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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Unfunded Burden of EPA Mandates on States Grows

Protecting the environment is a noble goal. However, when the EPA issues mandates that are not reasonable, states suffer. A new U.S. Chamber report has more:

How can states administer 96.5% of all federal delegated environmental programs when federal grants to the states fund no more than 28% of the amount needed to run the programs? The study, the eighth in a series on the federal regulatory process, concludes that instead of being the system of cooperative federalism that Congress intended, the current relationship between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the states has become one-sided, with the federal government imposing its will.

The U.S. Chamber recommends Congress take specific steps to alleviate and prevent EPA from continuing to commandeer the states. These recommendations include redefining the term “mandate” to better track the impact on the states, passing the Regulatory Accountability Act of 2015, enacting the Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act, and several other actions outlined in the study.

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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Survey: Where Will the Workers Come From?

Several straightforward conclusions can be drawn from the ninth annual workforce survey conducted by the Indiana Chamber and its foundation.

The good news is that respondents are optimistic about growing their businesses over the next one to two years. The challenge, however, is that they don’t know where they are going to find the workers to allow that growth to take place.

For the third consecutive year, the number of jobs left unfilled due to underqualified applicants increased. So did the number of employers who identified filling the workforce as their biggest challenge.

“There is a reason that Outstanding Talent is the top driver in our Indiana Vision 2025 plan,” says Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar. “The survey once again reinforces the work that must be done at so many levels to increase the skills of our current and future workers.”

View the press release and additional survey charts.

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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: First Technology & Innovation Council Meeting a Success

Over 100 Hoosier innovators and leaders joined us for the first ever meeting of the Indiana Technology & Innovation Council Tuesday. Here are some pictures from the gathering, held in the Indiana Chamber Conference Center in Indianapolis, along with a summary and next steps:

pic4Indiana Chamber of Commerce VP Mark Lawrance is leading the Chamber’s efforts in bringing the council together to help Indiana’s tech ecosystem move forward in a unified manner.


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Bill Soards of AT&T addressed the crowd, relaying lessons he learned about entrepreneurship and the tech sector while working in Colorado.


pic3John McDonald of CloudOne led the discussion about policy priorities, sharing captivating stories from his experiences and gaining valuable feedback from those in attendance.


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John Wechsler of Launch Fishers has become one of the state’s go-to mentors and leaders for entrepreneurship.


pic5 The crowd included representatives from Indiana’s K-12 and college education sectors, including Allison Barber of WGU Indiana.


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Ian Steff of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation also addressed the crowd. We’re grateful for the IEDC’s commitment to helping create more high-paying jobs in the Hoosier State via tech and innovation.


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Indiana Business for Responsive Government’s Jeff Brantley discussed the role legislators can play in helping Indiana’s tech sector thrive.

Telling a Good Story Makes All the Difference

November 2016

Storytelling is an ideal way to convey your business’ message in a way that resonates with listeners, and potential customers. Ellen Munds, executive director of Storytelling Arts of Indiana, elaborates and provides information on important upcoming workshops:

Telling the story of your business is harder than it sounds, right? You think to yourself, Oh, I can do that. But when it comes down to it, most of us get stuck, asking ourselves, “What IS the story of my business? What story am I supposed to tell? What if I don’t think it’s an especially interesting story?”

Storytelling is one of the current buzzes in marketing. Your competition is doing it. Your business partners are doing it. And research tells us it makes a difference because people relate to stories. People connect through stories.

Granville Toogood, author of The New Articulate Executive, says that when we’re reading data, reports, product specs, etc., we’re working out of our “conscious mind.” That’s good. We need to do that to make good decisions. But if you and your competitor present equally compelling data about what you offer, what will make us buy from you? The organization that wins us over is the one that gets us into our “primal mind.” Our primal mind is the part of us that responds out of our deep likes, dislikes and gut feelings. The only way to get to a person’s primal mind is through story.

Neuro-economist Paul Zak adds that when we encounter stories, our levels of cortisol and oxytocin increase. The cortisol makes us more attentive and the oxytocin makes us more sympathetic. So if you want people to pay attention to your business and feel sympathetic to your cause, you need to tell stories!

What are the compelling and influential stories of your business? The next time someone asks you, or any of the people on your management team, “What does your company do?,” will you tell a story which influences that person to spend more time with you? Or will your story be the same, non-memorable word salad shared by every other generic worker in the room?

Learn more through a two-part workshop titled “The Story of Your Business and the Business of Your Story.” It takes place November 9 and 16 at Barnes & Thornburg in downtown Indianapolis. Storytelling Arts of Indiana presents the sessions in collaboration with Accent On Business and the hosts. Learn more online.

Indy’s WebLink Celebrates 20 Years Serving Chambers, Associations

weblinkIndianapolis-based WebLink celebrated its 20th anniversary this week. The company provides innovative software and technology solutions for associations and chambers of commerce. A release has more:

“This has been quite a ride,” said DJ Muller, founder and president/CEO. “We’ve not only kept up with the speed of technology, we’ve been ahead of it all the way. WebLink is in an excellent position to continue to grow and succeed in the years ahead.”

“Built on innovation and exceptional customer service, WebLink is a seasoned technology company that runs like an entrepreneurial start up,” said Scott Webber, board member. “They’ve always had the ingredients of a burgeoning technology company.”

A brief history
WebLink began as a provider of software specifically designed for chambers of commerce. The company has since expanded to serve all types of associations, including builders and contractors, housing, healthcare, hospitality, trade, and transportation, and today, has clients in 490 cities and four countries.

Its signature association management software, WebLink Connect™, has more than 15,000 users and 10 million profiles. More than 170 new features were released to the software in the last year, which enables clients to manage members, prospects, events, websites, finances, and communications—all in one place. A new online community for users will be launched later this month.

The company also offers a slate of webinars, eBooks and other online resources, training events, and a certification program.

Today, approximately 800 member-based organizations, more than half of which are chambers of commerce, use WebLink’s cloud-based software-as-a-service solution. The company boasts an astonishing year-to-year average customer retention rate of 94 percent and customer satisfaction rating of 95 percent.

A strong tech neighborhood
WebLink is active in a strong and growing neighborhood of technology providers. High-tech software and services employment grew 18 percent in Indianapolis from 2012 to 2014—the eighth-fastest rate among the 30 cities surveyed. Multiple marketing and technology companies, including Salesforce and Appirio, have recently announced relocations or expansions into the area.

“It’s great to be in a hub of innovation,” said Muller. “Being close to and working with other marketing and technology companies keeps us on our toes and always looking ahead.”

Recent growth
The company grew new customer sales by 63 percent in 2014, earning a coveted TechPoint MIRA Award in Tech Sales and Marketing. Last year, WebLink secured $1.54 million of funding to expand into trade and professional association markets and further its position as a premier provider of association management software.

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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