I came to the Indiana Chamber slightly more than 15 years ago partially out of a desire to return to my writing roots. Newspaper reporting and other writing had evolved into managerial duties that primarily included editing and page layout (that's another story for another time).
The writing part started on Day 1 and has never really stopped. If variety is the spice of life, I can skip the spice aisle at the local grocery. Fifteen years of BizVoice magazine have delivered numerous story opportunities on subjects ranging from education and taxes to economic development and business success stories.
But we do a lot more at the Indiana Chamber, which involves many forms of writing. Some of the ongoing projects/initiatives that we're working on for our members and investors:
Video: Members discussing value of Chamber advocacy
Magazine: BizVoice award total recently climbed to 62
I love history and art – not to mention a “feel good” story. Maybe that’s why I enjoyed writing a BizVoice® article last summer about restoration of Elkhart’s historic Lerner Theatre, one of many projects revolving around the city’s new downtown arts and entertainment district.
Renovation of the structure, built in 1924 as a vaudeville palace, was completed in June. It wasn’t transformation of the theatre alone that I found captivating. It was the “story within a story” – The Lerner’s rebirth revitalized Elkhart (helping to boost revenue and morale), one of those hit hardest during the economic downturn.
And the story continues.
Design firm Moody•Nolan and associate architect Cripe Design recently earned a Palladio Award (specifically the Sympathetic Addition Award) for their addition and façade restoration of the theater.
Jim Kienle, director of Moody•Nolan’s Historic Preservation Studio, was quoted in a 2010 BizVoice® story focusing on environmentally friendly preservation efforts involving restoration.
Looking forward to seeing what’s in store “in the next act” for The Lerner and other renovation projects.
We're in the process of putting the finishing touches on the Best Places to Work issue ofBizVoice magazine. What can I tell you that won't spoil the secret of where the 100 companies on the list are ranked in each of the four categories?
The 100 companies are a record, topping the 70 honored in each of the last two years. There's room for plenty more. If you apply and meet the Best Companies Group criteria in your benefit offerings — and more importantly in the eyes of your employees — you can join the fun
There are four categories, based on number of U.S. employees, in 2013 (and in ensuing years)
But you knew that already. What will you be able to read in this BizVoice?
Info about all 100 winners
In-depth profiles of the top three in each category
Columns from five honorees on what it means to be a Best Place to Work and how their organization has benefitted from previous recognition
Employees from 10 more businesses on the list, telling what they enjoy most about coming to work every day and which company perk is their favorite
A roundtable discussion with four companies that did not make the list in 2012
How some try to deal with "turning off the technology" and creating an even stronger work-life balance
Summary results from both the employer questionnaire and employee survey
For the rest, you will have to wait for the May 2 awards dinner at the JW Marriott, when 1,200 friends join us for a true Indiana business celebration. BizVoice will be online late that evening with the print edition on the way to your mailbox.
And if you're wondering why your company wasn't included — it probably didn't apply. The applications for 2014 begin in August. Learn more.
For the May-June issue of BizVoice magazine, I had the opportunity to write some stories on energy issues of the day. When energy is the topic, the focus normally is on the source of the power (coal, gas, nuclear, etc.). One of my pieces dealt with the need for enhanced transmission to move the electricity to where it is needed.
A potential newcomer to the transmission mix in Indiana is the Grain Belt Express Clean Line. This 700-mile overhead, high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line will deliver wind energy from Kansas to Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and states farther east. Starting in western Kansas, the line will connect at a substation near Sullivan in western Indiana.
The Indiana Chamber is supporting Grain Belt, a $2 billion project that the company says would enable $7 billion in investment in new wind farms and provide power for 1.4 million homes. Approximately 200 businesses in Indiana are involved in the wind energy and transmission supply chains.
The HVDC is said to be most efficient over long distances. It requires a narrower right of way, resulting in lower cost transmission and prices. Clean Line will fund the transmission and sell the capacity to wind generators and load-serving entities.
As noted in the upcoming BizVoice article, transmission approval and construction is a long-term process. Grain Belt requested public utility status in Indiana in November 2012, allowing it to operate, manage and control transmission facilities. Commerical operations could begin as early as 2017.
We combined the two in a strictly unscientific survey, asking the Best Places applicants to prioritize five of the Indiana Vision 2025 goals. There are no right or wrong answers, of course, but it's interesting to see how these top organizations rank some of the strategies that will help move our state forward.
