Key Workforce Development Legislation Still a Work-in-Progress

In the Indiana General Assembly, both House Bill 1002 and Senate Bill 50 have been significantly amended in ways that we support, but also in ways that give us some concern. We have strong support for the thoughtful and deliberate work on the study by the Legislative Service Agency of all workforce programs. It is extremely thorough and we look forward to the results of each year’s report and presentation. We also support the language regarding the Next Level Jobs Employer Training Grant program. The career and technical education (CTE) student information portal for local employers is a prime example of a creative model without having to spend extra capital. And we also support expanding the Employment Aid Readiness Network (EARN) Indiana program to include part-time students.

We hope to continue the conversation on the makeup of the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet in conference committee and have some questions as to how this will work in conjunction with the State Workforce Innovation Council (SWIC), a similar existing cabinet that is required to have its membership be 50% employers. We appreciate the language in the bill allowing the Indiana Chamber to be consulted with on a gubernatorial appointment for a business leader to the panel; however, we question why we cannot simply utilize the SWIC.

If we are tied to the idea of creating a new cabinet, we feel strongly that we should have more employer voices at the table, plus give the Indiana Chamber a seat as well. The Chamber’s place on the cabinet would provide historical knowledge on workforce issues, representing the voices of thousands of members and investors throughout the state and providing consistency when we have a new Governor who would make the majority of the appointees (be they employers or agency heads).

In close, though these bills are better and moving in the right direction, they still need work. The Chamber will continue to advocate for strong policies throughout conference committee.

Record 125 Companies Named Best Places to Work in Indiana

Best Places to Work in Indiana

A record number of Hoosier companies – 125 in total – have been named to the 2018 Best Places to Work in Indiana list.

“We have many tremendous employers in the state, so it’s great to see more and more companies take part in this effort to evaluate their workplace cultures and gain the recognition they deserve,” offers Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar.”

“These organizations come from a wide variety of industries yet they all have a common thread. They continually demonstrate to their employees through their culture, communication, career opportunities, benefits and more how much they value their contributions.”

Read the press release here.

The actual rankings for the companies will be unveiled at a May 3 awards dinner at the Indiana Convention Center (Sagamore Ballroom) in downtown Indianapolis. Individual tickets and tables of 10 are available at

Companies were determined through employer reports and comprehensive employee surveys. The Best Companies Group, which handled the selection process, oversees similar programs in 25 other states.

Winners were selected from four categories: small companies of between 15 and 74 U.S. employees; medium companies of between 75 and 249 U.S. employees; large companies of between 250 and 999 U.S. employees; and major companies with 1,000 or more U.S. employees. Out-of-state parent companies were eligible to participate if at least 15 full-time employees are in Indiana.

All companies that participated in the 2018 Best Places to Work program receive an in-depth evaluation identifying strengths and weaknesses according to their employees. In turn, this report can be used in developing or enhancing employee retention and recruitment programs.

Organizations on this year’s list that have displayed sustained excellence during the program’s 13-year history receive additional recognition.

Hall of Fame companies are those that have been named a Best Place to Work in Indiana at least 60% of the time in the program’s history; a total of 19 organizations on the 2018 list meet that criteria. Two companies – Edward Jones and Katz, Sapper & Miller – have made the Best Places to Work list all 13 years of the program.

For more information on the Best Places to Work program, go to

The 2018 Best Places to Work in Indiana companies listed in alphabetical order, no ranking:

*Hall of Fame companies

Small Companies (15-74 U.S. employees) (57)
Company / Primary Indiana Location

Accutech Systems / Muncie
* Apex Benefits / Indianapolis
Bedel Financial Consulting, Inc.  / Indianapolis
Big City Cars / Fort Wayne
BLASTmedia / Fishers
Bloomerang / Indianapolis
BlueSky Technology Partners / Noblesville
Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP) / Indianapolis
Brite Systems / Indianapolis
CENTURY 21 Scheetz / Multiple locations
CleanSlate Technology Group / Carmel
ClearObject, Inc. / Fishers
Clinical Architecture / Carmel
Community First Bank of Indiana / Kokomo
* Cripe / Indianapolis
DK Pierce and Associates / Zionsville
eimagine / Indianapolis
* FirstPerson / Indianapolis
General Insurance Services / Michigan City
Goelzer Investment Management, Inc. / Indianapolis
Greenlight Guru / Indianapolis
Grote Automotive / Fort Wayne
Guidon Design / Indianapolis
Hamilton County Tourism / Carmel
Hanapin Marketing / Bloomington
* Indesign, LLC / Indianapolis
Inovateus Solar LLC / South Bend
Insurance Management Group / Marion
JA Benefits, LLC / Bedford
Jackson Systems / Indianapolis
Lakeside Wealth Management / Chesterton
Leaf Software Solutions / Carmel
LHD Benefit Advisors / Indianapolis
mAccounting, LLC / Indianapolis
Magnum Logistics / Plainfield
Merritt Contracting / Lebanon
netlogx LLC / Indianapolis
Nix Companies / Poseyville
OfficeWorks / Indianapolis
OrthoPediatrics / Warsaw
Peepers by PeeperSpecs / Michigan City
Pondurance / Indianapolis
Probo Medical / Fishers
Public Safety Medical / Indianapolis
RESOURCE Commercial Real Estate / Indianapolis
RQAW  / Indianapolis
Sharpen Technologies Inc. / Indianapolis
Sigstr / Indianapolis
Springbuk / Indianapolis
T&W Corporation / Indianapolis
That’s Good HR / Indianapolis
The Garrett Companies / Greenwood
The Skillman Corporation / Indianapolis
University High School of Indiana / Carmel
Visit Indy / Indianapolis
VOSS Automotive / Fort Wayne
Wessler Engineering / Indianapolis

Medium Companies (75-249 U.S. employees) (30)
Company / Primary Indiana Location

American College of Education / Indianapolis
Blue Horseshoe / Carmel
Butler, Fairman & Seufert, Inc. / Indianapolis
CREA, LLC / Indianapolis
* E-gineering / Indianapolis
* Elements Financial Federal Credit Union / Indianapolis
Emarsys North America / Indianapolis
Envelop Group / Indianapolis
ESCO Communications / Indianapolis
First Internet Bank / Fishers
Formstack / Indianapolis
Fort Wayne Rescue Mission Ministries, Inc (DBA The Rescue Mission) / Fort Wayne
Gregory & Appel Insurance / Indianapolis
HWC Engineering, Inc. / Indianapolis
IDSolutions / Noblesville
J.C. Hart Company, Inc. / Carmel
Lessonly / Indianapolis
Merchants Bank of Indiana and PR Mortgage & Investments / Carmel
Midwest Mole / Greenfield
Morales Group, Inc. / Indianapolis
Moser Consulting / Indianapolis
Oak Street Funding LLC / Indianapolis
Parkview Wabash Hospital / Wabash
Peoples Bank SB / Munster
* Schmidt Associates, Inc. / Indianapolis
* Software Engineering Professionals (SEP) / Carmel
United Consulting Engineers / Indianapolis
United Way of Central Indiana / Indianapolis
Visiting Nurse and Hospice of the Wabash Valley / Terre Haute
Weddle Bros. Construction Co., Inc. / Bloomington

Large Companies (250-999 U.S. employees) (25)
Company / Primary Indiana Location

Aluminum Trailer Company / Nappanee
American Structurepoint, Inc. / Indianapolis
Appirio, A Wipro Company / Indianapolis
Bastian Solutions / Indianapolis
Blue 449 / Indianapolis
* Blue & Co., LLC / Carmel
* Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company / Fort Wayne
Carbonite / Indianapolis
* Centier Bank / Merrillville
* FORUM Credit Union / Fishers
Hylant / Multiple locations
IPMG / West Lafayette
* Katz, Sapper & Miller / Indianapolis
Kemper CPA Group LLP / Multiple locations
* Monarch Beverage / Indianapolis
MutualBank / Muncie
Onebridge / Indianapolis
Ontario Systems / Muncie
Pacers Sports & Entertainment / Indianapolis
Parkview Huntington Hospital / Huntington
Parkview Noble Hospital / Kendallville
Parkview Whitley Hospital / Columbia City
Sikich / Indianapolis
The Kendall Group / Fort Wayne
* WestPoint Financial Group / Indianapolis

Major Companies (1,000+ U.S. employees) (13)
Company / Primary Indiana Location

Aerotek / Multiple locations
Ameristar Casino + Hotel East Chicago / East Chicago
* Capital Group / Carmel
CareSource / Indianapolis
Colliers International / Indianapolis
Comcast Corporation / Indianapolis
* Edward Jones / Multiple locations
First Merchants Bank / Muncie
* Horseshoe Casino / Hammond
Kronos Incorporated / Indianapolis
Perficient / Carmel
* Salesforce / Indianapolis
Total Quality Logistics / Indianapolis

Tech Talk: Catching Up on Some Conversations


Two of the focus areas of the Indiana Chamber’s EchoChamber podcast are education and technology. Both take center stage in the early months of 2018.

Two conversations – with Marian University President Dan Elsener and WGU Indiana Chancellor Allison Barber – are available now. Three more to come feature Trine University President Earl Brooks (January 30), Salesforce Marketing Cloud CEO Bob Stutz (date to be scheduled) and South Bend’s Rich Carlton, president and COO of Data Realty (February 27).

Innovation is one of the themes that carries throughout these discussions. Elsener was greeted with a great deal of skepticism when he announced plans to start a medical school at the private Indianapolis university. Its first graduates came in 2017. That is among a variety of initiatives that has Marian well on the way to doubling in size by 2025.

WGU Indiana brought a new online, competency-based approach when it became the state’s eighth public university in 2010. It offers an avenue for working students (80% are employed full time) to advance their skills and earn bachelor’s or master’s degrees. Trine has expanded its academic and athletic offerings, with significant growth both geographically and in enrollment.

Stutz has touted Indiana’s tech environment since his arrival in 2016. Carlton is passionate about data management and community development. We know you will enjoy their insights and getting to know them a little better.

You can listen to all EchoChamber conversations online. Subscribe at iTunes, GooglePlay or wherever you get your podcasts to be notified about the latest episode. Also, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts.

Trying to Attract the Tourists

Unique tourism campaigns are nothing new. Governing magazine recently highlighted several:

As the saying goes, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. That’s exactly what South Dakota did with a new tourism approach a few years ago.

After hearing from focus groups across the country that the Dakotas were nothing more than a “barren wasteland,” the state tourism agency came up with a unique campaign angle: At least we’re not Mars, an actual barren wasteland.

The voiceover in a TV ad says: “Mars. The air: not breathable. The surface: cold and barren. … South Dakota. Progressive. Productive. And abundant in oxygen. Why die on Mars when you can live in South Dakota?”

Their efforts may have paid off: The state has had a record number of tourists in the past two years. 

Instagram on the Road

Last year, Minnesota decided to tackle the perception that the state is just a cold, snowy place by bringing its attractions to you. Really.

Explore Minnesota Tourism, the state’s tourism committee, created traveling photo booths featuring two of the state’s main attractions: the First Avenue music club, which was featured in the 1984 Prince movie Purple Rain, and scenes of the Minnesota outdoors.

The state set up the booths in cities across the country, ranging from Denver to Chicago to Kansas City, and modeled them after Instagram to encourage people to share their photos on social media.

The Prince booth came complete with a fog machine, purple lighting and a drum kit, while the other booth featured a canoe and a machine that generated morning mist and bird calls.

Come Get an Operation

San Diego doesn’t need to do much to convince people to visit: It has legendary beaches, a world-famous zoo and plenty of sunshine. Even so, the city is now betting it can convince tourists to get that elective surgery they’ve always wanted in between getting a tan or frolicking on the beach.

In 2017, city leaders launched DestinationCare San Diego, a public-private partnership to get more tourists to think of San Diego as a place to get medical care — and recover afterwards. The city hopes to compete with world-renowned medical destinations like the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota or the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

The city does have a strong medical sector. It’s home to the University of California health systems and Rady Children’s Hospital, which is ranked one of the best children’s hospitals in the country.

Freelancing Frenzy to Continue

(Originally published in

In the coming decade, the majority of workers in the U.S. are expected to be freelancers, according to a report from Edelman Intelligence.

The study surveyed 6,000 U.S. workers to determine changing working patterns and the impact freelancing will have on the future of working and employment practices in the U.S. This trend is being driven by the millennial generation, of which 47% currently freelance.

Technology is playing a huge role in changing workplace practices and ushering in the rise of freelancing, says Amy Sept, managing editor of the Upwork blog. According to the survey, 71% of freelancers said the work they acquired online has increased during the past year.

Despite income predictability being perceived as a barrier to freelancing, the report found 63% of freelancers believe working for a range of different clients, and therefore generating multiple income streams, is more secure than relying on one employer. Freelancers, on average, have 4.5 clients every month.

Savvy freelancers are also looking to the future, keen to learn new skills. The report found that 55% of freelancers took part in skills-related training, compared to just 30% of non-freelancers.

Airbnb’s Top Indiana Cities Revealed

In late 2017, Indianapolis was identified as a top trending American city for Airbnb. The company also announced that Indiana hosts welcomed approximately 175,000 arrivals in the past year – earning more than $20.7 million.

The 175,000 guest arrivals to Indiana via Airbnb represents 108% year-over-year growth. This comes as “Hoosiers increasingly embrace the home sharing platform as an opportunity to earn supplemental income and make ends meet.” There are now just under 3,600 Indiana hosts who share their homes via Airbnb, 37% of whom simply share an extra, unused room (i.e. empty nester).

The top Airbnb markets in Indiana in 2017:

  1. Indianapolis: 73,000 guest arrivals; $8.42 million in host income
  2. South Bend: 20,000; $2.89 million
  3. Bloomington: 16,800; $1.87 million
  4. Michigan City: 5,700; $867,300
  5. Fort Wayne: 4,250; $437,900
  6. West Lafayette: 3,050; $311,350
  7. Lafayette: 3,050; $383,500
  8. Nashville: 1,950; $207,700
  9. Fishers: 1,800; $200,600
  10. Evansville: 1,670; $163,700

Room to Improve in Financial Literacy

Financial literacy

Indiana receives a “C” on a report card evaluating how well high school students are taught financial skills.

The Center for Financial Literacy at Champlain College issued the report card on how well the 50 states are doing at sending students out into the world knowing the basics of personal finance. John Pelletier, director of the Center, said while high school students need to know how to handle things such as checking accounts, investing and credit cards, if they plan on going to college, they will also need to know how a student loan works.

“Two-thirds or more of all students across the country are graduating with student debt, and yet we’re not giving them the skills and the foundational knowledge they need to handle that debt responsibly,” Pelletier said. “I think we kind of have a moral obligation to do that as a country.”

The report gave fewer than half the states the highest grades – an A or a B – for their financial curriculum, while 27 states earned a C, D or an F. Pelletier said states that earned the top grade require high school students to complete a comprehensive, stand-alone course on financial literacy.

He said only five states earned an A.

Pelletier said the Center’s studies found that many people reach a point in life where they wish they had learned more about handling money when they were younger.

“They’re asked about things that they wish they had been taught when they were in high school – many of them talk about personal finance,” he said. “So I think people regret this much younger than in their 40s or 50s. It can be a regret in their 30s, because we all make financial decisions that impact us.”

Pelletier said the study shows financial literacy is linked to positive outcomes such as wealth accumulation, stock market participation, retirement planning and avoiding high-cost financial services such as payday lending and auto title loans.

Maryland Puts Focus on Computer Science

One of the Indiana Chamber’s top legislative priorities for 2018 is to increase computer science (CS) requirements for K-12 students. In Maryland, several similar initiatives are taking place.

Governor Larry Hogan kicked off “Achieving Computer Science Collaborations for Employing Students Statewide” (ACCESS) just a few months after signing on for Governors for Computer Science, a partnership of state leaders that have committed to increasing access to K-12 CS education.

By executive order and proposed legislation, the governor hopes to improve job readiness for graduates and draw a more diversified workforce to computing jobs.

Currently, according to the governor’s office, Maryland has 115,000 CS-related jobs in-state, with almost 20,000 openings. Demand for CS workers is expected to grow by another 12 percent over the next decade. Yet, state colleges and universities graduated fewer than 3,000 CS majors in 2015, just a fifth of whom were female.

Maryland is home to several cyber-related federal government agencies and military installations, including the National Security Agency, the U.S. Cyber Command and the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence. The state has 1,200 private sector cybersecurity companies. And 17 Maryland universities, colleges and community colleges have been designated as national centers of academic excellence in cyber defense.

Governor Hogan’s Executive Order requested that the state’s Task Force on Cybersecurity and Information Technology study the development of pathways that meet targeted workforce needs in computing fields and identify new ways to promote gender and minority equity in the STEM and IT workforce. A report on the findings will be due in June 2018.

The governor also announced that he would support legislation during the 2018 General Assembly session to implement computer science standards statewide for K-12 students. The administration said it would work with the state’s teachers as well representatives from higher education and computer science organizations to develop those.

Additionally, the governor will be allocating $5 million to fund teacher professional development in CS and offer grants to districts and schools to create training models and equipment.

The governor also said his office would team up with Girls Who Code to launch the challenge, which would promote partnerships among state and local leaders, school districts, community organizations and industry to launch new clubs statewide. These clubs offer free after-school programs that allow female students in grades 6-12 grade to learn and apply CS to help their communities with the support of peers and role models.

Four Big Bad Sales Myths of 2018

Justin Jones, co-founder of the sales consulting firm Somersault Innovation, offers this perspective on approaching the sales profession in 2018.

