Grab Attention Quickly or Else

How much time do you have to get the attention of readers — particularly in today’s digital world? The simple answer: Not much.

Thanks to Wylie Communications (Ann Wylie is a top trainer in addition to running her own company) for the following:

In the mid-20th century, communication theorist Clay Schoenfeld suggested a 30-3-30 rule for reader attention. As in:

  • 30 minutes: These folks re readers, and don’t we wish there were more of them
  • 3 minutes: They’re not reading the text. Instead, they’re flipping, skimming and scanning for key ideas
  • 30 seconds: These folks are lookers. They’ll learn whatever they can through an image and a bold headline

Today’s reality, according to Microsoft Research, is that web visitors:

  • Decide whether to stay on a page within 10 seconds
  • Are likely to stay longer if they make it over the 30-second hump
  • At that point, may stay as long as two minutes or more

Ann’s advice: The good news is you may be able to move these folks up the ladder of attention. If the 10-second view is interesting enough, you might turn a looker into a skimmer. if the display copy reveals real value, you might turn a skimmer into a reader.

But event if you don’t move visitors up the attention ladder, you need to reach each group where they are. You need to write for all your readers.

Making the ‘Magic’ Happen in Vegas

cDear technology,
I love you. I love you not.

Technology often strikes me as more foe than friend, like when the Internet is down or an automated operator makes me jump through hoops as I try to pay a bill. Still, I can’t help but appreciate – and marvel at – the cutting-edge inventions that are changing life as we know it.

My jaw dropped more than once, for instance, while reading this Time story written during the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), a four-day technology extravaganza that wrapped up last week in Las Vegas.

Among the mind-boggling technology zooming our way: self-driving cars!

Audi pulled a stunt in which it got what it calls a “piloted car” (it shies away from “driverless”) from San Francisco to Vegas in time for the show. Mercedes CEO Dietrich Zetsche showed off a bullet-shaped autonomous concept car with a cabin that’s more like a living room than a car. Audi presented a smartwatch app that can signal your car to drive itself out of your garage and come pick you up.

And feast your eyes (or gums) on this gadget:

Some of the most fun stuff at CES is also the downright strangest. Oral-B’s Bluetooth-enabled toothbrush syncs up with a smartwatch app in an effort to help consumers brush better.

Sometimes, fact really is stranger than fiction.

Regional Power: New Initiative to Help Leverage Core Cities for Regional Growth

IGov. Mike Pence recently allocated a total of $84 million in the 2016-17 budgets to help fund the Regional Cities Initiative. Led by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, the plan will take what the organization learned by consulting 11 economically successful cities of varying sizes in the U.S. to help Indiana’s regions develop their own approaches to increasing economic growth.

While the state is helping, each region will be allowed to autonomously craft its own approach — and define what areas each region encompasses, for that matter.

I had the privilege of writing about this innovative concept in our latest BizVoice magazine. State officials hope this will help Indiana’s cities and nearby rural areas thrive by enhancing many factors, most notably “quality of place.”

Legislative Session Begins; State Budget Will Dominate

statehouse picHow will the money be prioritized? That’s the overriding question as lawmakers return to the Indiana General Assembly today to start work on a new two-year state budget.

The Indiana Chamber will be pushing for substantially more dollars for an expanded education-based preschool program for low-income families.

Prudent financial decisions are necessary in budget sessions but so too is investing where it makes great sense. The current five-county preschool pilot program is inadequate. Indiana has too many children entering kindergarten unprepared to learn. The need is further underscored by the 1,800 applicants for the 450 slots in the pilot program.

The Indiana Chamber will also will be advocating for the state budget to include funding for workforce training with increased designations for high wage career areas, like those in science, technology, engineering and math.

In other education matters, the Indiana Chamber has a longstanding policy of making the state superintendent of public instruction an appointed position and will be seeking to start that on course to becoming reality.

While the political challenges are obvious, we are encouraged that legislative leaders recognize that something has to change. At a minimum, there is consensus for some level of surety that the State Board of Education will function more smoothly and stay on task.

The Governor’s proposal of letting the State Board of Education elect its own chair is a concept the Indiana Chamber can endorse and would be a good starting point if making the superintendent an appointed position is unable to prevail this session.

In the tax arena, there appears to be strong interest among the General Assembly to provide relief to small business personal property tax filers. Indeed, the Commission on Business Taxation has voiced its support for getting rid of the tax for these users. And that’s what the Indiana Chamber wants to see happen.

