Tech Talk: Lessons Learned From inX3

For those in attendance at the first inX3 tech/innovation showcase in Indianapolis, I’m certain you have your own takeaways. If you missed out on the opportunity to inspire, innovate and invest – you knew that inX3 had to stand for something – allow me to offer a few nuggets from some of the presenters:For those in attendance at the first inX3 tech/innovation showcase in Indianapolis last week, I’m certain you have your own takeaways. If you missed out on the opportunity to inspire, innovate and invest – you knew that inX3 had to stand for something – allow me to offer a few nuggets from some of the presenters:

From the Almost Fail Reception:

  • Kevin Bailey, former CEO of Slingshot SEO, on what a $60 million valuation of the company resulted in. “That didn’t embolden us. It made us fearful, scared. It was a choice of fight or flight – I chose flight.”
  • Don Aquilano, Allos Ventures, after breaking down the largest failed investment of his career. “Two things I would do differently. Stand up and use your voice and do the right thing. It’s all about the people.”
  • Jim Brown, former CEO of Haven, discussing the business that raised $1 million in less than two months. “The ease of raising money gave us false confidence.” On his eventual choices: “I lost that money. I needed to go home or I needed to do something bigger.”

Keynote session panelists were David Becker (First Internet Bank and numerous other organizations that he created or helped fund) and Canadian entrepreneur David Breukelman, who offered this gem (while speaking in The Gem at The Union 525): “Almost all great companies are 10- to 15-year overnight successes.”

Becker, who took First Internet Bank public in 2013, says the only advantage of that status is access to capital. For entrepreneurs, he noted “yesterday is ancient history; you learn from it and move on.”

His five keys to success:

  • Be flexible
  • Be opportunistic – when the markets are crazy is the best time to invest
  • Hire great people – try to hire in advance, not when under pressure
  • Have great customer service
  • Take advantage of the experience of advisors – legal, accounting, etc.

One final takeaway from Becker on the liberal arts. “Get people with great communications skills and cut them loose.”

Employer Survey: Skilled Workers Scarce; Few Take Advantage of Tuition Reimbursement

A new employer survey from the Indiana Chamber shows concerning trends in workforce shortages, tuition reimbursement and response to prescription opiate abuse.

“Too often employers can’t find the workers they need, and those currently employed aren’t taking advantage of tuition reimbursement that would put them in better positions,” says Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar.

More than 1,100 businesses from throughout the state took part in the Indiana Chamber Foundation’s 10th annual employer survey, sponsored by WGU Indiana and conducted in partnership with Indiana-based Walker.

Specifically, research shows that nearly half (47%) of employers left jobs unfilled in the past year due to under-qualified applicants. That extended a trend from the previous three years in which the answers to that same question were 39%, 43% and 45%, respectively.

Additionally, almost 80% (79%) percent cited filling their workforce as among their biggest challenges. That number is also on the rise from 72%, 74% and 76% in the previous three years.

Once again, more than half of employers (53%) expect to increase the size of their workforce in the next one to two years. But their challenges are even larger with 54% saying the supply of qualified applicants does not meet demand and 85% placing the filling of talent needs as among their critical challenges.

“In many cases, it’s not a lack of a four-year degree or higher educational achievement. Two-thirds require less than a bachelor’s degree for their unfilled jobs,” Brinegar explains. “This puts additional emphasis on the certificates, credentials and associate degrees in which Indiana, unfortunately, trails the majority of states.”

But it’s not always a lack of education or training that leads to the unfilled positions. In the view of employers, 45% of applicants are unwilling to accept the pay/compensation offered and 28% are not attracted to the community where the job is located.

In the training world, there appear to be some missed opportunities for employers and their workers. Only 40% of the respondents indicate that they partner with an educational institution to help meet their training needs.

For the employees, nearly half (48%) have access to tuition reimbursement programs but very few take advantage of those opportunities. From the employer perspective, 60% said employees have no desire or motivation to participate and 35% believe workers see no personal benefit in advancing their education.

“Part of the problem is employees not having the funds to cover the tuition payments upfront that will be reimbursed at some point by their employer. And that’s a common arrangement for these programs,” Brinegar offers.

“But we also know if employers pay for the tuition directly to the school – which is obviously easier for larger companies – more workers are likely to take part. We heard from one of our members who saw participation jump from about 50 employees to more than 400 when that change was made. So that is something the Indiana Chamber will be looking at this summer in our business-higher education committee to see what public policy recommendations may make sense.”

When it comes to prescription opiate misuse, less than half (47%) of the respondents said they drug tested employees for it in safety-sensitive positions. On a broader scale, 56% of employers said they tested any employee if they suspected misuse or abuse of prescription opiates. However, more than a third (34%) of employers indicated they did not know how to detect such misuse or abuse.

The survey results are available at www.indianachamber.com/education.

The annual employer survey complements the work the Indiana Chamber is doing with the Outstanding Talent driver in the Indiana Vision 2025 long-term economic development plan for the state.

Indiana Vision 2025 measures Indiana’s progress compared to other states on 36 goals in the four driver areas of Outstanding Talent, Attractive Business Climate, Superior Infrastructure, and Dynamic and Creative Culture. The latest Report Card showing how Indiana ranks was released earlier this month and is available at www.indianachamber.com/2025.

Walmart to Host June 28 Open Call in Arkansas for U.S. Manufacturers

Indiana manufacturers and entrepreneurs are invited to attend Walmart’s Open Call for U.S. products on June 28 in Bentonville, Arkansas. It’s an opportunity for businesses across the country to meet one-on-one with Walmart’s buyers to potentially have their products sold in Walmart stores and online.

The event is part of Walmart’s 10-year $250 billion commitment to advancing U.S. manufacturing.

Walmart writes:

Open Call is an opportunity for entrepreneurs and manufacturers large and small in Indiana to meet one-on-one with Walmart’s buyers and potentially have their products sold on Walmart shelves and on Walmart.com. This year, more than 500 entrepreneurs from 48 states will pitch more than 750 American-made products to our buyers giving American entrepreneurs a unique opportunity to potentially reach millions of Walmart customers. From food to toys to apparel, and companies large and small from coast to coast, we want to make a deal for U.S. made products. This year’s event will showcase American entrepreneurship and celebrate ingenuity and diversity. Nearly half of all businesses self-identify as diverse including as women-owned.

Walmart is committed to significantly investing in products that support American jobs through events such as Open Call and by working with local suppliers whenever possible. Manufacturing, sourcing and growing products at home not only supports American jobs, but also drastically reduces shipping costs and is better for the environment. In fact, it has been estimated that 1 million new jobs will be created in the United States as a result of our manufacturing initiative.

To inquire, reach out to Walmart Director of Corporate Affairs Matthew Fitz-Gerald at (202) 434-0719 or matthew.fitzgerald@walmart.com. For media inquiries, contact Scott Markley at (800) 331-0085 or via Walmart’s media site.

Chamber Honored for Support of National Guard

Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar holds the Above and Beyond Award, presented to the Chamber for its support of our employee Cory Ahlersmeyer. Cory’s annual two-week deployments allow him to train for his service in the National Guard.

We’re proud to have received the Above and Beyond Award from the U.S. Military’s Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve program for our support and flexibility with our staffer Cory Ahlersmeyer. We’re grateful for his service to the country and proud to call him a colleague! The award reads: “Presented on behalf of the men and women of the National Guard and Reserve Forces for outstanding service and continuing support to the National Defense.”

Brain Drain/Gain Workshop Yields Comprehensive Report

In late April, Purdue University partnered with the Indiana Chamber, Indiana INTERNnet and others to present a brain drain/gain workshop as part of the Chamber’s 53rd Annual Human Resources Conference. Panel discussions, presentations and more on the talent/skills gap were compiled into a comprehensive report. Read the full report.

It documents the workshop, including key takeaways and actions and is provided to those with an interest in these topics. Our aim is for the information in the report to be a resource for those working to make progress within their organization and forming collaborations with other stakeholders to move Indiana forward.

Chamber Statement on State Takeover of I-69 Project

Indiana Chamber of Commerce President Kevin Brinegar, who is also the board chair for Hoosier Voices for I-69, comments on the state’s announcement today that the Indiana Finance Authority is taking over management of the I-69 section from Bloomington to Martinsville:

“It’s the absolute right thing for the state to do to ensure that this segment and the entire project is completed as quickly as possible.

