Tech Talk: Staking Their Claim to Be Among the ‘Best’

Technology organizations have traditionally fared well in the annual Best Places to Work (BPTW) in Indiana program, including taking top honors several times in its 12-year history.

In recent years, the number of technology companies making the list has significantly increased. Two reasons, both fairly obvious: Tech is continually becoming a bigger part of our state’s economy and more businesses in this sector are entering the program to gain the valuable feedback that all participants receive.

The 2018 BPTW list was unveiled earlier this week. Twenty-six of the 125 honorees self-identified as being in the tech industry; a few others chose consulting or related fields, but do most of their work in the tech/innovation areas.

Two of the BPTW Hall of Fame organizations (making the list at least eight years of the now 13 years of the program) are Salesforce (ExactTarget in the early days) and Software Engineering Professionals.

But, as noted earlier, the last few years have seen the addition of so many tech start-ups or national companies establishing a strong Indiana presence. The Indiana Chamber’s BizVoice® magazine featured four BPTW newcomers in 2017. Among the first-time winners in 2018: Brite Systems, Carbonite, ClearObject, Clinical Architecture, ESCO Communications, Greenlight Guru, Kronos, OrthoPediatrics, Perficient, Sigstr and Springbuk.

Here’s the 2018 list, in alphabetical order, for the four employer size categories. The celebration, and release of the final rankings, takes place on May 3 at the Indiana Convention Center. BizVoice will have the details about the outstanding workplace cultures at all the winners in its May-June issue.

Congratulations to all the winners. Learn more about the program and prepare to enter for 2019.

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 www.indianachamber.com/specialevents.

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 www.bestplacestoworkIN.com.

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: Making Progress at the Statehouse

An Indiana General Assembly analysis at the midway point of the session is always a bit tricky. We can tell you the current status of legislation, but with the caution that more negotiations, compromises and refinements are on the way.

Clarifying the tax status of software as a service (SaaS) is among the high-priority items. Bill Waltz, our tax policy expert, shares this insightful update:

Bill Waltz

As is often the case, the House and the Senate each have their own ideas on how best to address big issues. That is the current circumstance regarding the taxability of software utilized as the means of providing a service. Obtaining greater clarity on this subject is a priority of the Chamber and the Governor.

Senate Bill 257 embodies the efforts of the administration to clarify tax law in this arena. It was largely formulated by the Department of Revenue (DOR) and the Office of Management and Budget to serve as guidance for what is taxable and what is not. The bill is basically a codification of recent DOR rulings interpreting and applying its own information bulletin, which outlines a complicated set of factors and tests. The legislation is focused on what constitutes a retail transaction (sale) of a tangible good.

Essentially, the position of DOR is to tax the sale of prewritten off-the-shelf type software, including such software even if it is downloaded or accessed over the internet. But if it is customized software or software utilized in connection with what is primarily a service to a customer, it is omitted from the new statute and deemed not taxable.

The determinations in gray areas will remain fact sensitive, but the language is intended to make it clearer that software services are not taxable. The statutory provisions should operate to make people in the SaaS industry more comfortable in concluding that they do not need to collect sales tax, unless they are engaged in a transaction that falls squarely into the retail product sale category as set out in the legislation.

On the other hand, HB 1316 takes a different approach. It uses similar language as is in SB 257 but adds several unique twists to the picture. First, it creates a new lesser rate for prewritten off-the-shelf type of software – with the apparent objective of identifying and monitoring the tax revenues associated with these transactions. It excludes transactions where the software is acquired by a business to perform its core business purpose. This business-to-business exemption component is of course a very positive thing and should be embraced. Finally, it looks to the long term potential of sales involving software as the industry continues to expand, plus creates a trigger reducing the standard sales tax rate for when total collections exceed $250 million (a threshold so high that it is hardly foreseeable in the near future.)

Perhaps it makes the most sense to combine the good pieces of these competing bills to produce the best end result. The Chamber sees much merit in doing all that is possible to clarify the state of the law regarding SaaS as is addressed in the Senate bill. This is needed and would be a positive step. But while unique aspects of the House bill present some real concerns, it also includes the most solid of tax principles – don’t tax business inputs. Exempting business-to-business transactions would prove a terrific encouragement to the SaaS industry to conduct their businesses in Indiana.

In the second half of the session, the Chamber will be leading the charge to resolve the SaaS clarification issue to the fullest extent possible.

A variety of other tech policy priorities are still in play. Here is a brief summary.

Video: Midterm Evaluation of the Indiana General Assembly

Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar provides a midterm evaluation of the 2018 Indiana General Assembly. Among the key bills that did not survive the first half of the session: raising the smoking age from 18 to 21 (a common-sense step for dealing with health care costs and lost productivity that causes more than $6 billion in annual impact). In addition, an effort to modernize the state’s local government system by consolidating the smallest townships was not brought for a vote.

Areas that are still a work in progress include reforming the state’s workforce development programs, incorporating computer science requirements into schools, clarifying tax treatment for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and continuing to move forward on long-term water resource management.

