New Grads, Perk Up Your ears

????????????????A month after earning a bachelor’s degree in English, I launched my career at the Indiana Chamber. It seems like yesterday. But … it wasn’t. I celebrated my 15-year anniversary last week.

An interesting article on reveals the top employers for new graduates based on a survey of business students at colleges around the world.

Among the coveted employers:

The Coca-Cola Company
Is there a more recognizable, more iconic American brand than Coca-Cola? That’s what draws young people to work for the company – the chance to work on products that they’ve been around, enjoyed and seen millions of advertisements for their whole lives.

It’s no wonder that working for one of the world’s biggest beauty brands is attractive to young workers. With Kiehls, Maybelline, Urban Decay and Clarisonic under its umbrella, employees can have many different jobs with various brands while still staying within the company.

Plus, there are some great benefits, like flexible work options, paternity leave, adoption assistance and 13 weeks of paid maternity leave, among others. And yes, employees receive discounts on products.

Sure, getting to work for a company responsible for some of the most famous chocolate brands sounds delicious. Even more appealing for young workers is the company’s policy of promoting people from within. In fact, 80% of positions within Nestle are filled by current employees, according to the company.

VIDEO: A Look at the Latest Indiana Vision 2025 Report Card

Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar discusses the latest Indiana Vision 2025 Report Card, which was just released this month.

The state’s highlights include improved reading and math test scores for fourth and eighth graders, progress toward a long-term water resources plan and promising research and development rankings. Struggles continue with postsecondary credentials and a dearth of entrepreneurial activity.

See the full report card.

Ag Strength – By the Numbers

agThere’s no doubting the continued strength of Indiana’s agricultural industry (see the state fact sheet). We’ve told the stories often in BizVoice magazine – and will do so in the upcoming July-August issue (with a look at the prominence of ag businesses in Kosciusko County).

But according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, Indiana did not rank in the top three exporters by state of various products. There are some interesting states and dollar figures included (selected examples):

  • Soybeans: Illinois ($3.1 billion), Iowa ($2.7 billion) and Minnesota ($1.8 billion)
  • Corn: The same three states as soybeans, with Iowa leading the way at $1.1 billion
  • Wheat: Kansas ($1.5 billion), North Dakota and Montana
  • Pork: Iowa ($2 billion), North Carolina and Minnesota
  • Beef: Nebraska ($946 million), Texas and Kansas
  • Dairy; California ($1.2 billion), Wisconsin and New York
  • Poultry: Georgia, North Carolina and Arkansas
  • Fresh fruit: California ($2.5 billion), Florida ($3.2 billion) and Washington

Purdue Charter School to Help Inner-City Students

purdue-black-and-goldPurdue University President Mitch Daniels has called the low number of Indianapolis Public School students who are prepared for success at Purdue “unacceptable.”

In an effort to combat this, Purdue is launching a polytechnic charter school in Indy to create a direct path for these students to ultimately graduate from the university. It’s a bold move, and if it succeeds, there would be an effort to take it statewide.

Inside INdiana Business has more information, and reveals the charter school is expected to be located in downtown Indianapolis and will be a collaboration among Purdue, the city of Indianapolis, its EmployIndy program and Indianapolis-based USA Funds.

“We applaud President Daniels and Purdue University for this opportunity for low-income and minority students to have the opportunity to have a strong foundation in the STEM areas,” explains Caryl Auslander, vice president of education and workforce development for the Indiana Chamber. “This will provide students with incredible opportunities to learn using curriculum produced by Purdue faculty and provides direct admittance to the university after graduation. We are pleased to see community and business partnerships in this endeavor and know that it will provide not only unique experiences for students but also create an even stronger workforce in the future.”

Latest Indiana Vision 2025 Reveals State Strengths, Shortcomings

IV-2025-CoverWith a decade remaining in the Indiana Vision 2025 economicdevelopment action plan championed by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and statewide partners, the state is showing some progress toward key goals but also revealing a long way to go on metrics vital to innovation and economic prosperity.

The latest results are included in the 2015 version of the Indiana Vision 2025 Report Card. The plan, introduced in 2012, includes 33 goals in four critical areas: Outstanding Talent, Attractive Business Climate, Superior Infrastructure and Dynamic and Creative Culture. This Report Card follows a 2013 effort that established benchmarks on 59 statistical metrics.

“Keeping score is essential to evaluating the state’s advancement,” says Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar. “While there are some encouraging signs and more improvements than declines compared to other states, the overall theme is Indiana must do more – especially in the areas of talent and new business creation.”

