Indiana Chamber Earns National Honors at ASCP Event in Oklahoma

ascp awardsThe Indiana Chamber earned the prestigious President’s Award for overall excellence at the recent Association of State Chamber Professionals (ASCP) meeting in Oklahoma City. ASCP is comprised of membership and marketing professionals from state chambers of commerce throughout the country. Its annual meeting is in conjunction with a gathering of the Council of State Chambers (presidents and CEOs of the same organizations).

The Indiana Chamber competed against 11 other states in the large Chamber category. In addition to the top honor, three second-place membership awards were also earned: highest market share, highest non-dues growth and highest retention in dollars. None of the 22 states competing in two categories won more than the Indiana Chamber’s four awards.

Chamber membership director Brock Hesler accepted the awards on behalf of the entire staff.

America, the Beautiful

7659613I love traveling. In fact, I am infatuated with traveling.

I’ve been to six different countries across three continents, and in January I plan on studying abroad in Europe for four months. It’s my greatest pleasure to seek adventure and experience culture, but something I often forget is just how awesome our home country is.

I found a list on BuzzFeed of the 29 most breathtaking places in the United States. You’ll want to check this out — and you might even need to update your bucket list.

Paige Ferise, a sophomore at Butler University, is interning in the Indiana Chamber communications department this fall.

I-69: Time to Take Full Advantage

cropped-another-i69-headerProgress on the construction of Interstate 69 from Evansville to Indianapolis continues to take place. Among the next steps is taking economic advantage of this expansion.

The I-69 Regional Summit…Driving Opportunity is a one-day event for businesses and organizations interested in tourism, defense, economic development, government, trade and logistics, commerce and education.

Hoosier Voices for I-69 and The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce are serving as hosts. The Bloomington/Monroe County Convention Center is the location on October 21, with a pre-summit welcome reception on October 20 at Indiana University’s Stadium Club.

Indiana Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann will deliver an opening keynote. Also included are an I-69 congressional caucus panel, full corridor perspective from Canada to Mexico and economic development discussion. Breakout sessions include site selection perspectives, local planning, trade/logistics and public private partnerships.

Access full details and registration.

Chamber Names Bloomington 2014 Community of the Year

The city of Bloomington was named the 2014 Community of the Year today by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. The announcement came at a city hall press conference attended by local government, civic and business leaders.

“This is a tremendous honor for the greater Bloomington area and I proudly accept it on behalf of our citizens and businesses,” said Mayor Mark Kruzan. “Our philosophy is that quality of life is synonymous with economic development. If this is a place that you choose to live, work and play, it’s the kind of place you want to do business.”

Bloomington’s quality of life and amenities along with its emergence as a major high-tech sector for the state were cited as primary factors in its winning the award.

Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar on the selection: “Bloomington is truly unique for a city of its size; it boasts so many cultural, arts, recreational and entertainment offerings. It has big city options with the comfort that comes from living in a close-knit community.”

Brinegar also noted the economic impact Bloomington’s life sciences arena continues to have on the region and emphasized the impressive focus on technology by public and private entities.

“The work of the Bloomington Technology Partnership has been first rate, fostering growth of the city’s emerging high-tech economy through talent recruitment, networking opportunities and technical assistance,” he stated.

“A key part of that effort has been driving technology through education, both at Indiana University and Ivy Tech. This has contributed to seeing an 80% growth in tech sector employment in recent years.”

Among the other impressive technology endeavors highlighted by the Indiana Chamber:
• The 65-acre Bloomington Certified Technology Park with the 12-acre core property currently under development
• The progress of IU’s School of Informatics, the first of its kind in the U.S., which has produced a steady stream of high-quality technology professionals
• Establishing the Cook Center for Entrepreneurship at Ivy Tech and the Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at IU
• The coding school program that addresses a skills gap need in the technology sector

The 2014 Community of the Year award will be presented to Mayor Kruzan and Bloomington during the Indiana Chamber’s 25th Annual Awards Dinner on November 6 at the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis. The 2014 Business Leader of the Year and Government Leader of the Year recipients will be announced at that time.

