The CEO of a marketing software giant, two state legislators who authored the right-to-work legislation and an Indianapolis community which hosted Super Bowl XLVI and is experiencing ongoing infrastructure improvements and economic growth were honored by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce this evening at the organization’s 23rd Annual Awards Dinner.
A crowd of approximately 1,400 business, civic and political leaders attended the event at the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis. Famed journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein delivered the keynote speech. The awards dinner was presented in partnership with Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield.
The 2012 Indiana Chamber honorees are: Business Leader of the Year Scott Dorsey, co-founder and CEO of Indianapolis-based ExactTarget; Government Leaders of the Year Rep. Jerry Torr and Sen. Carlin Yoder; and Indianapolis as Community of the Year.
Business Leader of the Year: Scott Dorsey, co-founder and CEO of ExactTarget, Indianapolis — "Scott Dorsey and ExactTarget are a shining example of Indiana’s growing technology community and what this state has to offer," says Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar. "Scott’s humble leadership style and business acumen, along with the desire to foster his employees and the local community, has made the company what it is today."
Though marketing software company ExactTarget is now widely known, it began like any other technology startup – with hard work and support from family and friends – when Dorsey, his brother-in-law Chris Baggott and another partner, Peter McCormick, launched the company in 2000.
"The Internet bubble had burst; money was not flowing into Internet companies," Dorsey contends. "We were three entrepreneurs with no software experience. The capital raising process was really difficult. We went down the friends and family route. It was great, but a little unconventional."
While Dorsey recalls that the early years of the company were "bootstrapped," with the three founders working without salaries for most of the first year in business, ExactTarget has grown to over 1,300 employees in five countries, with just under 1,000 employees in Indiana alone.
"How do you build and manage a global business? That’s a big challenge, especially when you move into markets that are non-English speaking, like we have in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Managing life as a public company is very different too (the company launched an initial public offering in March), but exciting. The expectations and pressures of Wall Street are very different — and very time consuming — to communicate and build relationships with all those key constituents," Dorsey offers.
Dorsey grew up in Naperville, Illinois, and graduated from Indiana University with a degree in marketing before earning an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. He also has worked in various sales positions for Divine, Inc.; Metro; and Steelcase, Inc.
Family ties brought ExactTarget’s headquarters to Indianapolis, but Dorsey admits that the Circle City has proven itself as the right place to be for a growing technology company.
"The support we received from the tech community was extraordinary. As we’ve grown, Indianapolis has become a big competitive advantage for us: the low cost of operation, amazing support from the city and state, great universities we’re able to recruit from and a very loyal employee base with good values and a great work ethic," Dorsey declares.
To give back to the local community, Dorsey and his team created a grassroots organization, ExactImpact (focused on assisting area charities), and the newly-established ExactTarget Foundation.
Dorsey also serves on the board of directors for TechPoint, Indiana Sports Corporation and the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership and is a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council for the School of Informatics at Indiana University. He also served as chair for the marketing and communications division for the Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee.
Government Leaders of the Year: Rep. Jerry Torr and Sen. Carlin Yoder — State legislators Rep. Jerry Torr of Carmel and Sen. Carlin Yoder of Middlebury wanted to see Indiana bring in more jobs and protect the economic well-being of Hoosiers. During the 2012 General Assembly, the two turned their vision to action by authoring the critical right-to-work legislation that now is state law. This was accomplished amid protests and threats that became the norm.
Torr first looked at the right-to-work issue in 2004, when a school teacher from Northern Indiana brought it to his attention. He came to see that it would be "a jobs magnet for Indiana."
"I never shied away from an issue because I thought it was tough," Torr explains. "I think Sen. Yoder will attest: You first come in and you don’t seem to have that mindset of ‘I have to get re-elected over and over.’ You come here to do something. I’ve always felt that way."
Yoder ran on the platform of doing whatever necessary to bring jobs to Elkhart County, and saw the right-to-work issue continue to come up.
