Foreign Investment Pays Off in Jobs

The Indiana Chamber has touted the advantages of foreign-owned establishments numerous times over the years. A new study looks at jobs generated by the foreign investment in the largest U.S. metro areas over the past 20 years.

In 1991, Indianapolis ranked 36th nationally with 21,190 jobs tied to foreign direct investment. In 2011, those numbers improved to a 22nd-place ranking and 49,910 jobs.

How about industries and locations? Aircraft products and parts topped the 2011 list (thanks largely to Rolls Royce), accounting for 7,600 jobs. Motor vehicle parts followed with 4,800 jobs. In line with those numbers, London and Tokyo, respectively, were the leading global cities serving as home for the Indianapolis-area investment.

The Brookings Institutions and JPMorgan Chase combined efforts on the research.

Interesting Trends Anticipated for This Year’s Back to School Shopping

As the oldest in a family of five children, the end of July always heralded the beginning of the dreaded, chaotic Back to School (BTS) shopping. My mom would gather the lists our teachers provided us with at the end of the previous school year, pile us into the car and search the aisles of local stores boasting discounts.

At the end of the shopping spree, we would come home with bags containing an assortment of pens, notebooks, folders and binders that we would have to go through and separate for each sibling.

It’s that time of the year again, only (thankfully) I no longer have to accompany my mom on those trips, which could last hours. This year, more BTS shoppers have followed in my mom’s tradition of getting a jump start on the action. A survey commissioned by ICSC-Goldman Sachs found that 37% of consumers have already started shopping, compared to 29% who began at this time last year.

Ninety percent have indicated that they will purchase from brick-and-mortar retailers. According to the survey, “many retailers found in regional malls and open-air centers, such as office supply stores, traditional department stores, electronic stores and apparel specialty stores should see increased activity during the BTS season.”

Online shopping is expected to drop from 8.6% last year to 8.1% this year. Seventy-three percent of consumers said they will do research online and then buy their supplies from a physical store.

Average household spending on BTS items is expected to increase this year. Excluding electronics, expenditures are anticipated to be $325 per household, an increase from last year’s average of $285 per household.

This year’s Back to School shopping is still in its early phases. It will be interesting to see if the actual figures match up to the predicted ones.

It’s All About Innovation

Innovation (and workforce and a few other things) is the name of the game when it comes to Indiana business development. It’s featured throughout the Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 plan. And innovation will be the focus of a late August event.

Centric is an Indianapolis-based innovation think tank and networking group, with the goal of making the city (and beyond) a globally recognized center for innovation. The Indiana Innovation Awards strive to recognize innovation and excellence throughout the state. The two come together at Centric’s Day of Innovation on August 28.

To be nominated for the awards, an organization must have launched a product or service in the past three years that has shown success and is considered innovative in its market. Past Indiana Innovation Awards winners include Cultural Trail, TinderBox, Delta Faucet, Yikes, Brackets for Good, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and many others.

 

 

Company Perks — and the Employees They’re Meant For

Sometimes I get a little jealous when my husband comes home and tells me of some of the really impressive perks he gets by working at one of Indianapolis’ top technology companies — eight-time Best Places to Work in Indiana honoree Interactive Intelligence. Like the one day he got to end the workday with a cold beer and a cupcake (right?). Or the day he came into work and there was a blanket fort built above their cubicles (I made him send me a picture of that one). Or basically any of the days he goes into work in a t-shirt and shorts (what?).

I found this article from the Wall Street Journal about which employees some of these perks at technology companies are actually meant to entertain and keep around. It’s not the sales or marketing people, or the support staff – it’s the engineers.

A candid interview with the CEO of a Seattle-based realty and tech firm relays that the company knows what it needs to offer to attract the best talent – and extending those perks to the entire company ensures no bad blood forms. The CEO also notes that company-provided lunches are opportunities for the technology teams and the sales teams to get together and talk – which often means the tech people have a good idea of what types of technology products their co-workers need.

