Get Your Tickets Now for 2017 Legislative Dinner Featuring Ann Compton

Join top policymakers and business leaders from throughout the state at the premier legislative event of the year – our 2017 Legislative Dinner on March 14.

More than 500 of Indiana’s most influential business leaders, legislators and government officials will come together at the Legislative Dinner to discuss topics vital to Indiana businesses. Register today for the leading networking event of the 2017 Indiana General Assembly session!

Keynote Speaker
From her front seat at the White House for ABC News, Ann Compton covered seven presidents as well as innumerable life-changing and globe-altering events – from the end of the Cold War to the political dramas that made the daily headlines.

Compton will give a historical perspective of today’s global events while offering a look forward to the impact of current events and her first-hand knowledge of the people and issues that are shaping the future of this country.

Program Description
Lifeline Data Centers Reception: 6 – 7 p.m.
Dinner: 7-9 pm

Investment
Gold Table: $2,250
Standard Table: $1,500
Individual Ticket: $149

Buy your tickets online.

Smaller State Revenue Collections Continue: How Will It Impact 2017 Legislative Session?

Each December the state budget makers receive a revenue forecast prepared by group of very knowledgeable and conscientious fiscal analysts, economists and academics. The group considers economic predictions, uses elaborate models and applies involved equations to generate what has proven to be remarkably accurate predictions of how much the state will collect in taxes over the next two years. Every other year, including this year, their numbers serve as the basis for building the state’s biennium budget. While lawmakers will debate how the projected revenues should be spent, Indiana is fortunate that lawmakers accept the consensus of these experts and do not debate how much money there is to spend – as is the case in many other states.

Forecasters project that Indiana will take in $31.5 billion in FY2018 and FY2019. This is around a billion dollars more than what was projected for the last biennium. However, as good as the predictions have been historically, FY2017 estimates turned out to be off the mark by $378 million. Low gas prices were a major contributor to the inaccuracy. Unexpectedly cheap gas meant less sales tax on those less expensive fill-ups.

When coupled with generally weaker sales tax collections, the FY2017 (ending in July) collections are now expected to be about 2.5% less than earlier projections. That money will have to be made up in the first year of the biennium, from the projected 2.9% year-over-year (FY2018 over FY2017) growth. Fortunately, the forecasters see a little better growth, 3.9%, in the second year of the biennium (FY2019). The bottom line is that the money available to cover growing expenses and new funding desires will be very modest, somewhere around $1 billion – that’s only about 3% more money for the entire two-year period. And essentially it all comes in the second year, so look for budget makers in the 2017 legislative session to be very frugal in FY2018 and then build in some increases in FY2019.

Economic uncertainty, sluggish sales tax collections, further diminishing gaming revenues and other factors will all put additional pressure on the budget process. As these things play out, the forecasters could shift their numbers a little more before they update their two-year projections in mid-April, just a couple of weeks before the budget has to be passed by the General Assembly.

Latest on ISTEP and ‘A-F’ School Grades

The ISTEP Alternatives Panel has made its final recommendations on how to replace ISTEP, which was legislatively determined to sunset in the fall of 2017 after scoring, technical and mismanagement issues plagued the exam the past two years.

These recommendations include: students in grades 3-8 to take one English and math exam at the end of the school year, and 10th grade students to take English, Algebra 1 and biology at the end of the school year. The tests will be taken once and not split into two testing times in the winter and spring.

One of the most important recommendations was to recognize that national testing experts advised that it takes a minimum of two years to fully implement a new testing system throughout the state. So it is very likely that we will see legislation during the upcoming 2017 legislative session to undo the sunset provision.

The recommendations received wide support from 21 of the 23 members of the panel, made up by a majority of educators. The two “no” votes were by Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz and Ayanna Wilson Coles, a Pike Township educator appointed by Ritz. These recommendations now go to the Legislature, which can choose to use them during the 2017 legislative session. The Indiana Chamber strongly advocated last year
to have a business representative appointed to the panel, and we would like to thank our board member, Marilyn Moran-Townsend of Fort Wayne, for all of her work and dedication to the panel and helping lead the collaborative effort that resulted in the recommendations.