Myth #1: Expertise is the Source of Our Credibility. Most of us are all too eager to demonstrate our product and business knowledge and quickly take control of a customer interaction to demonstrate expertise. We believe this will help our clients trust and buy from us. However, as Amy Cuddy finds in her recent book, Presence, competence is only part of what compels trust. And, it’s the lesser part!

Before clients consider our competence or expertise there’s something else they’re looking for: they’re looking for warmth. Are we real? Are we authentic? Unfortunately, the more we hammer our amazing expertise, the less authentic we appear.

I spoke the other day with an account management team from a leading mortgage technology firm, and here is how they approached a recent client meeting. They went in without an agenda except to talk with the customer about their business. The client responded by openly sharing information about two key initiatives that led to new opportunities. The team reported their delight in what felt like a “natural,” and “authentic” meeting and were eager to experiment with more clients.

Give less weight to expertise in your next meeting and see what happens.  

Myth #2: The Customer is Always Right. Today, our customers are much further along in their buying decision by the time we talk to them. This makes our job a lot harder because, thanks to many online resources, customers are much better informed and often have their eyes on a specific solution. But that doesn’t make them right, no matter how sophisticated a buyer they are.

If we slip into order-taking mode, we end up in commodity-ville, talking about a limited solution that can be easily compared to the competition.  However, if we press for more discovery we’re almost certain to find that the client’s definition of the problem is limited, or even incorrect. To the extent we can reframe the customer’s certainty and fixation, we graduate from “problem-solver” – just like every other vendor who calls on them –  to the more coveted and differentiated “problem finder” role.

Myth # 3: Big Data Will Save Us. The benefits of Big Data are all around us. AI and predictive analytics are already being used to make our lives easier. After clicking only once on an ad for online bedding retailer Brooklinen, they showed up on every site I frequent, making it easy to build a relationship, and, yes, place an order. Many of our clients are likewise experimenting with this technology to identify leads.

While this functionality is fantastic, we see it leading too often to limited engagements. Sales people are over-relying on data to close ready-made deals. In a fashion, they’re combining this myth with the previous two: they leverage data to quickly demonstrate their expertise in the specified areas and make a wrong assumption about the customer’s problem. The promise of big data is real, but only insofar as it’s used to enable greater problem finding – not quicker problem solving and selling.

Myth # 4: Focusing on Numbers Will Drive Revenue. This last myth is pervasive among both sales people and their managers. I understand the power of the maxim ‘What gets measured gets done.’ But we’ve taken this to an extreme such that sales managers and their teams spend an inordinate amount of time and emotional calories reporting on their pipelines. The unintended consequence: sales becomes dumbed down into a revenue drone. It’s no longer about our customers and the interesting things they’re doing with their businesses and how we can help them.

It’s about delivering our numbers – or at least paying lip service to doing so. The remedy for sales managers is as simple as asking your teams about the interesting things they’re seeing in their accounts. What’s something new they’ve learned from a customer? Which accounts are they feeling excited about and why? You’ll have a much clearer picture about progress in each account, and you’ll open up your conversations toward what really matters: how your business can help your clients solve their problems.

10 Gifts Great Leaders Give

Kris Taylor of K Taylor & Associates in Lafayette authored this holiday post as part of her Evergreen Leadership program. The “gifts” apply no matter the time of year.

I’ve worked with great leaders, mediocre leaders and one or two really poor leaders. I’ve done my work, to the best of my ability, with all of them. I’ve learned from all of them. Yet in reflecting back, the really great leaders gave me many great gifts.

These are the gifts that last over time. They are not very tangible but are always present. They’re gifts that altered the way I saw myself, or my situation, or the world around me – gifts that stuck, that keep on giving.

 I am eternally blessed by and grateful for these gifts.

  1. Confidence in my abilities, my potential, my judgment and my integrity
  2. Wisdom by sharing freely their truths, experiences and knowledge
  3. Mentoring and coaching to guide me to a better place, always challenging, at times seeing more in me than I could see myself
  4. Opportunities to test my skills and learn new ones, ones that pushed me further than I was comfortable with at the time
  5. Support for when I failed myself or others
  6. Unconditional respect even at my worst times
  7. Perspective and vision, especially when I wallowed in my narrow view of the situation
  8. Courage to do the things that are right, but not necessarily easy
  9. Focus on results insisting that I follow through, do what I was charged to do and to find ways to overcome the inevitable obstacles
  10. Navigation through the organization, helping me learn how these people in this place get work done

My challenge is this: rather than giving “things” this year, which of these 10 gifts might you give at work? At home? In your community?