Indiana Chamber, Wellness Council Leading the Way for Employers on Battling Opioid Epidemic

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce’s mission is to “cultivate a world-class environment which provides economic opportunity and prosperity.” And as an organization that partners with 25,000 members and investors (representing over four million Hoosiers), we’re well-suited to lead on critical topics to employers and employees in the state.

That’s why the Indiana Chamber and the Wellness Council of Indiana are joining forces with Gov. Eric Holcomb’s administration in efforts to combat the opioid epidemic, one of the most challenging and devastating issues of our time.

The Indiana Workforce Recovery initiative, announced today to the Indiana Commission to Combat Drug Abuse, is being convened to educate and guide employers to:

  • offer health benefits that provide coverage for substance abuse disorders;
  • expand drug testing to include prescription drugs;
  • provide effective employee assistance, wellness and work-life programs that include information and services related to substances abuse prevention, treatment and return to work issues; and
  • train managers to recognize and respond to substance abuse issues.

“The workplace has long been a provider of the resources and support that help Hoosiers enhance their quality of life,” says Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar. “Today, employers can and need to be part of the solution to this epidemic. By bringing together the required resources, our goal is to help deliver the information and training to help them do just that.”

Jennifer Pferrer and Kevin Brinegar announce the initiative.

Specific programs will be unveiled as they are developed. Jennifer Pferrer, executive director of the Wellness Council of Indiana (part of the Indiana Chamber since 2011) will lead the combined effort of the two organizations.

Gov. Holcomb has made attacking the drug epidemic one of the five pillars of his agenda.

“The effects of Indiana’s opioid epidemic are far-reaching and devastating to individual Hoosiers, families, communities and our economy,” Gov. Holcomb said. “It will take all of us working together to slow down and reverse this addiction crisis. I commend the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and the Wellness Council of Indiana for joining forces to launch this new initiative that will help our state’s employers, who are directly impacted by the opioid epidemic.”

Find the full press release here and a fact sheet on the workforce impacts of the epidemic at www.indianachamber.com/opioids. Follow us on social media for updates and more information about the initiative.

Tech Talk: Planning Ahead for Big Events

There is no shortage of tech-related conferences and events throughout Indiana. To help you plan ahead, here is an update on three important ones upcoming this spring:

Although work is already taking place at the Indiana IoT Lab in Fishers, the official grand opening will be March 21. More than 50 companies are on board at the facility, where innovation and collaboration will meet to advance the connections between Indiana businesses and Internet of Things technology.

The AT&T IoT Civic Hackathon will return April 20-21 at the Indiana IoT Lab and Launch Fishers. The focus of the third annual Hackathon will be improving first responder technology and public safety. Among the many guest speakers: former Boston Police Department commissioner Ed Davis and Indiana congresswoman Susan Brooks.

The Indiana Chamber’s inaugural Cyber Security Conference is set for May 1 at the Indiana Chamber Conference Center. Protecting company information from ever-increasing sophisticated attacks is vital for all organizations. Best practices in cyber security and data privacy will be featured. Registration is open and sponsorship opportunities remain.

Save the Date

Tech Talk: Catching Up on Some Conversations

Podcast

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.

Chamber Releases Legislative Agenda Matching Positions to Actual Bills 

Our first edition of the 2018 Legislative Agenda is now available at www.indianachamber.com/agenda. This document details bills introduced in the Indiana House and Senate that the Indiana Chamber has taken a position on and the reason for that stance.

Bills of high importance to the Chamber are labeled with a “priority icon”, while legislation viewed as detrimental to employers and the workforce are denoted with a “job-killer” symbol.

This publication provides direction on issues that not only affect the Indiana business community, but communities, families and individuals throughout the state. We strive to provide our members, legislators and the public with a clear understanding of our positions on these key bills.

In addition to being posted on our web site, this information is sent directly to legislators. We plan to use votes on the bills – those that make it to the House or Senate floor – contained in this document in our annual Legislative Vote Analysis, which scores legislators on their voting record during session.

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.

2018 Legislative Directory Now Available

2018 Legislative Directory

The new Indiana Chamber Legislative Directory is here!

The 2018 Indiana General Assembly Legislative Directory comes in handbook form, as well as a mobile app. Both versions of the directory contain contact information for all 150 state legislators, including committee assignments, photos, biographies and more.

Other features include full-color photos and district maps for each legislator; legislator biographies, photos, contact information and office locations; committee assignments and leadership lists; updated seating charts; and a cross index by county and district number.

In addition, the mobile app includes automatic updates, the ability to “favorite” legislators and committees for quick reference and interaction. You can also download legislators into your mobile phone contacts list. The app is also available for both Apple and Android devices.

Individual handbooks are $9.99 and mobile app access codes are $8.99 each. To order the app version, visit the directory web page (purchase through our site and you’ll be given an access code to purchase the app through your preferred app store). Bulk pricing is also available.

The 2018 Indiana General Assembly Legislative Directory is brought to you by: The Corydon Group; CountryMark; Duke Energy; and Indiana State University.