This week, the State Board of Education released school A-F grades which, as anticipated, were lower than in previous years. And while expected, it is important to note that it is very difficult to compare this year’s scores to the scores in 2015 for two important reasons. First, last year, the Legislature (with the Indiana Chamber’s support) decided to protect schools from the lower ISTEP scores due to the test mismanagement and scoring
issues. This “hold harmless” provision stated that 2015 grades were changed only if they improved from 2014; otherwise schools were able to hold onto the higher grade. So the 2016 scores released this week are the actual first show of true impact of the more rigorous assessment based on the newer and more-challenging college and career ready standards. Second, this year the State Board of Education determined school grades
based on a new formula that equally weighs growth and proficiency.

While there has already been significant discussion on whether to “hold-harmless” for this year’s ISTEP exam, the U.S. Department of Education has already stated that such a provision would not be allowed. The Indiana Chamber will continue to push legislators on the importance of assessments AND accountability – for teachers, schools and students in the 2017 legislative session and beyond.

On the Passing of Longtime Indiana State Senator Larry Borst

Indiana Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kevin Brinegar comments on the death of longtime Indiana state senator Larry Borst. Brinegar worked for nine years as fiscal analyst for the Senate Finance Committee chaired by Borst:

“Larry Borst was a truly dedicated public servant. He was instrumental in critical pieces of legislation at the local level (UniGov in Marion County in the 1960s and Mayor Bill Hudnut’s transformative efforts in the decades to follow) as well as statewide (major tax reforms in 1973 and 2002, and Gov. Bob Orr’s A+ education plan in 1987 to name just a few). His efforts helped transform Indianapolis into the dynamic city it has become and Indiana into a great state for doing business and creating jobs.

“Senator Borst studied legislation intently and knew the details and intricacies of every bill that came before his committee – often more so than the authors and proponents. I learned so much from him in regard to state government and the importance of being prepared. It was a privilege and an honor to work for and with him.”

Borst, in a BizVoice® magazine interview upon being named the Indiana Chamber’s 2002 Government Leader of the Year, said:

“The more complex it is, the more interested I am. This (the 2002 tax restructuring that was ultimately passed in special session) was a complicated thing, but that’s what I love. In the end, there were going to be no miracles for today or tomorrow. We had to look long term and we did.”

Remembering Bill Hudnut; My Interview with Him on Getting the Colts

Indianapolis Mayor Bill Hudnut was the first mayor I have a memory of. When I read of his passing over the weekend, it took me back to all the landmark accomplishments that took place during his 16 years in office.

I also thought about the lively and interesting phone interview I had with him in the summer of 2011. The Chamber’s BizVoice® magazine was doing a section on famed business deals and I got the best one: the Circle City landing the Colts.

I found Mayor Hudnut more than willing to take a stroll down memory lane and share his opinions.

An excerpt from the interview:

“We thought we’d get a franchise because the league was expanding, not the relocation of an existing one. (Owner) Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders moved (the team) to Los Angeles and, secondly, there was a strike, so they weren’t going to expand – which certainly was sort of a blow to us. But we were pregnant with the thing; we had to keep on building it as an expansion to the convention center. That’s the way it was promoted to the public – that it would justify itself whether or not it was used 12 days a year for a football game.”

Read the full Q&A (you have to love his detail and memory of the events). Also read the full BizVoice article.

Chamber Comments on Recommendations from Transportation Funding Task Force

Indiana Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kevin Brinegar comments on the release of recommendations from the FIRSST (Funding Indiana’s Roads for a Stronger Safer Tomorrow) task force:

“The task force has provided additional emphasis on three key priorities: today’s revenue sources are not adequate; long-term funding is required to meet both current maintenance and future new construction needs; and new funding should be based on a user-fee approach.

“We support the work of the task force and are prepared to assist legislators and the Holcomb administration in passing data-driven legislation that will help drive Indiana’s economic future. Reliable transportation infrastructure is critical for companies and the jobs they provide across the state.”

