All About the Innovation Districts

Larry Gigerich, executive managing director at Ginovus and an Indiana Chamber board member, recently wrote about innovation districts and their importance – accessing talent, collaborating with higher educational institutions and partnering with other private sector companies.

Below are three of the lists he shared as part of that writing:

Innovation District Characteristics

  • Proximity to higher educational research assets (university, college, hospital, etc.)
  • Presence of research based organizations (non-profit and/or for profit)
  • Location of technology enabled company facilities
  • Magnets (quality of place assets) for talent
  • Available real estate for development
  • Access to the different forms of transportation
  • Co-working space for researchers
  • Retail services to support people working in the area

 Well-Established U.S. Innovation Districts

  • The Cleveland Health-Tech Corridor
  • Kendall Square in Cambridge
  • University City in Philadelphia
  • Research Triangle Park in Raleigh-Durham
  • Medical Alley in Rochester
  • University Research Park in Madison
  • Research Park in Salt Lake City
  • South Lake Union in Seattle

 Developing Innovation Districts

  •  Cortex in St. Louis
  • 16 Tech in Indianapolis
  • Future City in Detroit
  • Akron Innovation District
  • Syracuse Innovation Zone
  • The Innovation District of Chattanooga
  • University Research Park in Ames
  • Yanke Research Park in Boise

Chamber Staff Comings and Goings

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce is just a few years away from celebrating 100 years (the organization was founded in 1922). Over nearly a century, there have been countless staff changes and evolutions to help move the organization forward.

Janet Boston

Today, we say “thank you and farewell” to Janet Boston, who is retiring as executive director of the Indiana INTERNnet program, which is managed by the Indiana Chamber. Boston has been in the role for seven years and caps off an outstanding career in both the non-profit and for-profit sectors. Read more about Boston’s impact with the organization here. The Indiana Chamber and Indiana INTERNnet Board sent Boston out in style – with a luncheon and office celebration, and presented her with a custom necklace in appreciation of her taking the program to new heights.

Mark Lawrance, who has most recently been advocating in the economic development and technology areas, will replace Boston as interim executive director of Indiana INTERNnet, starting June 1. Lawrance will be retiring later this year and is expected to stay in the interim role until the fall.

Additionally, as previously announced, the Indiana Chamber has partnered with the Wellness Council of Indiana and Gov. Eric Holcomb’s administration to help combat the state’s opioid epidemic. The new Indiana Workforce Recovery initiative is a joint effort among the groups and is led by Jennifer Pferrer, executive director of the Wellness Council. The initiative provides employers with resources and guidance on how to help their employees who are impacted by the opioid epidemic. Allyson Blandford has come on board at the Wellness Council to support the initiative as project manager.

Also at the Wellness Council, Madie Newman has joined as program coordinator for the Indiana Healthy Communities initiative. The role has been created to support the organization in helping communities coordinate wellness efforts, ensuring healthier citizens and acting as a draw for economic development opportunities.

Abbi Espe rounds out our membership team. She was hired this spring as the manager of member services for northeastern Indiana and will focus on bringing new companies into the fold.

On the education front, the grant-funded college and career readiness position, held by Shelley Huffman, ends today. Lobbyist Caryl Auslander, who handled education and workforce matters, has left for new endeavors.

Greg Ellis, vice president of energy and environmental policy, is now responsible for federal lobbying. Members of the Indiana Chamber’s advocacy team are assuming Auslander and Lawrance’s other policy committee duties on a temporary basis until new staff is hired later this summer.

We wish everyone well and good luck in their future activities and look forward to the contributions of our new team members to continue the important work and mission of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce in “cultivating a world-class environment which provides economic opportunity and prosperity for the people of Indiana and their enterprises.”

For our complete staff listing, visit the web site at: https://www.indianachamber.com/about/staff-listing/

VIDEO: ‘Paris is Only the Beginning’

Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar comments on the enhanced connectivity to and from Indianapolis thanks to an increasing number of direct flights from the Indianapolis International Airport. Those locations include the west coast and, of course, the city’s first international direct flight to Paris, France, which had its inaugural flight May 25. Watch:

 

 

Tech Talk: OPT May Be Partial Answer to Talent Needs

Those in the talent attraction business – and who isn’t these days – probably know about the H-1B visa program and the cap challenges that come with it. Less well known in general, but surging in popularity among foreign students, is the Optional Practice Training (OPT) program.

OPT allows foreign graduates to seek temporary work anywhere in the country that is directly related to their field of study. According to the State Science & Technology Institute, foreign STEM graduates participating in OPT grew by 400% from 2008 to 2016. In recent years, OPT approvals outpaced H-1B visas.

The leading regions retaining foreign students graduating from local colleges are New York (85%), Seattle (84%) and Honolulu (83%). The metro areas with the largest share of foreign graduates coming from other metros are San Jose (71%), Kansas City (69%) and Peoria, Illinois (66%).

An in-depth story from the Pew Research Center explains it all. Below are a few excerpts.

More than half (53%) of the foreign graduates approved for employment specialized in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) data.