An interesting point the CEO brings up is that employees seem to get used to the perks … to the point of entitlement, even.

Each year, we recognize the state’s top employers through the Best Places to Work in Indiana program (attention: nominations are open for the 2015 program, through November 21). And every year we comb through the results of the employer questionnaires to put together profiles and interesting stories for BizVoice® magazine. There have been some really impressive perks noted along the way.

And while the afore-mentioned CEO brought up the issue of entitlement (which may very well be the case on the West Coast), I’ve spoken with many employees of the Best Places companies throughout the past four years and overall I get the sense of a humble gratitude for their employers providing the benefits and perks that they do. On the flip side, the employers also talk about how they are grateful to be able to provide happy and productive workplaces that are often centered on treating people well and supporting family-friendly environments.

If nothing else, it’s a good reminder not to take for granted any of the perks or benefits your company provides.

Don’t forget to apply for the 2015 Best Places to Work in Indiana program! Visit www.bestplacestoworkin.com for more information.

Billionaire Beginnings

Ralph Lauren is worth $7.7 billion. Oprah Winfrey’s empire has skyrocketed to $2.9 billion. They are among the mega-rich and regarded as celebrity royalty.

Their achievements are all the more inspiring when you consider how far they’ve come. Like others featured in a recent Business Insider post – “15 Billionaires Who Were Once Dirt Poor” – both overcame poverty.

Are you familiar with Howard Schultz? I wasn’t. At least that’s what I thought until I discovered that he runs Starbucks (I’m all too acquainted with the company’s lattes). In the piece, he recounts childhood memories residing in a complex for the poor:

Growing up I always felt like I was living on the other side of the tracks. I knew the people on the other side had more resources, more money, happier families. And for some reason, I don’t know why or how, I wanted to climb over that fence and achieve something beyond what people were saying was possible. I may have a suit and tie on now but I know where I’m from and I know what it’s like.

Today, he’s amassed $2 billion. Let me digest that.

Leonardo Del Vecchio’s story is one of the most poignant. As a child, he and four siblings were sent to live in an orphanage after their father died. While working in a factory, Del Vecchio lost part of his finger in an accident. In 1961, he founded Luxottica, the largest producer and retailer of sunglasses and prescription glasses in the world (think Ray-Bans). He’s now worth $15.3 billion.

Fortune may have smiled on these business legends, but their tremendous talent and determination paved the way.

ExactTarget Partnering With Mentoring Women’s Network to Pass the Torch for Women

ExactTarget employees are making the pledge to Pass the Torch for Women.

Mentoring Women’s Network is holding its Pass the Torch for Women event and luncheon on August 14 at Ivy Tech in Indianapolis. You can sign up online, and be sure to use the discount code INCHAMBER to receive $50 off the all-day ticket.

Life is Like a Team Sport

I admittedly have little knowledge about the game of soccer. I participated in a league for elementary students for a few years, but my experience mainly consisted of talking to teammates on the sidelines and partaking of the snacks before going home. I’m not even sure my foot ever made contact with the ball during a match.

In light of the recent World Cup matches, I came across an article posing the question: Is life more like baseball or soccer? The conclusion was that life mimics the team-oriented sport of soccer rather than the more-individualistic baseball. And while baseball is another sport that evades my complete comprehension, I found the argument compelling.

At Hanover College, where I’ll be a senior in the fall, we’re assigned to at least one group project in each of our business classes. During the first business class I took in college (and many of the subsequent ones I’ve completed), I received a speech on the team-oriented nature of business. Those of us who preferred individual work would have to adjust, because the success of an organization hinges on the collaboration of the individuals working within it.

The article is interesting because it asserts that even decisions we would consider purely personal—such as what career path to take, whom to socialize with and what values to hold—are actually influenced by the people around us, which makes sense. Our norms are determined by those we’re surrounded by.