I’m Crowdfunding Nostalgia, and It is Delicious

In the midst of holiday package arrivals at my house, I recently found an unexpected one: a 12-pack of sweetened sparkling water that I had crowdfunded almost two years ago (and nearly forgotten about).

How could I forget, I ask myself? This is no ordinary fizzy drink. This is pure nostalgia in a bottle; a beautiful, light-blue, tear-drop shaped glass bottle containing the sweet nectar of my youth: Clearly Canadian. When I was young and was allowed to pick a drink when we’d stop at the gas station, I always reached for Clearly Canadian (usually the Mountain Blackberry flavor). It was the best.

At some point in the early 2000s, it was gone. (The company launched in 1987, and was also responsible for a wacky space-age drink of the late 1990s: Orbitz, which resembled a lava lamp complete with gelatinous floating blobs, and was only on the market for about a year.)

Alas, I moved on with my life and mostly forgot about the clear soda beverage, until May of 2015, when suddenly, there it was in my Facebook newsfeed: Clearly Canadian was coming back to life! And I could help through crowdfunding!

I had only crowdfunded one other thing (if you’ve seen the Veronica Mars movie, you’re welcome); and it was such a fun experience to see that come to fruition, and to realize I had a teeny, tiny part in making it happen.

Crowdfunding is still a fairly young concept. It has been around since about 2008 and emerged as a response to banks lending less to artists and entertainers in the wake of the economic recession, according to a World Bank report from 2013. It has expanded far past entertainment, however, and the World Bank report notes that by 2025, the potential for crowdfunding investment is $96 billion a year.

And in Indiana, rules passed in 2014 allow Hoosier entrepreneurs to raise up to $2 million, and investors to invest up to $5,000 per company (the JOBS Act of 2012 dealt with federal rules for crowdfunding).

Of course, there are risks associated with crowdfunding. As an investor, sometimes things don’t go smoothly and you risk the company or product not being executed. That was definitely the case for Clearly Canadian. Expected delivery dates (September 2015, then October 2015, then November 2015) came and went. Email updates mostly stopped. Apparently there were problems with vendors and at one point the production facility shut down in the middle of a production run.

Early in 2016 there was an update, but again, nothing happened. I basically thought I’d lost my $30 (the base-line contribution for this campaign was around $30 for a 12-pack). C’est la vie.

Until earlier this week, when I received a shipment on my doorstep. I’m not ashamed to admit there was squealing and dancing on my part. I am slightly ashamed to admit the first thing I did was take a photo of my prized possession and post it on Facebook to make my fellow ’90s friends jealous. It worked, they were jealous (except for the one that also participated in the campaign. We did a virtual “cheers” with our drinks).

Do you crowdsource? Has it all gone smoothly? Share your stories! I’m interested to hear your experiences, too.

Pre-Order Indiana Chamber’s 2017 Legislative Directory App or Handbook

The Indiana Chamber’s 2017 Legislative Directory allows Hoosiers interested in legislative affairs to stay connected with their state legislators during the upcoming General Assembly session. The publication is available as an app, for Android and iPhone users, and the traditional booklet format.

The Legislative Directory includes bios, contact information, committee assignments and social media profiles for House and Senate members. Color headshots, seating charts and leadership lists are also provided.

The Legislative Directory app has several additional benefits – most notably it will be current and ready for use on the first day of the General Assembly in January; that’s weeks before the handbook is scheduled to ship. And the app will have real-time updates throughout the session.

The app is available for purchase at www.indianachamber.com/ldapp (not via app stores). Cost starts at $8.99 per download; bulk discounts are available. The handbook can be pre-ordered at www.indianachamber.com/ld; bulk discounts are also offered, with the price starting at $9.99 per copy.

Ball State: New Clinical Trials Examine How Exercise Helps Us Down to Our Molecules

Todd Trappe (left) and Scott Trappe (right) work on a research project at Ball State’s Human Performance Laboratory.

Ball State University will partner with two other major research institutions as part of a national project to uncover how exercise changes the body on a molecular level, which could lead to people engaging in more targeted and optimized activities.