The current process is time-consuming and ineffective. All sides would come out ahead with a small business exemption. Much effort is spent by small businesses and their local governments on these returns. And for what? The tax liability often averages between only $10 and $50 per small business. In total, these returns come to a mere 1% of the overall business personal property tax collected.

Read about the Indiana Chamber’s top legislative priorities as well as additional areas of focus for the 2015 legislative session.

Growing Strong at Noblesville’s SMC

10295185_649652505143607_8886419329462044533_oSMC Corporation of America is the U.S. subsidiary – based in Noblesville – of a Japanese-based company specializing in the manufacturing of pneumatic devices. Think actuators, valves, connectors, temperature control equipment and more.

Business is good. So good that the organization is looking to expand its sales force – in a serious way. During a recent conversation with the Indiana Chamber member, I was told the company is planning a dormitory on campus to educate and train those new salespersons over a six-month period.

SMC looks to expand on its 800 employees already in Indiana. In addition, the company is heavily involved in a promising internship program that places Noblesville High School students into the workplace to gain hands-on experience.

Congratulations on all the good work at SMC and continued success.

On Tap in ’15: Road Funding, Sunday Alcohol Sales and 21st Century Fund

Republican supermajorities and the biennial budget will be the context for all issues during the 2015 Indiana General Assembly, as a two-year budget must be passed and any caucus with 71 members (e.g., House Republicans) inevitably will have its internal disagreements. But, in the areas of economic development and infrastructure, another contextual factor will be a major road funding study by the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) due in summer 2015 – after the Legislature has adjourned.

This INDOT study will examine existing fuel excise taxes, their future revenue potential and alternative funding mechanisms and revenue streams, such as vehicle miles traveled (VMT) or tolling. The study will provide a tool to address an acknowledged $750 million annual funding gap between current revenues and identified maintenance needs, let alone any new projects (such as third lanes on congested portions of Indiana interstates).

Legislative leadership and fiscal and transportation policy experts within the General Assembly seem content to await the results of the INDOT study before pursuing any significant changes to the way Indiana funds its roads, bridges and highways. Nevertheless, in the 2015 session we expect issues such as fees for electric or alternative-fuel vehicles to be addressed; examination of using more revenue from the 7% sales tax on gasoline for the state’s highway fund; and a discussion of indexing fuel taxes for inflation.

The INDOT study follows a report by the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Transportation Infrastructure identifying a set of priority projects and laying out a long-term vision for surface transportation infrastructure across Indiana. This report includes recommendations for waterborne, air and rail commerce that may be taken up by the General Assembly, including the creation of dedicated funds for these important modes of transportation.

Likewise, while the final segment of Interstate 69 has yet to undergo regulatory review and be announced, current law prevents it from running through Perry Township in Marion County as an option; we expect legislation to remove that prohibition to be introduced. We also expect investment in next-generation telecommunications infrastructure to be addressed through legislation that streamlines zoning and regulatory approvals, seeking to make them less cumbersome and more consistent across different political jurisdictions within the state.

In the area of economic development, many items will be discussed. Along with continued reform of Indiana’s business personal property tax, other anticipated issues include: examination of tax increment financing (TIF) districts; repealing Indiana’s ban on the Sunday sales of alcohol; increasing production limits on craft breweries; renewal and reform of the state’s 21st Century Fund; film production incentives; and review of both the existing patent-derived income tax exemption and the state’s venture capital tax credit.

Indeed, we expect a major thrust for fiscal leaders this session to be a re-examination of many of the state’s existing economic development programs and tax provisions, as well as discussion of a new Regional Cities Initiative by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation and the Pence administration.

Given mixed economic signals and the continued emphasis on job creation, we anticipate it will be a very busy session.

Dialing Change Coming Early in 2015

119905820We, and many others, have told you about the new area code coming to the southern third of our state. The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, and its IN 812 industry group, prepared the following update (including effective dates and equipment upgrade procedures, if necessary) for Indiana Chamber members and the broader community.

To ensure a continuing supply of telephone numbers, the new 930 area code will be added to the area served by 812. The new 930 area code will serve the same geographic area currently served by the existing 812 area code, which generally covers the southern third of the state of Indiana serving communities such as Bloomington, Columbus, Evansville, New Albany and Terre Haute. This is known as an area code overlay.

What is an area code overlay?
An overlay is the addition of another area code (930) to the same geographic region as an existing area code (812). An overlay does not require customers to change their existing area code.

