Toyota Celebrates 500,000 Forklifts Built in America

Toyota’s forklift manufacturing company, Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing, has been headquartered in Columbus since 1990. After Toyota’s forklift sales and distribution company relocated to Indiana (from Irvine, California) last summer, all of the company’s North American forklift operations are under one roof — and have now produced over 500,000 forklifts.

Congrats to Toyota on this milestone!

Brotherhood Mutual Lives Up to Name by Helping Staffers’ Children

????????????????????????????????????????????For the upcoming May/June edition of BizVoice, I’ve written several stories about companies making the Best Places to Work in Indiana list.

In speaking with Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company in Fort Wayne — a company that has made the list many times, I learned an important tidbit about how the organization helps the families of its staffers. By employing every college age kid whose parent works for the company for a period of time (40 hours per week for six to 12 weeks, starting at a salary of $10 per hour), Brotherhood Mutual helps these students gain quite an advantage.

“They may start doing data entry or working on the grounds, but as they continue through their college careers and pick their majors, we try to place them (in a related job),” explains Mark Robison, chairman and president. “So if they’re a graphic artist, they’ll be in our communications department — and accounting majors will be in our finance department. Or for upper classmen, if we don’t have a good fit for them, we’ll work with them and place them (and sponsor their work at an outside organization).”

He adds that his son was able to gain two internships in social work through the program, including one in Los Angeles.

“This year, we had 48 students apply – and we have 360 employees, so that many students coming in for the summer really changes the dynamic of the workplace,” Robison relays. “There’s more energy and it’s more exciting. The cool part is parents are taking care of each other’s kids, so the camaraderie is incredible.”

The company also supports employees’ adoption efforts, among many other family-focused benefits offered. This type of attitude is likely one of the reasons Brotherhood Mutual will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2017 — a remarkable milestone indeed.

Look for the article featuring Brotherhood Mutual and many others in the upcoming May/June edition of BizVoice.

Honda Manufacturing of Indiana Completes One Millionth Vehicle

Honda Celebrates 1 Millionth Group PhotoIn Greensburg on Wednesday, Honda Manufacturing of Indiana, LLC (HMIN) and its associates celebrated the one millionth car built at the plant.

This is quite an achievement for one of the auto industry’s premier companies — though definitely not its first major milestone in America. A release from Honda has more:

The completion of HMIN’s 1 millionth vehicle comes only six years after the start of mass production at the $800 million facility on October 9, 2008.

In addition to making the Civic, HMIN started manufacturing Acura ILX vehicles in 2012 before transferring the production to the Marysville Auto Plant in Ohio earlier this year. In total, 65,172 Acura ILX cars were built at HMIN during a three year period — helping us reach this production milestone.

“We have come a long way from where Honda Manufacturing of Indiana started in 2008 to where we are today,” said Bob Nelson, HMIN president. “Our associates have shown tremendous commitment and dedication to get us to this major milestone and we will continue to work to provide our customers with products of the highest quality. These values and beliefs are at the heart of what makes Honda great.”

Last week, at the New York International Auto Show, Honda announced the North American version of the 2016 Civic Sedan will be produced at the Indiana plant. Honda is preparing to launch its completely reimagined 10th-Generation Civic models beginning this fall.

HMIN became Honda’s fourth auto plant in the U.S. and its seventh in North America when it began production of Civic sedans in October 2008. With employment over 2,000 and capital investment exceeding $800 million, HMIN primarily manufactures automobiles for the United States, with some Civics produced for export to markets outside of North America. HMIN maintains one of the lowest environmental footprints of any automobile plant in Honda’s global production network.

Child Adult Resource Services: Maximizing Its Investment Through Compliance Resources

Teri King

Knowledge is power – and empowering. Just ask Teri King, HR manager at Child Adult Resource Services (CARS), a Chamber member since 1991 that has around 250 employees. CARS provides Head Start, group homes, employment and other services to people with a variety of needs. Headquartered in Rockville, it covers 40 Indiana counties.

“I count on the Chamber to keep me up-to-date and out of trouble,” she declares.

King shares how an email from the Chamber helped keep CARS in compliance with Indiana’s smoking ban law, which went into effect on July 1, 2012. As part of the law, businesses are required to post signage at public entrances indicating that smoking is prohibited within eight feet.