Ball State’s Human Performance Laboratory (HPL) will form one clinical trial site with the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Center for Exercise Medicine and the Translational Research Institute for Metabolism and Diabetes in Orlando, Florida. Their work is part of the Molecular Transducers of Physical Activity in Humans program (MoTrPac), which will be financed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Common Fund.

The three partners will share a projected $6.6 million over six years, 2017-23, as part of a $170 million NIH investment for the largest, most complex and highly coordinated human exercise physiology training study in the field’s history.

“The NIH initiative is a moonshot opportunity for the exercise community, and the Human Performance Laboratory is honored to be part of the team,” said Scott Trappe, the John and Janice Fisher Endowed Chair of Exercise Science and director of the Human Performance Laboratory in Ball State’s newly formed College of Health. “This is a new frontier that will move the field forward to better understand the health benefits of exercise.”

Under the $170 million project, 19 grants will support researchers working around the country, including seven clinical trial sites and several analytical sites to collect samples from people of different races, ethnic groups, sex, ages and fitness levels.

“We have long understood that exercising is beneficial to our overall health; however, we still do not understand why,” NIH director Francis S. Collins said in a statement. “The development of a so-called molecular map of circulating signals produced by physical activity will allow us to discover, at a fundamental level, how physical activity affects our health.

Under the national research initiative, researchers will partner to develop plans to recruit people for clinical trials, identify how to analyze tissue samples and select animal models to best replicate human studies.

Investigators across the country will recruit a total of about 3,000 healthy men and women of different fitness levels, ages, races and ethnicities. Each clinical site will enroll and study 450 to 500 participants. Researchers will collect blood, urine and tissue samples from the volunteers, who will perform resistance or aerobic exercises as part of the national study.

During the first year, clinical site teams will finalize plans and responsibilities. Trappe said HPL will quickly ramp up operations, including adding more researchers and post-doctoral students, to begin work in 2017. He will be a co-director of the test site; Todd Trappe, a Ball State exercise science professor, will be a co-principal investigator for the site.

Toby Chambers, a first-year doctoral student in Ball State’s human bioenergetics program, believes the NIH project underscores the national reputations Ball State and HPL have developed.

“As a doctoral student in the Human Performance Laboratory, I am really excited about the learning opportunities that will result from the research team’s involvement,” he said. “The unique opportunities this presents to the research team are why individuals, like myself, continue to be attracted to the HPL at Ball State.”

Experience Eli Lilly’s Humble Beginnings at Indiana Historical Society

If you haven’t been to an Indiana Historical Society “You Are There” exhibit, you need to rethink some things. They are always artfully done and make for an incredibly engaging way to learn history.

The new “Eli Lilly at the Beginning” experience is no different. I visited the facility in November for a “Getting to Know” feature in BizVoice (stay tuned for the January/February 2017 edition). Actor Mark McNees was quite knowledgeable, both in and out of character as Col. Lilly, and helped me see Lilly in a way I hadn’t before. Like many central Indiana natives, I’ve always heard about the company and its impact on the pharmaceutical industry — and its dedication to philanthropy — but I was admittedly ignorant about its founder and his humble beginnings. This experience allows visitors to interact with not only Lilly, but his first employees (he only had three) and his son, J.K.

He developed his lab in 1876 in what is the heart of today’s downtown Indianapolis. But the industry climate was quite treacherous.

“In the papers, they called Indiana the dumping ground for bad pharmaceuticals,” McNees explained. “So they were what we call patent medicines – not patents like Lilly would have today – patents were like snake oils. So anybody could say ‘I came up with this hair elixir’ and all you needed to advertise in the paper was a testimonial.

“A lot of times they would go to a family member, who’d say, ‘I tried Uncle Joe’s hair tonic and I grew hair,’” he adds. “So they would sell it through wagons or stores. There was zero regulation at the time. Also, people were making medicines incorrectly and often killing people. We dealt with things like belladonna (deadly night shade), opium, strychnine, things like that.”

McNees relayed that Lilly grew his business largely because of his reputation for quality and consistency.

For more on the experience, which is scheduled to run until January 2018, visit the IHS web site.