How does this affect Chamber members?
As a result of the overlay, a new local dialing procedure requires callers to dial area code + telephone number. This means that all local calls in the 812 area code that are currently dialed with seven digits will need to be dialed using area code + telephone number.

Chamber members that have services and equipment currently located in the 812 area code and programmed to dial only seven digits must be updated or reprogrammed to dial area code + telephone number for all calls in the 812/930 area code.

What will be the new dialing procedure?
To complete local calls, the new dialing procedure requires callers to dial area code + telephone number. This means that all calls in the 812 area code that are currently dialed with seven digits will need to be dialed using area code + telephone number. The same dialing procedure will apply to telephone numbers assigned to the new 930 area code.

When will the change begin?
Beginning February 7, 2015, you must use the new dialing procedures, as described above for all calls. After this date, if you do not use the new dialing procedures, your calls will not be completed and a recording will instruct you to hang up and dial again.

Reprogramming of alarm equipment should take place between March 1, 2014 and February 7, 2015. This period allows either the old or new dialing procedure to be used to complete calls. All chamber members must make their programming changes during this period.

To enable you to verify that equipment can complete calls to the new 930 area code, a special test number, 930-930-1930, will be in service beginning July 7, 2014 and it will remain active through April 7, 2015.

Beginning March 7, 2015, new telephone lines or services may be assigned numbers using the new 930 area code.

What will remain the same?
• Your telephone number, including current area code, will not change.
• The price of a call, coverage area, or other rates and services will not change due to the overlay.
• What is a local call now will remain a local call regardless of the number of digits dialed.
• You can still dial just three digits to reach 911.
• If 211, 311, 411, 511, 611, 711 or 811 are currently available in your community, you will still dial these codes with just three digits.

Who may you contact with questions?
Customers with questions about the dialing procedure change should be directed to their local service provider, or they can visit the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) web site.

NY Times Poll: Americans Speak Out

One may not always agree with the politics of The New York Times, but its stature and credibility can rarely be questioned. A recent public poll conducted by the newspaper revealed some sobering results, such as:

  • Only 64% of respondents saying they still believe in the American dream. This was the lowest result in nearly two decades.
  • 54% said that “over-regulation that may interfere with economic growth” was a bigger problem than “too little regulation that may create an unequal distribution of wealth (38%).”
  • Only 52% think the country’s economic system is fair.
  • More than 75% are concerned about having enough money for retirement
  • 70% view the stock market as “risky,” down from 79% in 2008. 52% think the stock market unfairly benefits rich investors at the expense of average Americans
  • Nearly 90% are concerned that their personal information may be stolen. 40% stopped an online purchase because of security concerns.

Work Share Program Needed in Indiana

Right now, state lawmakers and their staff are drafting bills for introduction and molding strategies for the opening of the Indiana General Assembly only three weeks away. One of the most important things they can do is to enact a work share program for the state.

Work Share, or short-term compensation as it is sometimes called, is a voluntary and cost equivalent alternative to traditional unemployment benefits.

In lieu of laying off a number of employees during an economic downturn, an employer elects to retain those employees and reduce the hours of employees of a particular group or department. Those employees are then permitted to draw a partial unemployment compensation benefit based upon the hours reduced.

Employers are able to maintain a skilled and stable workforce while employees are able to keep their jobs and benefits instead of facing unemployment and economic ruin. The state wins by reducing the number of job losses. Taxpayers win in keeping jobs in place with no net increase in unemployment insurance costs.

Work share is an innovative, win-win program now in place in 26 states, but not yet in Indiana. State legislators need to hear from employers and citizens alike right now to urge them to seriously consider and enact a work share program in the next few months.

Please take a moment to send a message to your own state legislators urging them to move forward and establish a work share program in 2015. Simply visit the Indiana Chamber’s online grassroots center to send an email message to your legislators.

 

Free Trade Zones By the Numbers

Site Selection breaks down America’s free trade zones into two types of activity: merchandise received and exports. A few findings:

  • Indiana is eighth in the exports category and 14th in merchandise received
  • Texas and Louisiana are 1-2 in both categories. Three through five in exports are South Carolina, Mississippi and Florida, respectively. For merchandise received, it’s Tennessee, California and Kentucky.
  • For exports by individual zone, here’s the top five: Brownsville, Texas; El Paso, Texas; Broward County, Florida; Knoxville Tennessee; and Atlanta.
  • In merchandise received, the top five are: Memphis; Gramercy, Louisiana; Baltimore, Harris County, Texas; and Dallas/Fort Worth. Indianapolis trade zone 72 is 11th on the list.