The five goals and the average rank (1 being most important, 5 least important):
Develop entrepreneurship and aggressively promote business start-ups through education, networking, investment and financial support: 2.3
Diversify Indiana's energy mix with an emphasis on clean coal, nuclear power and renewables: 4.2
Enact comprehensive local government refrom at the state and local levels to increase efficiency and effctiveness in delivery of services: 3.4
Increase to 90% the proportion of Indiana students who graduate from high school ready for college and/or career training: 2.1
Increase to 60% the proportion of Indiana residents with high quality postsecondary credentials: 3.0
Work is ongoing on all the Indiana Vision 2025 goals. The 2013 Best Places to Work program will culminate with the May 2 awards dinner. Rankings will be revealed at that event and BizVoice magazine will profile the 100 winners.
Those words have echoed in my mind since I traveled to Wabash in early 2008 for a BizVoice® magazine story about business leader (and local legend) Richard Ford. Ford took me on a heartfelt tour of the city and the endeavors (many revolving around downtown revitalization and the arts) he passionately was steering.
Entrepreneurism is “in Ford’s blood.” His grandfather founded the Ford Meter Box Company – a manufacturer of water meter equipment located in Wabash with clients across the globe – and his great-grandfather was a Civil War surgeon who started a home-based physician’s practice in the area. Pretty cool.
“They want to go back.”
An accompanying BizVoice® story about downtown revitalization efforts featured restoration of the former Red Apple Inn, reborn on March 17, 2010 as Charley Creek Inn (Richard Ford founded the Charley Creek Foundation, which led the project). The historic building – which features elegant guest rooms, event planning accommodations and retail shops – has become a popular destination.
Satisfied customers earned the hotel a 2012 TripAdvisor® Certificate of Excellence award. Here’s an excerpt from the announcement:
Charley Creek Inn, a renovated boutique hotel, recently announced that it has received a TripAdvisor® Certificate of Excellence award. The award, which honors hospitality excellence, is given only to establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveler reviews on TripAdvisor, and is extended to qualifying businesses worldwide. Approximately 10% of accommodations listed on TripAdvisor receive this prestigious award.
To qualify for the Certificate of Excellence, businesses must maintain an overall rating of four or higher, out of a possible five, as reviewed by travelers on TripAdvisor. Additional criteria include the volume of reviews received within the last 12 months.
Congratulations Charley Creek Inn! Something tells me I’ll be seeing you soon.
Onsite OHS is an Indiana success story, delivering medical services around the world (including in war zones). A 2011 Indiana Company to Watch and ongoing recognition from Inc. magazine for its growth are among the honors.
Add a cup of coffee (or more than 2,500 cups and letters of support) to the support efforts of the company and its employees. Kudos to this Indiana Chamber member:
Onsite Occupational Health and Safety (Onsite OHS), a veteran-owned small business whose workforce is 42 percent veterans, helped lift the spirits of U.S. troops deployed overseas through a holiday donation of more than $5,000 to Cup of Joe, a program run by Green Beans Coffee.
The program allows anyone to say thanks to the troops and let them know they're appreciated through the simple act of buying a cup of freshly brewed coffee, writing a personal letter of encouragement to go with it and having both delivered into the hands of a Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine or Coast Guardsman who is serving far from home.
The Cup of Joe letters sent from home are delivered to Troops by email and the freshly brewed cups of coffee are served at Green Beans Coffee cafes on the bases where they're deployed. When the Troops receive a Cup of Joe gift, Green Beans gives them a way to write back and let folks at home know how they're doing.
Onsite OHS invited its employees to contribute to the program and matched these contributions with a corporate donation.
Onsite OHS President and CEO Kyle G. Johnson told his employees, “I want to personally thank you for the contributions and generosity you have shown to those who are protecting the freedom of each of us and our families. This is what it’s all about! We as a company strive to make a difference in lives every day. And we do! Not only do we have nearly 250,000 patient contacts every year, but because of your performance day in and day out, we are able to do things like these.”
Also see this 2011 BizVoice article about how Johnson is playing a key role in revitalizing the Princeton business community.
A two-minute video overview of the January-February BizVoice, as seen on Inside INdiana Business. See what’s in the latest edition, especially if you’re interested in education, government and workforce development. There’s a lot going on in the Hoosier state!
The award count for BizVoice climbed to 61 before the end of 2012, while the Indiana Chamber’s Legislative Dinner also earned top honors in the Indiana Society of Association Executives’ (ISAE) STAR Awards last week.
ISAE is the statewide membership and development group for Indiana association professionals. The STAR Awards, in their 11th year, took place at the Dallara IndyCar Factory in Speedway. The BizVoice and Chamber honors:
Outstanding Magazine/Newspaper: BizVoice is the leading statewide business magazine, providing 15,000 company, political and community leaders with business news and analysis. Its 61 national and state awards have been for writing, design and overall excellence over the past 13 years.
Outstanding Individual Program/Event: The Chamber’s 2012 Legislative Dinner included former congressman and statesman Lee Hamilton as featured speaker. More than 500 attendees came together in February in this annual networking event during the Indiana General Assembly session. Indiana breweries and wineries were also highlighted at the event.