More than 1,400 business, political and community leaders are expected to attend. “Saturday Night Live” alum Dennis Miller, whose current focus is political commentary on Fox News and a nationally-syndicated talk radio program, will headline the event. Tables of 10 and individual tickets are available for the reception (5 p.m. EST) and dinner (6:30 p.m. EST). Reservations can be made at (800) 824-6885 or at www.indianachamber.com/specialevents.

Media interested in covering the event should contact Rebecca Patrick at (317) 264-6897.

Past Community of the Year recipients:

2013: Bedford
2012: Indianapolis
2011: Kokomo
2010: Terre Haute
2009: Valparaiso
2008: Noblesville
2007: Anderson
2006: Evansville
2005: LaPorte
2004: Muncie
2003: Warsaw
2002: Marion
2001: Greater Lafayette
2000: Jeffersonville
1999: Fort Wayne
1998: Rochester
1997: Batesville
1996: Elkhart
1995: Indianapolis
1994: Kendallville
1993: St. Joseph County
1992: Columbus
1991: Muncie
1990: Bluffton

Regional Events to Connect Employers with Educators

In partnership with Indiana employers, the Educational Workforce Innovation Network (EWIN), Center for Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL), and the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, the Indiana Youth Institute is pleased to announce two NEW events coming to Lafayette and Odon this year.

The two events are regionally based opportunities for K-12 educators, state and regional government agencies, corporations, and youth-serving professionals to engage with employers about how best to connect Hoosier students with the education and careers that fit their skills and interests.

Through panel discussions, keynote presentations and group networking, attendees will be connected to resources that enhance their ability to educate and train students to successfully pursue the postsecondary careers that exist within the region.

Each event will include a tour with a local employer—giving educators a firsthand look at some of Indiana employers’ most state-of-the-art facilities. Join us at one of the following locations:

September 24 – Lafayette
Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc.
Training and Reception Center
Featuring a tour of Subaru

October 2- Odon
Westgate Academy
Conferencing and Training Center
Featuring a tour of NSWC Crane

Both sessions will run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and include lunch. Each session is just $10 to participate. Professional Development Growth Points available for counselors and educators at no extra cost.

Register online.

 

My Chamber Experience

The time has come to finish all of my projects, clean and pack up my desk and head home briefly before returning to school for my senior year. My internship is nearly over.

After spending an incredible 11 weeks at the Chamber, it’s hard to say goodbye. I started this internship knowing that the Chamber advocates for Indiana business and works to better the state, but I didn’t realize the extent to which it does so. I also didn’t know how many amazing people comprise the Chamber staff and how much I would learn in a little less than three months.

I’ve had the opportunity to conduct interviews with top Hoosier business leaders, and I feel like I’ve gained a better understanding of different business issues. I’ve gotten the chance to work with talented writers who have lent their valuable insight and advice.

I was fortunate enough to have a supervisor who pushed me to do my best and always improve. I was able to challenge myself to try new writing styles and juggle different assignments at once.

At the beginning of my internship, I was eager to assure my business-savvy dad that the Chamber seemed to be a place I would enjoy for the summer. Now, as I get ready to leave, I’m happy to say my assumptions were correct. Not only have I learned a great deal about my writing, but I’ve received a better education on Indiana business.

Leaving Indianapolis will also be difficult. A Mishawaka native, it was great to have the chance to live in Indy for the summer and experience everything the city has to offer. However, I’m confident that this is not the last I’ll see of Indy. I hope to return once I graduate.

Ending my internship is bittersweet, but I’m glad that I can leave knowing I had a great experience. I feel like I’ve found a career path I want to pursue and have gained the knowledge and skills that I will need.

Helping Veterans Make the Career Transition

Despite some recent improvement, unemployment rates for veterans — especially those who served post-9/11 — remain much higher than the national average.

