline to provide safe drinking water by mid-2018. The city draws most of its water from a deep aquifer that is contaminated with unsafe levels of radium, a naturally occurring carcinogen. The city has a population of about 70,000 people.

Kiplinger warns that more water conflicts will flare up, citing California, India, South Africa and the Middle East among the likely areas of dispute.

Health Care Just Keeps Getting Bigger

16446238A few health care economic facts to consider:

  • The United States spends more on health care than any other country – $3 trillion in 2014. That equals $9,523 per person or 17% of gross domestic product
  • In the six years after the recession, health care added 2.1 million jobs, more than the next three industries combined – leisure and hospitality, professional services and education
  • Employment in health care is projected to grow by 19% from 2014 to 2014, adding about 2.3 million new jobs
  • Nearly one in 11 overall jobs is in the health care field. In 2014, that was 12.2 million jobs
  • The top five states with highest percentage of jobs classified as health care jobs: West Virginia, 11.4%; Rhode Island, 11%; Maine, 10.8%; Ohio, 10.6%; and Massachusetts, 10.4%

You Can’t Require Positivity

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Apparently it’s unlawful to ask employees to maintain a positive workplace. At least, that’s the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) view of it.

The NLRB board threw out a provision in T-Mobile’s employee handbook that required workers “to maintain a positive work environment by communicating in a manner that is conducive to effective working relationships.”

According to the ruling, forcing workers to be positive all the time infringes on their rights to organize, protected by Section 7 of the NLRA. And employers cannot prevent workers from organizing.

Just a week later, the NLRB shot down another company’s employee handbook that prohibits employees from engaging in conduct that’s offensive to other employees. According to the NLRB, the rule “is not accompanied by any other descriptive language that would help employees interpret what types of ‘offensive’ conduct the rule is targeting.”

So what can be learned? “Avoid the temptation to draft broad statements and instead draft provisions under the purview of whether an employee would reasonably construe the provision … limits their Section 7 rights,” attorneys Thomas Chibnail and John Hasman write in National Law Review.

Talent War is Underway

16342368As the economy has improved, unemployment rates have fallen, and employees have become more demanding. Manta polled small business owners about employee benefits and found that they are feeling the pinch — mostly from prospective employees — about benefits plans. According to the poll, about 47% of potential employees put the pressure on about benefits. Employers are also feeling the pinch from their competitors’ plans.

The most common benefit offered, according to the survey, is paid vacation (72%), followed by flex-time benefits (58%), paid sick leave (57%) and remote work options (46%).

A separate study by Aflac confirms this trend. Almost two-thirds of employees polled were likely to take a job with lower pay but better benefits. And 42% of employees said improving their benefits package was one thing their employers could do to keep them in their jobs — ranking higher than a promotion. What’s more, 16% admitted they have left a job or turned down a job in the last 12 months due to the benefits offered.

Finally, employees who are satisfied with their benefits are much more likely to be satisfied with their jobs (96% vs. 68%) and less likely to be looking for a job in the next 12 months (46% vs. 57%).