Foreign students obtaining authorization to remain and work in the U.S. after graduation come from all corners of the globe, but the majority of them hold citizenship in Asia. Students from India, China and South Korea made up 57% of all OPT participants between 2004 and 2016.

While both programs give foreign workers temporary employment authorization in the U.S., they are different in a number of ways. For instance, only foreign students on an F-1 visa with a higher education degree from a U.S. college or university are eligible for the OPT program, whereas any foreign worker with a degree that is equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree or higher is permitted to apply for the H-1B visa.

Also, unlike the H-1B visa program, which imposes an annual cap of 65,000 visas to private companies sponsoring foreign workers, there is no cap on the number of approvals available under the OPT program; all F-1 visa holders are eligible to apply. Furthermore, foreign students do not require employer sponsorship to apply for OPT, while the H-1B visa program requires employers to directly sponsor the foreign workers they intend to hire.

Taking a Wellness Inventory

Many organizations attempt to execute an operating plan for workplace wellness without the knowledge of what they even have to offer. There is no need to build duplicate programs or commit limited resources to something that already is working well!

Take inventory of your current workplace wellness programs to help educate you and your champions about what is already occurring. Look for programs that are both employer-sponsored and more “grassroots” programs that have developed organically and informally. Consider any policies (i.e. smoke-free campus) or environmental characteristics (i.e. safe/accessible stairways) that promote overall well-being.

Once you have a good understanding of the programs, efforts and resources your workplace already has, reflect on the following questions:

  • What has made these programs successful?
  • What can we learn so we can build on their success?
  • How do we keep momentum going?
  • How will we evaluate improvements?

Spend the time to supplement other programs that support your wellness mission – and focus more on initiatives that go beyond physical wellness. Consider career development programs, financial wellness, support for a community project and simply creating a way to get to know fellow employees in a more social way. Inventories should take place at least once a year.

One of the key AchieveWELL steps to managing a successful initiative is creating a supportive environment. Knowing your inventory and keeping up to date on that inventory is a critical success factor. Use the Wellness Inventory developed by the Wellness Council of Indiana to make certain you are promoting everything that is already occurring at work.

#BizVoice Extra: ‘Indy Kronite Proud’

When I prepare for an interview for BizVoice®, I try not to formulate my interview questions with specific expectations in mind.

That doesn’t always work, of course. I’m human and sometimes my research leads me to expect people to react a certain way to a story topic or interview question.

When I started researching Kronos, Inc. for a story about the company’s Indianapolis Technology Center being a newcomer to the Best Places to Work in Indiana list, I saw the company has garnered a lot of accolades over the years (including making it on the Forbes Best 100 Companies to Work For a few years running).

My expectations were that my story might be sort of low-hanging fruit for the worldwide company with 5,000 employees and headquartered in Lowell, Massachusetts.

Well, I’m woman enough to admit that I was very wrong in my assumptions. In fact, I don’t remember another interview I’ve conducted for the Best Places to Work in Indiana program where the people have been more excited than they were at Kronos.

The four people I interviewed included two practice directors that manage the Indianapolis office, the senior manager of human resources and another manager. And ohmygosh, they could not have been happier about the recognition, a first for the Indianapolis location.

Christopher Hicks, practice manager of enterprise professional services, and Margaret Mitchell, senior vice president of human resources, relate the feeling of the Indianapolis office’s first award to being validated on social media.

“The validation; it’s receiving the little blue check (mark). We are verified here in Indianapolis as a company that provides opportunity for growth, we work on professional development, we have a great leadership team. We’re just excited,” Hicks told me at the time.

It’s the first year the company applied for Indiana’s Best Places to Work program and was championed by Mitchell, who found out about the recognition when she was on vacation. She recalls jumping up and down in excitement next to a swimming pool with her son nearby as she received the news on the phone.

“We’re really excited. It validates for us, the things we work on. It’s again nice to celebrate the success and remember that we do have something special here,” she said.

The Kronites, as they refer to themselves throughout the company, also invited me to attend a celebratory dessert bar. Company CEO Aron Ain was flying in for the occasion and addressed the crowd.

As I listened to Ain congratulate his Indianapolis employees and urge them to continue working on behalf of the clients to provide the best service possible, it was something else Ain said that stuck with me: take care of your family first.

For a CEO of a 5,000-person company to fly in and recognize employees for their efforts is impressive enough, but for his underlying message to be “you are important, and your family and your health are the most important things to me” – wow.

No wonder this company is garnering external awards and internal recognition left and right.

One other tidbit from my interviews with the Kronites (aside from the fact that we operate in the same building in downtown Indianapolis and I bump into them every so often, usually receiving a smile or a hug) is the one part I couldn’t fit into my story: how do they handle the Colts versus the Patriots rivalry, since the company is headquartered near Boston?

Matt Baker, one of the Indianapolis Technology Center practice directors, acknowledges the rivalry.

“The culture in Lowell is very passionate about the Patriots,” he admits. “The last couple of years have been challenging. We had a good run.”