Now, considering my lack of sports’ knowledge, I can’t truly comment on the soccer versus baseball argument, nor on Brazil’s loss to Germany (which seems to have inspired the article), but I appreciated the perspective on the team aspect of life and how influential our networks are. I think it’s something important to keep in mind, whether at work, school or simply with friends. Who we surround ourselves with and who we work with can play a major role in our lives.

Netflix Vs. Cable TV

Last fall, I studied off-campus in Philadelphia. The first week of the program, they sent us out into the city to find housing and furniture. By the end of that week, I did have roommates and an apartment, but we rented minimal furniture to save money. Our TV ended up being one that we found on the street. We propped it up on a cardboard box that slowly began to sag over the weeks, and often it was a gamble whether or not the picture came through.

Though we paid for cable, I ended up turning to Netflix during those few months. It was much simpler than fiddling with the old, boxy TV, and I liked being able to watch a whole series at my own pace.

This experience has made me curious about Netflix versus cable usage. A recent article on Mashable delved into this topic; specifically, looking into usage during the summer. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the article reveals that cable TV is still dominant.

Roughly 99% of U.S. households (which total about 115 million) have a TV, and 56% of those have cable. Netflix only has about 48 million members worldwide. Additionally, Netflix has not reported increased subscribership during the summer months. Its peak months are January through March and October through December. However, there is about a 30% increase in family and kids content viewing hours during the summer.

Now that I have a properly functioning TV, I am once again a happy cable TV viewer, while still a Netflix subscriber. In fact, when I returned home to Indiana in the winter, I had an entire lineup of TV shows recorded on the DVR to catch up on. So while I went a long period of time without watching cable, I know that I would not completely forgo it, either.

July/August BizVoice Building a Buzz

Today, we’re unveiling our July/August edition of BizVoice magazine.

And the headline is actually a joking nod to our cover story about drones… assuming they make some sort of buzzing sound as they fly. If they don’t, well, let’s just ignore it and move on.

This issue covers a gamut of topics. Here are a few of the top stories (but you can view the full edition via our interactive online version):

A Day at the Farm: Planting Memories, Exploring a Legacy

Pictures will speak a thousand words in the upcoming issue of BizVoice® in my feature story on twins Ted and Tom McKinney. For me, images of my day at the family farm in Tipton where they grew up are etched in my mind. The experience was among my most enjoyable memories – professionally and personally.

I visited the farm to interview them for an article that will appear as part of our agriculture series in the July-August issue. Why the McKinneys? That’s the question Ted humbly asked as we met and shook hands.

First, the family history is deeply rooted in farming. There’s the strong Purdue University connection (they’re third generation graduates of the College of Agriculture). And like their parents and grandparents before, both Ted and Tom are dedicated to making a difference in their community.

Tom is a seventh-generation Indiana farmer (he guides operations at the Tipton farm and another family farm in neighboring Clinton County). Ted is director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture.

Touring the farm, which spans a few thousand acres, brought the McKinney legacy to life. Their passion for agriculture was contagious. Their childhood memories were rich. I could almost see the old yellow barn that served as a clubhouse of sorts in their youth before it was destroyed by straight line winds and made way for a modern shop.

I could picture them working alongside teens in the 1970s detasseling seed corn (the McKinneys were just 16 years old when they started managing their own crews) as they cultivated a strong work ethic and spirit of camaraderie. Tom operated the business for more than three decades.

“It was more than a money-making business. It was about transforming people’s lives,” declares his brother Ted.

Both have spent their lives trying to do just that.

Ted, among other causes, has been heavily involved in FFA and was instrumental in bringing both the organization’s national center and its convention to Indianapolis. Tom is president of the Indiana 4-H Foundation and has donated his time to a variety of other state and local initiatives. Each has brought his leadership to a variety of roles at Purdue.

Check out our memorable afternoon with one of Indiana’s first farming families in BizVoice when the July-August issue debuts on June 30.