Hiring Our Heroes is a nationwide initiative of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. It was developed to help veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses obtain meaningful employment. The program will be hosting a hiring fair at the Amtrak Beech Grove Shops on September 18.

The event is free for both employers and job seekers and will focus on careers in the rail transportation industry. The job fair will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and an employment workshop will be held at 8:30 a.m. Sessions at the workshop will include resume building and writing, as well as interviewing techniques.

The Indiana Chamber’s 24th Annual Awards Dinner in November 2013 featured a salute to the military and veterans theme. In May, the Chamber conducted a Policy Issue Conference Call focused on employment for veterans and military spouses.

Chamber Releases New Study on Indiana Water Supply

A new study from the Indiana Chamber of Commerce Foundation warns that without planning and proper management, the state’s water supply – a longtime natural resource strength – could become a challenge for both businesses and citizens.

While Indiana is not facing the dramatic shortages of California or other states in the West and Southwest, its current economic advantage – plentiful water supplies – will dry up, according to Water and Economic Development in Indiana: Modernizing the State’s Approach to a Critical Resource.

“This is definitely a jobs and economic development issue,” says Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar. “Our state’s economy is growing more diverse, but we always will make things. And it often takes large, reliable supplies of water to do so.

“We experienced a seasonal drought just two years ago and at previous times in our state’s history. The goal is to ensure those droughts and more prolonged shortages do not negatively impact our state in the future,” he explains.

The importance of this issue is underscored in the Indiana Chamber-led Indiana Vision 2025 economic development action plan, which lists the development and implementation of a state water strategy as one of its 33 goals. What’s more, a recent report out of Michigan found that Indiana is the most water-dependent state in the entire country as it pertains to its impact on the economy.

The Indiana Chamber study was commissioned in late 2013 and conducted over the first half of this year. It was led by Bloomington-based Jack Wittman, Ph.D., principal geoscientist with INTERA Incorporated; Wittman has frequently consulted with water providers throughout the state. A water advisory council, comprised of key water users and producers, provided insight and guidance through a series of regular meetings.

Among the findings:

• In Southern Indiana, local water resources are not always able to meet anticipated future needs. For example, there are few aquifers or perennial streams immediately south of Bloomington – a prime area for business development with the expansion of Interstate 69 and the continued work at the Crane Division of the Naval Surface Warfare Center.
• While water supplies in Central Indiana are diverse and utilities are making plans, continued population growth leads to projections of an additional 50 million gallons per day to meet the needs of the region by 2050.
• North of the Wabash River, water is relatively abundant. The area, however, is seeing significant increases in water usage for irrigation. These seasonal fluctuations require additional monitoring, in part to determine impact on other water users.

“Not only does water matter today,” according to Wittman, “but management of water will be even more essential in the future.”

Wittman says a separate study conducted earlier this year found that Indiana ranks first in the nation in the percentage of its economy that depends on water. He also notes various agencies (state, federal and local) and universities already do work in the areas of water management and analysis, but that one entity must be designated to lead the way. Among the specific recommendations:

• Creating widespread awareness about the need for water supply planning
• Coordinating current efforts, including the funding of additional water research
• More robust monitoring of water resources
• Standardized systems for data analysis and water resource management

“What this study does is set the stage for creation of a long-needed, long-range water plan for the state,” offers Vince Griffin, Indiana Chamber vice president of energy and environmental policy. “While a credible plan may take three to five years, legislators – from the Senate and House, as well as both parties – understand the importance of this issue and are prepared to lead on the next steps.”

Brinegar adds, “Additional financial investments will be needed to ensure a reliable water future. That’s why we commissioned this study now and why we encourage all involved to take these results and use them as a playbook for development of a long-range water plan.

“Indiana should be taking advantage of its current water supplies to help attract and retain businesses – and jobs. If we plan properly for the future, those resources will continue to be an economic advantage.”