The Indianapolis Technology Center’s focus is more on college sports, offers practice director Doug Ding. (He and Baker attended Purdue University together.) Conference rooms in the center are named after college team mascots, for example.

Hicks, originally from Chicago, doesn’t have much stake in the long-standing NFL rivalry between the Colts and Patriots.

“I’m a Bears guy,” he says. “But I see it all the time. Most of our executives are based out of the Lowell office and they’re huge Patriots fans and there’s a little bit of ribbing back and forth.”

Mitchell doesn’t hesitate: “Always Colts. Always.”

Revamped Indiana HR Resources Web Site Available

Raise your hand if you like saving money and raise your other hand if you like helping your company save money.

(We know you have both your hands in the air right now – go ahead and put them down if you’re getting stares from your co-workers.)

We’ve got great news for those of you who are in the process of putting your hands back down: You can be the star of the company budget by accessing valuable human resources materials at a large discount through the Indiana Chamber’s newly-updated Indiana HR Resources web site.

What are some of those resources? For starters, you can access 15 Indiana HR online guides. That includes the Employment Law Handbook, Model Employee Policies Handbook, Indiana Employment Forms and more, which is a $1,000 value over purchasing the 15 ePublications individually.

In addition, you’ll receive the latest HR news, employment law legislative alerts, the HR Monthly Messenger and have access to employment law/labor attorneys and advisors and HR/employment forms and checklists.

You can also take advantage of a 10% discount on Indiana Chamber publications and regulatory compliance training seminars and conferences throughout the year.

We’ve redesigned the web site and added much more for your money. Those interested in a subscription to the site can access Indiana HR Resources for 12 months for $599. Indiana Chamber member companies can subscribe for $449 for 12 months.

To top it all off, there’s a 10-day free trial to test the waters.

Subscribe online at www.hrindiana.com or call (800) 824-6885 to sign up or for more information.

Women Gain Legislative Seats

The share of women holding state legislative seats across the country reached 20% following the 1992 election. It took 26 more years for that number to climb past 25%. The National Conference of State Legislatures breaks down the numbers:

By the Numbers

  • 1,866: Female legislators in the 50 states
  • 1,141: Democrats
  • 704: Republicans
  • 8: Third party
  • 13: Nonpartisan
  • 66: Female leaders in the 50 states
  • 18.9%: Leaders who are women
  • 44: Democratic leaders
  • 22: Republican leaders
  • 6: House speakers
  • 3: Senate presidents

States with the highest percentage of female legislators:

  1. Arizona, 41.1%
  2. Vermont, 40%
  3. Nevada, 39.7%
  4. Colorado, 38%
  5. Washington, 37.4%
  6. Illinois, 35%
  7. Maine, 33.9%
  8. Minnesota, 32.3%
  9. Oregon, 32.2%
  10. Maryland, 31.9%

BizVoice Ad BOGO for Small Businesses

Everyone loves a good bargain; and we’ve got one for you, but it’s a limited-time offer and expires after next Friday, May 25.

As part of our Small Business Showcase, organizations with 50 or fewer employees can take advantage of the buy one, get one free quarter-page advertising special for the two BizVoice® summer issues. The quarter-page investment (just $1,020) includes the print and digital versions of both issues.

“While the number of businesses advertising in BizVoice continues to grow each year, we want to make sure companies of all sizes have the ability to reach our influential audiences,” states Tim Brewer, BizVoice Advertising Director. “Helping businesses grow has been at the core of the Indiana Chamber’s mission throughout its history.”

To take advantage of this offer, contact Brewer – tbrewer@indianachamber.com, (317) 496-0704 – by Friday, May 25. The July/August issue ad will be invoiced in July for $1,020, and the September/October issue is free.

Connect your small business with the Indiana Chamber audience!

Tech Talk: Making Their Mark Among the ‘Best’

We shared in late February the growing number of tech and innovation organizations being named among the Best Places to Work in Indiana. While 26 of the 125 winners for 2018 self-identified as being in the tech industry, a true sign of the times is the fact that many others are consultants or service providers in the tech/innovation areas.

At the awards celebration and unveiling of the rankings earlier this month, it was good to hear the names of so many familiar companies (Sharpen and Formstack each placed second in their respective size categories, to name just two; check out the full lists to see many more), as well as quite a few newcomers. The names are familiar due to their business growth and achievements; the Best Places honor signifies strong internal cultures that match and propel the external success.

You can check out the full coverage of all the companies in the current BizVoice® magazine. Some key stories we would suggest:

  • Social media: Discover how four Best Places companies effectively utilize online communications strategies
  • Welcome aboard: A key factor in building a strong workplace culture is doing everything possible to get new team members off to a fast start
  • Getting to Know: Bastian Solutions and Perficient
  • 2018 Newcomer: Kronos
  • Informative infographics: Program results on work-life balance, family-friendly benefits and survey benchmarks

In today’s battle for talent, Best Places to Work recognition can be a differentiator. Can you afford to stay on the sidelines any longer? Learn more about the 2019 program at www.bestplacestoworkIN.com.