"I was convinced we were losing jobs because companies weren’t coming into the state of Indiana simply because we were not a right-to-work state. I did what Rep. Torr did, started looking at numbers and studies, and it became abundantly clear that by becoming a right-to-work state jobs would flow into Indiana," Yoder recalls.
Although Torr had introduced right-to-work legislation previously, there wasn’t much consideration until 2011. After the House Republican caucus voted to move forward on the issue, a committee hearing took place. A 35-day walkout by House Democrats followed, halting the issue. The threat of another walkout in 2012 required strong coordination and repeated reminding of what the majority of Hoosiers wanted: right-to-work.
Already, there is proof of the law’s progress for Indiana: Through early October, 83 companies had communicated to the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) that right-to-work is a factor in their decision where to locate current projects. Sixty-six of those projects had advanced to the pipeline stage, with 26 having accepted the IEDC’s offer – bringing more than 3,100 projected new jobs and more than $414 million in investment to the state.
"From this early evidence, there’s no question that right-to-work will be a home run for job growth and economic prosperity for Indiana," offers Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar. "Rep. Torr and Sen. Yoder are to be commended for their tireless perseverance in carrying out the legislation that has made Indiana the 23rd right-to-work state in the country and only right-to-work state in the industrial Midwest."
Community of the Year: Indianapolis — For the second time in the 23-year history of the statewide community award, Indianapolis has earned top honors from the Indiana Chamber.
"I’m honored to accept this award on behalf of the City of Indianapolis and our residents, our community groups and businesses — large and small — and our employees, who all come together to make Indianapolis the wonderful place it is," says Mayor Greg Ballard.
"Indianapolis is a destination for people and for businesses. Because of our impeccable financials, AAA-debt rating, stable tax environment and balanced budgets, businesses know what to expect in Indy — which makes them more likely to act, create jobs and invest in Indianapolis because they can plan."
Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar on the selection: "Super Bowl XLVI put Indianapolis center stage internationally and marked the pinnacle in a long history of events and developments that have made it a continuing success story.
"The capital city has a varied and growing list of cultural amenities, business diversity and vibrant neighborhoods, as well as strong leadership and a powerful spirit among its residents. This honor is deserved on so many levels," he emphasizes.
Among the specifics cited by the Indiana Chamber:
- CityWay, a business and residential combination near the Eli Lilly campus that will serve as a connecting point to the rest of downtown
- 16 Tech, a partnership that will build on existing strengths in medicine, life sciences and high-tech organizations
- Unprecedented road and sidewalk construction as part of Rebuild Indy, which was largely funded by partnering with Citizens Energy to run the city’s water and wastewater operations
- Bike lanes and trails that have helped enhance residents’ quality of life
- Indianapolis was previously named Community of the Year by the Indiana Chamber in 1995.
The dinner followed the Chamber’s fall board of directors and annual membership meetings. During a lunch ceremony the Indiana Chamber Volunteers of the Year were announced: Bruce Guiliani (Heritage Group Safety); Marci Crozier (Omni 41 Health and Fitness Connection); and Ed Hafer, Mark Maassel, John Sampson, Kerry Stemler and Mike Wells as five regional partners in introducing the Chamber’s new long-range economic development plan, Indiana Vision 2025.
Stemler, president and CEO of KM Stemler Company, Inc. in New Albany, was elected the Indiana Chamber’s 2013 chair of the board of directors.
RECENT INDIANA CHAMBER WINNERS:
Business Leader of the Year
Jean Wojtowicz – 2011
Mike Wells – 2010
John Swisher – 2009
Tony George – 2008
Niel Ellerbrook – 2007
Community of the Year
Kokomo – 2011
Terre Haute – 2010
Valparaiso – 2009
Noblesville – 2008
Anderson – 2007
Government Leader of the Year
Speaker of the House Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long – 2011
Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett – 2010
Stan Jones, former state commissioner for higher education – 2009
Former Gov. Joe Kernan and Chief Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court Randall Shepard – 2008
Mayor Graham Richard – 2007