Additional comments from four members of the water advisory council:

“The release of this study is a good first step in starting the important dialogue about water use in our state. Even though agriculture is a small user compared to other sectors, a stable and abundant water supply is crucial to growing the crops and livestock that feed Hoosier families. Indiana Farm Bureau looks forward to continuing our participation in this important project that will ensure an adequate water supply for all of Indiana.”
– Don Villwock, president of Indiana Farm Bureau

“This report, and the efforts of the (Indiana) Chamber’s Water Advisory Council, are a call to action for Indiana to prepare for meeting the broad range of water needs that form the foundation of the economic future and quality of life for all Hoosiers. By improving the understanding of our current water resources, we can be better prepared to assure their continued availability for the state’s businesses and residents.”
– Thomas M. Bruns, president, Aqua Indiana, Inc. and representing the Indiana Chapter of the National Association of Water Companies

“Indiana corn and soybean growers realize that water is a critical resource needed to produce our crops and for our industry to flourish. This report gives us all a starting point to ensure that our state thrives while our farmers continue to provide food for their families, neighbors and the world.”
– Mike Dunn, director of production research, Indiana Soybean Alliance and Indiana Corn Marketing Council

“The Indiana Section of the American Water Works Association believes this study is an important step toward ensuring an uninterrupted supply of water for Indiana. The availability of water is vital to the continued growth of business and industry and to the quality of life for all Hoosiers. Congratulations to the Indiana Chamber Foundation on its foresight in taking a long-term approach to addressing the importance of water to Indiana’s future.”
– John A. Hardwick, chair, Water Utility Council, Indiana Section American Water Works Association

Evansville: “You Get a Building!”… “You Get a Building!”

Now here’s an interesting idea to get vacant downtown buildings filled – give the buildings away!

Well, don’t just give the buildings away. Try something like the Southwest Indiana Chamber of Commerce is doing: offering a restaurant challenge to anyone looking to open a restaurant in downtown Evansville and then give the building away as the award.

According to local TV station WFIE, the building in question has been empty since 2008 and the city’s Downtown Alliance came up with the idea – the first of its kind in the state, says the news report.

Dubbed the “Main Course Challenge,” the contest’s web site explains that the prize package includes over $250,000 in cash and in-kind services to develop the restaurant. The prize package includes $100,000 in start-up cash, as well as advertising services, inventory, real estate, architectural and construction services.

Interested restaurateurs simply need to apply with a biography of all partners, a prospective menu with pricing, a draft of a business plan and a reason why the pitch should be chosen over all others. The deadline to apply is Oct. 15. Once selected, finalists will provide more detailed information as well as a sampling of the food that would be served at the restaurant.

WFIE reports that the winner will have to move into the building by Sept. 1, 2015.

It’ll be an interesting experiment to see how this contest plays out and if the restaurant will have staying power once the hullabaloo dies down. But, talk about a great way to get a vacant building in your downtown filled, while introducing a new dining experience that might bring in more visitors and tourists.

This program by the Southwest Indiana Chamber of Commerce (an Indiana Chamber member company) is the type of innovative experience that will continue to revitalize older downtown districts. Maybe there are other cities and towns around the state that would benefit from something similar?

Visit www.maincoursechallenge.com to enter the contest.

New Indiana Fair Employment Poster a Required Change

The Indiana Fair Employment Poster (released by the Indiana Civil Rights Commission) has been changed to add veterans as a protected category and prevent discrimination against them. This stems from House Enrolled Act 1242.

It is against the public policy of the state and a discriminatory practice for an employer to discriminate against a prospective employee on the basis of status as a veteran by:
(1) refusing to employ an applicant for employment on the basis that the applicant is a veteran of the armed forces of the United States; or
(2) refusing to employ an applicant for employment on the basis that the applicant is a member of the Indiana National Guard or member of a reserve component.

We are updating our poster sets to comply with this mandatory change.

You can order our new Indiana state/federal poster sets online, or contact customer service at (800) 824-6885 or customerservice@indianachamber.com.

Better yet, make life much easier for yourself and join our FREE poster subscription service!