Of the 59 metrics, Indiana improved its ranking (from the 2013 Report Card) compared to other states on 28; it declined in 19 rankings; and remained the same or there was no updated data available in 12. In terms of raw scores, Indiana improved in 33 metrics, declined in 17 and there was no movement or updates available for nine.
Positive Report Card developments include:

  • Improvements in math and reading NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) test scores for both fourth and eighth graders, with corresponding fourth-grade ranking changes from 17th to fourth in math and 27th to 14th in reading
  • Poverty rate: Indiana’s state ranking, after dropping to 35th in the previous Report Card improved to 12th. This is partially attributable to the state’s heavy reliance on manufacturing and the re-emergence of that industry from the Great Recession
  • A state regulatory climate that continues to stand out, including a top ranking in the Regulatory Freedom Index from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University
  • A drop in the adult smoking rate in 2013 to 21.9% (from 25.6% in 2011 and 27.4% in 2001). The ranking is 39th, but the nearly 4% reduction is significant
  • Research and development funding at both the university and business levels with rankings of 18th and 12th, respectively

“The addition of the I-READ third-grade reading test appears to be paying dividends,” comments Brinegar, referring to the improved reading scores. “Study after study has affirmed the state’s strong business climate, which will be even better with the elimination in 2016 of the business personal property tax for approximately 150,000 small businesses.”

Among the areas of concern:

  • Postsecondary attainment that continues to lag with ranks of 45th in associate degrees and 42nd in bachelor degrees
  • Funded pension liabilities that are below the U.S. average (72%) and decreased from 64% in the previous Report Card to 61% in this edition
  • Broadband connectivity, a particular challenge in rural areas, that slightly improved in the percent of households connected but still dropped in the state rankings from 35th to 40th
  • A lowly 47th-place ranking in the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity. Despite an increasing emphasis in this area, there are simply not enough new businesses being created
  • A significant decline in venture capital invested, one of the factors in new business creation, from 2012 to 2014

“On education attainment, the goal is for 60% of residents with high-quality postsecondary credentials by 2025. Indiana’s 34.7% achievement as of 2013 shows how far the state has to go,” Brinegar shares. “Similarly, technology success stories are multiplying and business acceleration and innovation programs are expanding but Indiana, as a whole, remains far behind others in growing and maintaining a dynamic business culture.”

About Indiana Vision 2025

Mission: “Indiana will be a global leader in innovation and economic opportunity where enterprises and citizens prosper.”

Indiana Vision 2025 was developed by a statewide task force of community, business and education leaders. The plan was released in early 2012. The full Report Card, a summary of Indiana’s rankings and a one-page overview of progress on the 33 goals of Indiana Vision 2025 are available at Statistics utilized are the most recent available from established, credible sources.

The 2015 Report Card and six regional forums (to discuss the results, obtain local analysis and share best practices in the Outstanding Talent area) are sponsored by Duke Energy Foundation, Eli Lilly and Company Foundation, Ivy Tech Community College, NIPSCO and St. Vincent Health.

Indiana Vision 2025 Regional Forums (regional partners)

  • June 22: Fort Wayne (Regional Chamber of Northeast Indiana, Vince Buchanan)
  • June 23: Evansville (Evansville Regional Business Committee, Ed Hafer)
  • June 25: Indianapolis (Mike Wells, REI Real Estate Services)
  • June 29: Merrillville (Northwest Indiana Forum, Heather Ennis)
  • June 30: Elkhart (Elkhart, South Bend and Warsaw chambers of commerce; Kyle Hannon, Jeff Rea and Mark Dobson)
  • July 27: Sellersburg (One Southern Indiana, Wendy Dant Chesser)

Bison Financial Group: Maximizing Its Investment by Boosting Visibility

Vorbeck_DavidNumbers are the name of the game in the financial world. But that’s only part of the equation.

Just ask Dave Vorbeck, president and CEO of Bison Financial Group, which he founded in 1999. He regularly showcases the firm’s MENTOR product by advertising in the Chamber’s award-winning BizVoice® magazine. In addition, Bison has sponsored a variety of events, such as the Wellness Council of Indiana’s regional wellness symposiums, and has been an Indiana Chamber member since 2011.

“People who are on the distribution list of BizVoice (the audience includes 15,000 CEOs, presidents and other decision-makers) want to be on the distribution list of BizVoice and the editorial content is important to them. MENTOR is our business-to-business product and being able to zero-in on those decision-makers in terms of brand development is incredibly valuable to us.

“We don’t need to get in front of 15,000 people. We need to get in front of 15,000 of the right people. BizVoice (readers represent) 15,000 of the right people.”

Based in Lafayette, Bison also has offices in Mishawaka; Terre Haute; Valparaiso; Kalamazoo, Michigan; and Melbourne, Florida. It employs 40 people firmwide and is affiliated with Wells Fargo Advisors.

“I’m looking at new MENTOR clients (and one is) a big coding company in Fort Wayne. The only way they’ve heard of us is through BizVoice because we don’t advertise in Fort Wayne,” Vorbeck stresses. “Advertising in BizVoice is an incredible value for us. For what we’re advertising, it absolutely is perfect.”

Dodge These ‘Dirty Dozen’

16010132Ah, “The Dirty Dozen.”

No, I’m not talking about the iconic western. The phrase popped into my mind when I read this Business Insider story about 12 ways you’re sabotaging your career.

Some of the mistakes are pretty obvious. Acting like you can’t learn anything new, for instance, has “bad move” written all over it. Some are less apparent – and the “offenders” may not even realize their blunders.

Career development specialist and author Sylvia Hepler offers comments on each of the missteps. Here is a memorable trio:

  • Criticizing your boss.
    Whispering behind his back, carping to her face or making your supervisor out to be wrong, pathetic or inept puts you in the danger zone, Hepler says. “If you’re doing this, don’t expect to land a promotion or last there.”
  • Wearing your emotions on your sleeve.
    Going overboard with disruptive displays of anger, whines of frustration and dramatic tears usually sends messages of warning to bosses, staff and peers, she says. “People may conclude that you can’t manage your feelings, and that’s never a good thing.”
  • Complaining.
    “Chronic complainers generally focus on the problems at hand rather than on the potential solutions,” she explains. “Instead of moaning about policies, processes and people, accept what you cannot change or make recommendations for positive change.”

D.C. Fly-in is Your Chance to Speak Up

7324001Don’t sit on the sidelines when you could be influencing laws and regulations under discussion in Washington. Make an impact by attending the Indiana Chamber’s D.C. Fly-in on September 16-17!

The event offers business and community leaders an opportunity to speak with Indiana’s congressional delegation and key staff members during a roundtable discussion/dinner on September 16. The second day features a panel of national and state issue experts, followed by numerous group visits to congressional offices.

“It’s ideal to get in front of lawmakers in D.C. so they can go back to their offices and get to work on what you just talked to them about,” emphasizes Cameron Carter, Chamber vice president of economic development and federal relations.

By September, the 2016 presidential campaign will be in full swing with a number of members of Congress running for re-election. Dominant issues in Washington and beyond will include transportation, tax reform, repatriation of overseas funds, Obamacare and immigration.

Dennis Faulkenberg, president and CEO of transportation advising company APPIAN in Indianapolis, has participated in the Fly-in for as long as he can remember. He’s helped coordinate office visits on Capitol Hill the last several years.

“Since I’ve spent some time lobbying in Washington, I know the Hill and how to get from one place to the other,” Faulkenberg comments. “It’s really special to meet with members of the congressional delegation, and voice your concerns and opinions about business in Indiana.”

Cost is $149 per person and group discounts are available. Each attendee is responsible for securing travel arrangements. Discounted hotel rooms are available for Chamber Fly-in guests at The Liaison Capitol Hill.

The D.C. Fly-in is sponsored by Zimmer. The breakfast program is sponsored by Faegre Baker Daniels. Additional opportunities are available by contacting Jim Wagner at or at (317) 264-6876.

Report: American Manufacturing is Still Alive and Well

According to a report from Ball State’s Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) and Conexus Indiana, the American manufacturing industry is hardly in the downward spiral that some have projected — and they anticipate openings for new manufacturing jobs will range from 80,000 to 150,000 per year over the next 10 years.

“There are major misunderstandings among the public and the media about the manufacturing sector,” said Michael Hicks, director of CBER and the George and Frances Ball Distinguished Professor of Economics at Ball State. “The U.S. manufacturing base is not in decline, and we have recovered from the recession. Nor are jobs being outsourced because American manufacturing can’t compete internationally. Moreover, new jobs in manufacturing pay well above the average wage.”

The study notes that the Great Recession had lost its stranglehold by 2014, when U.S. manufacturers attained record levels of production.

“Changes in productivity, domestic demand and foreign trade all impact manufacturing employment in the U.S.,” Hicks said, “and it’s important to clarify those impacts in order to understand what is happening in the manufacturing and logistics industries.”

The study also found that:
• More than 87 percent of manufacturing job losses are due to productivity gains, including better supply chains, more capital investment and advanced technology.
• Only 4 percent of manufacturing jobs have been lost to international trade (also known as outsourcing) since 2000.
• Since the end of the Great Recession in 2009, the economy has added 750,000 manufacturing jobs.
• The biggest job losses occurred in low productivity sectors with low transportation costs.

The report points out baby boom generation retirees are leaving behind good, well-paying jobs in those sectors, and younger workers are filling those jobs at an unprecedented rate. Recent new hire salaries averaged $20.06 per hour — almost $42,000 a year. As millennials move into the workforce, wage gaps between new and existing jobs are primarily age- and tenure-related, he said.

The report, “The Myth and the Reality of Manufacturing in America,” and the individual state report cards may be found online.

Poker and Investing: Selective Aggression Pays Off

Las Vegas,Navada

I’m quite a poker enthusiast and play tournaments in Southern Indiana and Cincinnati quite a bit, as well as an occasional home game with friends.

One of my favorite players to watch on television is Vanessa Selbst — mainly because she’s managed to parlay an unpredictable, super aggressive style largely based on reading opponents into remarkable results (with well over $10 million in career tournament earnings). She also boasts a law degree from Yale University.

I recently found this 2013 interview with Bloomberg Business in which she discusses the similarities between poker and investing.