“I had missed that (component of the) law,” King recalls. “Had it not been for her (the Chamber’s Rhea Langdon, manager of business resource marketing and sales) email telling me there was new signage available, I would have been out of compliance.”

King also is a fan of the Chamber’s ePubs (“I’ve enjoyed the forms and links to different topics,” she remarks) and completed the Chamber’s human resources and safety compliance certificate programs by attending a variety of training events.

“Being a nonprofit, training dollars are very tight. Whenever I’ve submitted a training (request) to go to the Chamber, it’s always approved. Other trainings may not be,” she emphasizes.

“In HR, you get all kinds of sales calls. You get all kinds of flyers from companies that are trying to sell their stuff. I always tell them, ‘I’m getting it from the Chamber. I know I have the right stuff that way.’ ”

A Pocket Full of… Praise

?????????????????????????????????????????????I’m feeling sentimental today. Perhaps it’s because spring is in the air. No matter. There’s something I want to say: Thank you.

Thank you to my parents for cultivating in me a love of learning, a kind heart and confidence. They inspired me with their strength as they battled – and beat – cancer. They taught me right from wrong, coached my softball teams (you helped me soar, dad), played Barbie with me (I cherish those days, mom) and so much more.

Life humbles one along the way, but their continuous support has kept me strong. I look up to them as role models as I raise my amazing daughters.

Thank you to my third grade teacher. I was the new kid on the block at school and she was the new teacher in town. All of us thought she was one of the coolest adults we had ever met. She made learning fun. What an impact a child’s early learning experiences can have on her future.

Thank you to my fans – and critics. Ok, so I don’t actually have fans, per se. But I do have people who support me no matter what. And critics? We all have them, justified or not. Thank you for helping me to grow and realize that I don’t need your approval.

Thank you to kind strangers who smile at me in passing. I mean, how hard is it?

Thank you to friendly employees at Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks, who truly seem happy to see my girls and me when we’re on a morning adventure for coffee and goodies. That’s customer service.

One more shout out to you dad: Thank you for reminding me from time to time that life is a journey, not a destination.

I appreciate all who have helped pave that journey with wisdom and happiness.

VIDEO: A Look at the Promise Indiana Initiative

Clint Kugler of the Wabash County YMCA discusses the Promise Indiana Initiative. The initiative is helping boost college savings accounts and cultivating a fresh approach to education in the state.

Read a feature on the program in the latest edition of BizVoice.

Vincennes University Partners to Help Bridge Skills Gap

vuBusiness is good at Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc. (SIA) in Lafayette. The plant is expanding, with production of the Impreza set to begin in late 2016.

But there’s a speed bump fast approaching that could cause SIA and similar companies across the state to tap the brakes, if not come to a devastating halt.

The “middle-skills gap” is troubling some of Indiana’s biggest industries: advanced manufacturing, distribution and logistics, and the skilled trades, to name a few. Middle-skills jobs are those that call for more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year degree – and there is a critical shortage of workers with these credentials.

Brad Rhorer, manager of associate development at SIA, says highly-technical positions that require a certification or two-year degree are the most difficult for the company to fill.

“The industrial maintenance positions are very in-depth in knowledge and experience, and a lot of people do not have (skills in) those crafts any longer,” he emphasizes. “And we’ve got an aging workforce, so retirements are looming at the same time we’re expanding. It’s the perfect storm.”

A potential solution, some say, is to better coordinate education curriculum and work-based learning with real-world employer needs.

Read the full story in BizVoice.

Chamber Supports Amendment to RFRA Law

Indiana Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kevin Brinegar reacts to the proposed clarification to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA):

“Our state has suffered tremendously the past week. It was absolutely essential to clarify and affirm that Indiana’s RFRA law does not permit discrimination against any person or group of people. The legislative amendment spells out that Indiana will not permit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. That’s what businesses and individuals from around the state, country and world needed to hear.

“We believe this effort begins to help re-establish Indiana’s identity as a welcoming place and will go a long way toward reversing the tide of negative sentiments that has threatened our state’s economy.