“We must stay on course, because the ramifications are too important. When fully finished, the new I-69 – from Evansville to Fort Wayne – will help further Indiana’s position as the Crossroads of America.

“It will provide many more Hoosiers with better road access, leading to reduced travel time. And that also is very attractive for businesses, making Indiana an even more viable hub for companies and new jobs.”

Chamber Scores Lawmakers on Voting Records, Honors Five as Legislative Champions

Each year, the Indiana Chamber holds state lawmakers accountable for their voting records on pro-jobs, pro-economy legislation. Today the 2017 results were revealed in the organization’s annual Legislative Vote Analysis, with vote scores ranging from 29% to 100%.

“We want employers and citizens to take note of this report because it makes it very clear which legislators were supportive of bettering Indiana’s economic climate and which were not,” states Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar.

Bills included for examination in the Legislative Vote Analysis can be traced back to the Indiana Chamber’s economic development plan, Indiana Vision 2025 (www.indianachamber.com/2025). The plan contains 36 goals in the four driver areas of Outstanding Talent, Attractive Business Climate, Superior Infrastructure, and Dynamic and Creative Culture.

Separately, the Indiana Chamber acknowledged 11 legislators who made a difference in the 2017 session. Five legislators were named Indiana Chamber Legislative Champions for “taking on tough assignments and working diligently to see much-needed policy cross the finish line or at least meaningful debate started,” Brinegar offers.

These legislators are: Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer (Dist. 89 – Beech Grove); Rep. David Ober (Dist. 82 – Albion); Sen. Jeff Raatz (Dist. 27 – Centerville); Rep. Holli Sullivan (Dist. 78 – Evansville); and Rep. Ed Soliday (Dist. 4 – Valparaiso). (Why each received the honor is listed on page 6 of the report.

Additionally, appreciation was noted for six lawmakers in leadership positions: House Speaker Brian Bosma (Dist. 88 – Indianapolis); Senate President Pro Tem David Long (Dist. 16 – Fort Wayne); House Education Committee Chairman Bob Behning (Dist. 91 – Indianapolis); House Ways and Means Chairman Tim Brown (Dist. 41 – Crawfordsville); Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee Chairman Brandt Hershman (Dist. 7 – Buck Creek); and Senate Education and Career Development Committee Chairman Dennis Kruse (Dist. 14 – Auburn).

All scores and the full report are available at the Indiana Chamber’s web site at www.indianachamber.com/lva.

Base scores for each legislator are calculated as a percentage of votes cast in agreement with the Indiana Chamber’s position on the bills included in the Legislative Vote Analysis. Six pro-economy, pro-jobs bills were double-weighted to reflect their importance. These include legislation for long-term road funding, ISTEP replacement, pre-K expansion for children from low-income families, an appointed State Superintendent of Public Instruction, a broad energy policy and prohibiting a “ban the box” practice against employers seeking criminal history information on an employment application.

A modest adjustment factor (positive or negative) was added to the Legislative Vote Analysis scoring model to factor in very important legislative activities outside of floor votes. These include whether a legislator sponsored/authored these important bills and whether committee chairs held hearings or killed these bills.

Legislators who score 70% or greater for the most recent four-year voting period are eligible for endorsement by the Indiana Chamber’s political action committee, Indiana Business for Responsive Government.

Lawmakers are notified of the Indiana Chamber position and reasoning on the bills in this report through various communications during the legislative session – and prior to key votes being taken. Only floor votes for which there is a public record are used in the Legislative Vote Analysis.

Copies of the Legislative Vote Analysis report are sent to all legislators and Indiana Chamber board members, and made available online for all businesspersons, community leaders and citizens.

This marks the 33rd year the Indiana Chamber has measured state legislators’ voting performance on bills that reflect the organization’s public policy positions.

Chronic Diseases Top of Mind for New Wellness Council Executive Director

Chronic disease management is a costly challenge in Indiana. Due to high rates of tobacco usage and obesity and the resulting health issues (diabetes, lung cancer, heart disease, etc.), Indiana finds itself again near the bottom of recent national health and fitness rankings.

As the new executive director of the Wellness Council of Indiana (WCI), Jennifer Pferrer is ready to help tackle those challenges and spread the message of comprehensive wellness programming to Hoosier employers.

“Some of the goals in the Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 economic development plan target reducing smoking rates and obesity levels in Indiana, and the role of the WCI is to bring that conversation to a broader space and make an impact in health care costs and the health of Hoosiers,” she explains.

“I’m passionate about health care and I am looking forward to adding my mark on the Wellness Council of Indiana, as it really fits my background.”

Pferrer joined the WCI – a program of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce – in April and previously worked for the American Diabetes Association (ADA) for 10 years, serving in roles that included executive director for Indiana and Kentucky, and regional vice president of a six-state region. Prior to the ADA, she studied consumer-physician relationships as marketing manager at St. Vincent Hospital.

Pferrer’s goal is to continue proving the value of the WCI as an investment for Hoosier employers.

“Wellness is so much broader than Fitbit programs. This is not just food and fitness. There is a data-driven business case for wellness. Wellness needs to be seen as an investment and it goes back to managing chronic diseases,” Pferrer notes. “For example, health education for employees with pre-diabetes can reduce the annual health care spend by the employer by thousands of dollars.”

Through the WCI’s AchieveWell company-based wellness program certification and the Indiana Healthy Community Initiative – which encourages a community-based approach to wellness to increase economic development potential – Pferrer says the infrastructure is in place for wellness success.

“I want employers to know – if wellness is on their radar, they don’t have to recreate the wheel. We can convene and share best practices and be that resource for them,” she concludes.

For more information on the WCI or to connect with Pferrer, visit www.wellnessindiana.org or call (317) 264-2168.

Hoosier Gasket Corporation Receives Presidential Award for Exports

The following is a release from the U.S. Department of Commerce:

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross presented Indianapolis-based Hoosier Gasket Corporation with the 2017 President’s “E” Award for Exports at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on May 22. The President’s “E” Award is the highest recognition any U.S. entity can receive for making a significant contribution to the expansion of U.S. exports.

“Hoosier Gasket has demonstrated a sustained commitment to export expansion. The “E” Award Committee was very impressed with Hoosier Gasket’s growth in employment directly tied to exports,” said Secretary Ross in his congratulatory letter to the company announcing its selection.

Hoosier Gasket Corporation is a designer and manufacturer of high quality gaskets and seals for automotive, construction, agriculture, marine, power generation and other industries.

“Exporting is an important and growing part of our business, with exports now accounting for 15% of our total sales and supporting 15% of the 140 jobs in our Indianapolis headquarters,” said Oleg Gostomelsky, vice president at Hoosier Gasket Corporation. “Buyers and consumers in foreign markets want quality products made in the United States, and we are very honored to receive the ‘E’ Award.”

In total, Secretary Ross honored 32 U.S. companies and organizations from across the country with the President’s “E” Award for their role in strengthening the U.S. economy by sharing American ingenuity outside of our borders.

U.S. companies are nominated for the “E” Awards through the U.S. Commercial Service, part of the Department’s International Trade Administration. With offices across the United States and in embassies and consulates around the world, the International Trade Administration lends its expertise at every state of the exporting process by promoting and facilitating exports and investment into the United States; administering anti-dumping and countervailing duties orders; and removing, reducing or preventing foreign trade barriers.

U.S. exports totaled $2.21 trillion in 2016, accounting for nearly 12% of U.S. gross domestic product. Exports supported an estimated 11.5 million jobs nationwide in 2015, according to the International Trade Administration.

Gov. Holcomb Statement on the Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 Report Card

Gov. Holcomb offered the following statement on the Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 Report Card and 10th annual workforce survey released Tuesday:

This report card makes clear our state’s strengths and challenges: Indiana is a top state for doing business, but to meet the demands of our growing economy we must double-down on efforts to attract and prepare a ready workforce.

There is no single solution for improvement. The only way we’ll take our state to the next level is with a comprehensive strategy, and Indiana has the right roadmap.

From improving roads and bridges to attacking the drug epidemic, from prekindergarten to adult career training, from more direct flights to enhanced regional development—all of these efforts combined will help build healthier, more vibrant communities that are magnets for jobs and growth.

Now is the time for our state’s leaders to come together and put in the hard work that will improve the lives of Hoosiers.

We appreciate the governor’s support and attentiveness to our efforts.