“We encourage the General Assembly to pass this legislation in a bipartisan fashion today to show the nation that Indiana is united in sending the message that our state is a hospitable one which does not discriminate.”​

Organizations Earn IOED Grants for Energy Conservation Efforts

fThe Indiana Office of Energy Development (OED) recently announced seven grantees that will share almost $600,000 to help support their unique, Hoosier-based community energy conservation projects.

Recipients of the 2015 Community Conservation Challenge (CCC) grants are:

Bethany Christian Schools – $100,000
Bethany Christian Schools will utilize its CCC grant dollars to install solar panels on its school roof. It will also install a wind turbine, which will be accomplished through other partnerships the school has established. Bethany Christian Schools will incorporate energy projects and conservation considerations into its student curriculum and community events.

Center for Sustainable Living – $99,989
Five congregations of different faith traditions will install solar panels to reduce their energy costs. These congregations cover a large portion of the state and include the communities of Bloomington, Indianapolis, Jeffersonville, Merrillville and Gary. The Center will share this project’s successes and promote energy conservation with other congregations and faith traditions around the state.

City of Bloomington – $59,381
Five facilities in Bloomington and Ellettsville – including two schools, one park, a fire station and a parking garage – will receive LED lighting upgrades and motion sensors through the CCC grant. The City of Bloomington and Monroe County will reach out to residents through all forms of traditional and social media to teach them how to become more energy efficient.

Evansville Park Foundation – $100,000
The Park Foundation will use its CCC grant dollars to install off-grid, stand-alone solar powered LED lighting with battery backups at Jacobsville Park and the Pigeon Creek Greenway Passage. Neither of these locations has any form of lighting currently. These lights will not only be more energy efficient than traditional forms of lighting, but they will also help to extend park hours and provide enhanced public safety. The Parks Foundation will also reach out to residents about energy efficiency through this project. Vectren Corporation, the local electric utility, has selected this project for further study with the intent to develop an educational outreach plan for consumers.

Indiana Municipal Power Agency (IMPA) – $38,579
LED streetlights will be installed in Dublin (Wayne County) and Williamsport (Warren County) using CCC grant dollars. These LED lights will replace less efficient mercury vapor lamps. IMPA will share project successes and promote energy efficiency with its other 59 member communities and their customers.

Lake Shore Foods Corporation – $100,000
The Karwich and Franklin stores of Al’s Supermarkets in Michigan City will retrofit their lighting to LEDs. This energy efficiency project will be shared with their customers and local residents through “Al’s Good Neighbor Program” which promotes Food, Exercise and Sustainability.

Loftus Robinson – $100,000
Loftus Robinson will install a combined heat and power (CHP) project at The Switch, a mixed-used commercial facility in downtown Fishers. CHP is an integrated and highly efficient energy system that captures the “waste heat” produced by electricity generation. This waste heat is recycled and can be used for additional energy needs like heating or hot water. This system will also provide standby power for emergency lighting and elevator systems. The City of Fishers will partner with Loftus Robinson to educate the public on the project and its benefits for the community.

“We were very pleased with the response to this year’s CCC grant program,” said Tristan Vance, Director of the Indiana Office of Energy Development (OED) and Chief Energy Officer for the State. “This competitive grant program recognizes and encourages collaborative conservation efforts. Perhaps most importantly, the ability to incorporate an educational component into each community project helps tell important energy conservation stories in clear and tangible ways.”

Ivy Tech ‘Switchboard’ to Help Grow Businesses in Monroe County

The Switchboard is an online portal designed to connect entrepreneurs and business owners to the local resources they need to start or grow a business in Monroe County.

It was created through a partnership with The Gayle and Bill Cook Center for Entrepreneurship at Ivy Tech, Bloomington Economic Development Corporation, the City of Bloomington and through grants provided by the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County and Duke Energy.

Anyone interested in being a part of or contributing to Bloomington’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is encouraged to list yourself or your organization as a resource on The Switchboard to allow entrepreneurs to access your business or service (or just connect with you over coffee). To create a profile, just visit the site and click the “list a resource” button on the home page.

Furthermore, see the video below to learn more about The Gayle and Bill Cook Center for Entrepreneurship at Ivy Tech’s Bloomington campus: