Give Me Liberty! Give Me a 51st State

A television station in Washington state recently reported that representatives there would like to divide their state — with the eastern half becoming the state of Liberty. Legislation includes the following: “Since statehood, the lifestyles, culture and economies of eastern and western Washington have been very distinct and dramatically different.”

The TV outlet reports a tech, service-oriented economy in Seattle and Olympia (the capital), while Spokane anchors the east with roots in mining, forestry and agribusiness.

Not surprisingly, forming a new state is not a simple process. But shockingly, at least 12 new states have been proposed at one time or another (according to State Legislatures magazine). Among the offerings: South Alaska, South Florida, North Maine and Superior (Michigan’s Upper Peninsula).

State Calls on Students to Take a ‘Roadtrip’ to Career Success

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education has announced a new initiative, “Roadtrip Indiana,” that aims to help Hoosier students make more informed decisions about their futures through intentional career exploration and direct engagement with employers across the state.

“Our goal with ‘Roadtrip Indiana’ is two-fold: empowering our students to find their career paths while showcasing the dynamic range of job opportunities right here in Indiana,” said Commissioner Teresa Lubbers. The effort is being launched as part of the state’s annual “Career Ready” campaign that promotes greater career exploration and work-based learning opportunities for Hoosier students.

Developed as part of the long-running Public Television program Roadtrip Nation, the Roadtrip Indiana spin-off will follow three Hoosier students on a journey across Indiana as they explore their career interests through interviews with employers in a variety of high-growth sectors. The Roadtrip Indiana initiative will also include classroom resources for schools and a Roadtrip Nation “Share Your Road” platform to engage more employers in sharing their stories.

Students interested in joining the Indiana Roadtrip can apply online through May 22. Applicants must be at least 18 years old and pursuing – or planning to pursue – some form of education or training beyond high school (two- or four-year college, vocational school, trade school, etc.). Applicants must be available to commit to two weeks of travel in August 2017. All travel expenses, plus a daily stipend for food, are paid for by Roadtrip Nation.

Indiana road-trippers will be selected in July 2017, and the two-week trip across Indiana in Roadtrip Nation’s iconic, green RV will take place in August. The documentary will air on public television in 2018, with footage also appearing on other video platforms. The state will begin engaging Indiana employers to contribute to the online “Share Your Road” platform this coming fall, with the classroom resources available to local schools beginning in 2018.

Roadtrip Indiana Partners
Led by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, Roadtrip Indiana is made possible with business, government and philanthropic support. Roadtrip Indiana partners include the Strada Education Network, Cummins, First Source Bank, TechPoint, EmployIndy, the Indiana Department of Education, the Indiana Department of Workforce Development and the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

About the Career Ready Campaign
Career Ready is an annual public awareness campaign that kick offs each spring to engage Hoosier students in meaningful career exploration activities and work-based learning experiences – like internships – that help them prepare for the future. Educators, local businesses and community partners can take advantage of the free Career Ready resources available online.

About Roadtrip Nation
Roadtrip Nation, known for its New York Times best-selling career guide, award-winning television series, extensive online content archive and innovative classroom curriculum, is a career exploration organization that empowers people to define their own roads in life. Combining self-reflection with real-world exposure, Roadtrip Nation’s tools enable individuals to connect their interests to compatible life pathways and find meaningful work. Learn more at RoadtripNation.com and RoadtripNation.org.

Behind Indiana’s Impressive CEO Ranking

Many of you likely saw the news yesterday about Indiana maintaining its No. 5 overall ranking – and tops in the Midwest – in Chief Executive magazine’s 13th annual Best & Worst States for Business survey. A few things that might have been missed:

  • As the name indicates, these rankings are based on CEO perceptions. It’s good for Indiana to be regarded so highly overall by the group making ultimate business decisions, but it also leads to few changes for most states
  • Texas was No. 1 for the 13th straight year and Florida No. 2 for the fifth year in a row. North Carolina (despite the turmoil over its since-repealed transgender bathroom issue) and South Carolina also topped Indiana
  • At the bottom, California was at No. 50 for the sixth year in a row. New York and Illinois were next in line
  • There has been some movement, however, in the middle. Ohio, now at No. 11, was No. 41 in 2011 and No. 22 just two years ago. On the other end of the spectrum, Louisiana was No. 7 in 2015 and No. 33 this time around
  • Indiana’s individual category rankings included: Workforce quality, No. 8 (although we know there is much work to do in this area); taxes and regulation, No. 14 (we would have expected to be a little higher there); and living environment, No. 16
  • Industry rankings were also part of the survey. Indiana was second in manufacturing and 10th in energy

Larry Gigerich, executive managing director of Fishers-based Ginovus and chair of the Indiana Chamber’s economic development committee, was quoted in the release of the rankings. He said simply, “The top-ranking states have continued to implement public policy supporting economic development to ensure that they remain as leaders.”

Complete rankings are available online.

A Flurry of Executive Orders

President Trump’s number of executive orders has now topped 30; a look at the latest that occurred during the week:

  • America First Offshore Energy Strategy – Akin to a study committee, it directs Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review the current five-year development plan on the Outer Continental Shelf for offshore oil and gas exploration, as well as review the regulations and permitting process for development and seismic research. Zinke also will take comments from the public in addition to conducting his own examination – probably through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with input from the Department of Exterior and the Environmental Protection Agency. The order also prevents Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross from designating any new or expanding existing marine monuments and/or sanctuaries. Most likely, President Trump – even if he wins another term – will be out of office before anything could really change in this area.
  • Establishment of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy – The goal is strengthening domestic manufacturing and reducing the trade deficit. This directive puts Peter Navarro, President Trump’s principal trade adviser, in a permanent post – one enforcing the “Buy American” policies the President has established as a priority. On a related note, signed the same day was the Order Addressing Trade Agreement Violations and Abuses. “As far as I can tell, there has never been a systematic evaluation of what has been the impact of the World Trade Organization agreement on the country as an integrated whole,” Ross said during the press announcement. The Indiana Chamber strongly supports free trade agreements that create free and fair trade for the United States. We believe that international trade touches Indiana business of all sizes at some level. With 95% of the world’s consumers outside the U.S., Indiana and the nation would be shortsighted not to recognize the benefits of maintaining and even expanding our commerce ties with other countries.
  • Establishment of the American Technology Council – The objective is to help the government transform and modernize its digital services. President Trump will preside over the group, which will give “advice to the president related to policy decisions” regarding our government’s use of information technology.
  • Order Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty – Undoubtedly heavily influenced by Vice President Mike Pence, this directive offers relief to those groups that object on religious grounds to the Affordable Health Care Act provision mandating employers to provide certain health services, including contraception. They now can lawfully not abide by this provision. The order also allows the Internal Revenue Service to exercise “maximum enforcement discretion” over the Johnson amendment, which prohibits tax-exempt religious entities from stating political endorsements or opposition to a candidate.

Budget Deal Reached in Congress – But Process Broken

The House and Senate passed a budget deal to secure federal funding until the end of September 2017 last week. The House passed the funding measure by a vote of 309 to 118 on Wednesday, and the Senate followed suit 79-18. It is important to note that the Indiana delegation was divided – and not by political party – on the $1.1 trillion spending proposal.

Republican House members Jim Banks (IN-03), Trey Hollingsworth (IN-09) and Todd Rokita (IN-04) voted against the measure, while both House Democrat members André Carson (IN-07) and Pete Visclosky (IN-01) voted yes with the rest of the Hoosier delegation.

Congressman Hollingsworth released the following statement after casting his vote against the continuing resolution. “The spending bill that was brought before the House of Representatives today failed, yet again, to address the conservative principles that Hoosiers and Americans demanded to see this past November. For this reason, I voted against the $1.1 trillion spending measure that neglected critical priorities such as our nation’s nearly $20 trillion debt.”

Similarly, Congressman Banks added: “This legislation fails to properly address our $20 trillion national debt and reduce the size and scope of the federal government. As work immediately begins on next year’s spending bills, I am hopeful that Congress will follow the regular budget order and work with the Trump Administration to cut spending and change the Washington status quo.”

Despite passage of this funding measure, negotiations will begin again soon to pass a budget starting October 1 – with many of the same arguments on spending to be rehashed. But this has become all too familiar. Congress has regularly failed to meet the deadlines required by the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 under both Republican and Democrat control. In fact, the last annual federal budget approved by the U.S. Senate was on April 29, 2009. The federal government has operated by enacting these series of continuing resolutions – short-term measures that keep the government running and spending money at previously adopted rates.

The Indiana Chamber believes this is a gross dereliction of duty, as the federal government has spent trillions since the last adopted budget, further adding to the debt.

What the Indiana Chamber would like to see is Congress move from a yearly (or semi-yearly) mad dash to a biennial budget system. This would take much of the politics out of the budget process and would encourage efficiency in the management, stability and predictability of federal funding, especially for Indiana. A biennial budget would also enhance congressional oversight of government operations and encourage better policy planning. Biennial budgets should occur during non-election years to promote bipartisanship (or at least lessen partisan tensions) in the budgetary process. We can dream!

Early Learning Coalitions Summit Set for June 5

The second annual Indiana Summit for Economic Development via Early Learning Coalitions will take place on June 5 at the Monroe County Convention Center in Bloomington. The Indiana Summit will explore the business case for investing in early childhood and learn how to develop, grow and sustain early learning coalitions in communities across the state of Indiana.

Keynote and featured speakers include:

  • Dr. Tim Bartik, economist at W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, who will share the important link between a strong and skilled workforce and investing in early childhood.
  • Hoosier native Erin Ramsey, senior director of Mind in the Making at the Bezos Foundation. She will talk about the brain development that occurs in the early years and its connection to shaping the future workforce.
  • Jeffrey Connor-Naylor, senior associate at Ready Nation, will share highlights from its latest research brief “Social-Emotional Skills in Early Childhood Support Workforce Success.”

Afternoon workshops will focus on helping local communities build strong coalitions with a focus on early childhood. There will also be ample time for networking and connecting with community leaders across the state.

Business, community and education leaders are coming together for the event. Registration is required. The daylong program is just $25.

‘History on Wheels’ Hitting the Road to Showcase Hoosier Auto History

I was granted a sneak peek Thursday of the Indiana Historical Society’s new traveling exhibit, History on Wheels. Housed inside a 53-foot double expandable semi-trailer, the one-of-a-kind exhibit celebrates Indiana’s incredible contributions to the automobile industry within 1,000 square feet of indoor museum space.

Ever since Elwood Haynes famously took his first “horseless carriage” out for a stroll on Pumpkinvine Pike in Kokomo in 1894, Indiana has been putting its stamp on automotive lore, climbing back to No. 2 in the nation (behind only Michigan) in automotive production.

The exhibit touches on the history of more than 100 Indiana automakers and manufacturers, such as Duesenberg, Gibson and Studebaker. It also delves into the lives of Hoosier innovators and inventors, such as Carl Fisher, Haynes and Ralph Teetor.

“For decades, the Indiana Historical Society has dedicated resources to giving people a way to experience and enjoy Indiana history in their own communities,” says John A. Herbst, IHS president and CEO. “History on Wheels allows us to expand on this critical part of our mission. As the only traveling exhibit of its kind in the state, it is a new way to experience history.”

IHS History on Wheels program manager Curt Barsic guided me around the colorful display. He relays that IHS hopes the exhibit will draw at least 100,000 annual visitors as it makes its way across the state and strives to be featured in 20 festivals per year. (The exhibit will be on the road for at least five years).

“We conducted focus groups and the overwhelming majority of people wanted to see an exhibit on the automotive history in the state,” he explains. “We had a list of 13 topics and in every focus group it was at or near the top.”

He points out one display that contrasts scenes from the 1934 Indianapolis 500 with its 100th running in 2016.

“It’s so cool,” Barsic notes. “You can see how close the crowd is (in 1934), and how close to pit row they are.”

The public will get its first chance to see History on Wheels Saturday, May 6, when IHS launches the traveling exhibit with free admission and extended hours in honor of the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. History on Wheels will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center, located in downtown Indianapolis, across the street from the Mini post-race party. The exhibit will remain at the History Center and be included with admission to the Indiana Experience May 7-13.

History on Wheels is supported by Lilly Endowment Inc. and fueled by CountryMark. For reservation fees and booking information, contact Mark McNees, IHS History on Wheels coordinator, at (317) 234-2029 or mmcnees@indianahistory.org. More event locations and details are available on IHS’s website at www.indianahistory.org/HistoryonWheels.

2017 History on Wheels schedule (new dates are still being added):

  • May 6 – 13 – Indiana Historical Society, Downtown Indianapolis
  • June 2 – 3 – CruZionsville, Downtown Zionsville
  • June 28 – July 1 – Covington 4th of July Festival, Covington City Park, Covington
  • July 7 – 9 – Three Rivers Festival, Headwaters Park, Fort Wayne
  • July 10 – 15 – Howard County 4-H Fair, Greentown Fairgrounds, Greentown
  • July 28 – 29 – Frankfort Hot Dog Festival, Downtown Courthouse Square, Frankfort
  • Aug. 19 – 20 – Yellowstone Trail Fest, Starke County Fairgrounds, Hamlet
  • Sept. 15 – 16 – Back to the Fifties Festival, Boone County Fairgrounds, Lebanon
  • Sept. 20 – City of Whiting Cruise Night, Downtown Whiting
  • Sept. 29 – Oct. 1 – Newport Antique Auto Hill Climb, Newport

Chamber Unveils Rankings for Top 100 Best Places to Work in Indiana

These companies made people the priority in their workplaces with policies and practices geared toward employee satisfaction and success. And tonight, they were honored as the top 100 companies on the 2017 Best Places to Work in Indiana list.

Winners were selected in four categories. Taking top honors:

  • Small companies’ category (between 15 and 74 U.S. employees): Luther Consulting, LLC, a Carmel-based public health software company
  • Medium companies’ category (between 75 and 249 U.S. employees): Gregory & Appel Insurance, property and casualty risk management and employee benefit firm in Indianapolis
  • Large companies’ category (between 250 and 999 U.S. employees): Indianapolis-based Blue 449, an open source media company
  • Major companies’ category (1,000 or more U.S. employees): technology giant Microsoft Corporation, which has a local office in Indianapolis

Both Luther Consulting and Microsoft are repeats; this marks a record sixth time for Microsoft to take top honors. Meanwhile, Gregory & Appel Insurance and Blue 449 make their first-place debut.

“These four companies excel in respecting their employees, providing them with the tools to be successful and offering careers – not just jobs,” states Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar.

“Every company on this list understands the positive business impact of making employees feel valued. We are pleased to recognize them for such model work environments.”

Winners were sorted into four categories: small, medium, large and major companies. Out-of-state parent companies were eligible to participate if at least 15 full-time employees are in Indiana.

The 2017 Best Place to Work in Indiana companies range in Hoosier employee count from 15 (SMARI, a consulting firm in Indianapolis) to more than 1,700 (Horseshoe Casino in Hammond).

At the dinner, presented in partnership with Hylant, representatives from all designated companies received Best Places to Work awards of excellence.

Organizations on this year’s list that have displayed sustained excellence during the program’s 12-year history received additional recognition with Best Places to Work in Indiana Hall of Fame and Pinnacle designations.

Hall of Fame companies are those that have been named a Best Place to Work in Indiana at least two-thirds of the time in the program’s history; a total of 15 organizations on the 2017 list meet that criteria. Two companies – Edward Jones and Katz, Sapper & Miller – have made the Best Places to Work list all 12 years of the program.

The Pinnacle designation is reserved for those that have finished first in their category three or more times in a five-year period. The four Pinnacle companies are Edward Jones (tops in the large employer category from 2006-2008); Hollingsworth & Zivitz, P.C. (first in the small employer category from 2011-2014); Microsoft (tops in the major employer category in 2013-2014, 2016-2017 and in the large employer category in 2011-2012); and Sikich LLP (first in the large employer category from 2013-15).

More information about the Best Places to Work companies is available via a special section of the May/June issue of the Indiana Chamber’s BizVoice® magazine, a statewide publication released tonight and accessible online at www.bizvoicemagazine.com.

Other program partners are Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick, the Best Companies Group, Indiana State Council of SHRM and the Wellness Council of Indiana.

In addition to Hylant, Best Places to Work in Indiana is sponsored by: Moser Consulting; Eaton Corporation; Hancock Regional Hospital; Human Capital Concepts; OurHealth; and Smithville.

The Best Places organizations were determined through employer reports and comprehensive employee surveys. The Best Companies Group, which handled the selection process, oversees similar programs in 29 other states.

All companies that participated in the 2017 Best Places to Work program receive an in-depth evaluation identifying strengths and weaknesses according to their employees. In turn, this report can be used in developing or enhancing employee retention and recruitment programs.

For more information on the Indiana Chamber’s Best Places to Work program, go to www.bestplacestoworkIN.com.

The full list of the 2017 Best Places to Work in Indiana companies by ranking:
*Hall of Fame companies

**Pinnacle companies

Small Companies (15-74 U.S. employees)
Company / Primary Indiana Location
1. Luther Consulting, LLC / Carmel
2. SMARI / Indianapolis
3. E-gineering / Indianapolis
4. JA Benefits, LLC / Bedford
5. DK Pierce / Zionsville
6. American Income Life Indiana / Indianapolis
7. Indiana CPA Society / Indianapolis
8. eimagine / Indianapolis
9. Hanapin Marketing / Bloomington
10. Cripe / Indianapolis
11. mAccounting, LLC / Indianapolis
12. Jackson Systems / Indianapolis
13. Leaf Software Solutions / Carmel
14. Lakeside Wealth Management / Chesterton
15. University High School of Indiana / Carmel
16. CleanSlate Technology Group / Carmel
17. Visit Indy / Indianapolis
18. Bloomerang / Indianapolis
19. Weddle Bros. Construction Co., Inc. / Bloomington
20. Williams Creek / Indianapolis
21. The Skillman Corporation / Indianapolis
22. Magnum Logistics, Inc. / Plainfield
23. Pondurance / Indianapolis
24. Lessonly / Indianapolis
25. Apex Benefits / Indianapolis
26. Schmidt Associates* / Indianapolis
27. Indesign, LLC* / Indianapolis
28. Delivra, Inc. / Indianapolis
29. Community First Bank of Indiana / Kokomo
30. BLASTmedia / Fishers
31. Inovateus Solar LLC / South Bend
32. LHD Benefit Advisors / Indianapolis
33. Grote Automotive Inc. / Fort Wayne
34. CENTURY 21 Scheetz / Multiple locations
35. Sharpen / Indianapolis
36. netlogx LLC / Indianapolis
37. Oak Street Funding LLC / Indianapolis
38. Emarsys North America / Indianapolis
39. FirstPerson / Indianapolis
40. T&W Corporation / Indianapolis
41. General Insurance Services / Michigan City
42. VOSS Automotive / Fort Wayne
43. Conner Insurance / Indianapolis
44. Peepers by PeeperSpecs / Michigan City
45. OfficeWorks / Fishers
46. Ambassador Enterprises / Fort Wayne
47. Network Solutions, Inc. / Granger
48. Goelzer Investment Management, Inc. / Indianapolis
49. Design Collaborative / Fort Wayne

Medium Companies (75-249 U.S. employees) (21)
1. Gregory & Appel Insurance / Indianapolis
2. Purdue Federal Credit Union / West Lafayette
3. National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) / Indianapolis
4. Software Engineering Professionals (SEP)* / Carmel
5. IDSolutions / Noblesville
6. American College of Education / Indianapolis
7. First Internet Bank / Fishers
8. Elements Financial Federal Credit Union / Indianapolis
9. Merchants Bank of Indiana and PR Mortgage & Investments / Carmel
10. J.C. Hart Company, Inc. / Carmel
11. Blue Horseshoe / Carmel
12. Allegient, LLC / Indianapolis
13. SkillStorm / Indianapolis
14. HWC Engineering, Inc. / Indianapolis
15. Sheridan Community Schools / Sheridan
16. Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice of the Wabash Valley / Terre Haute
17. WestPoint Financial Group* / Indianapolis
18. Indiana Oxygen Company / Indianapolis
19. Moser Consulting, Incorporated / Indianapolis
20. PAN Performance Assessment Network / Carmel
21. Peoples Bank SB / Munster

Large Companies (250-999 U.S. employees) (19)
1. Blue 449 / Indianapolis
2. FORUM Credit Union / Fishers
3. Kemper CPA Group LLP / Multiple locations
4. Katz, Sapper & Miller, LLP* / Indianapolis
5. Impact Networking / Indianapolis
6. Sikich LLP* ** / Indianapolis
7. SmartIT / Indianapolis
8. Duke Realty Corporation* / Indianapolis
9. Blue & Co., LLC* / Carmel
10. Hylant / Multiple locations
11. Hosparus Health / New Albany
12. Monarch Beverage / Indianapolis
13. Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company* / Fort Wayne
14. Ontario Systems / Muncie
15. IPMG / West Lafayette
16. Traylor Bros., Inc. / Evansville
17. Centier Bank / Merrillville
18. AssuredPartners NL / New Albany
19. American Structurepoint, Inc. / Indianapolis

Major Companies (1,000+ U.S. employees) (11)
1. Microsoft Corporation* ** / Indianapolis
2. Edward Jones* ** / Statewide
3. Colliers International / Indianapolis
4. Horseshoe Casino / Hammond
5. Salesforce* / Indianapolis
6. Aerotek / Multiple locations
7. Blackboard, Inc. / Indianapolis
8. RCI* / Carmel
9. Turner Construction Company / Indianapolis
10. Capital Group* / Carmel
11. Cushman & Wakefield* / Indianapolis

Chamber Exec Shelley Huffman Graduates from National Education Fellowship

Shelley Huffman, the Indiana Chamber’s director of college and career readiness, has been named a graduate of the Fellowship for Education Attainment, an initiative of the Alexandria, Va.-based Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE).

Huffman is one of only 20 chamber of commerce professionals nationwide to receive this honor in 2017.

The Fellowship for Education Attainment is an immersive executive development program that provides chamber of commerce professionals with education and tools to improve the birth-to-career education pipeline in the communities they serve.

“Getting children off on the right educational footing can play a defining role in their education career, so having Hoosier students receive the proper education from beginning to end is vital,” explains Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar. “Having a meaningful career path improves quality of life for employees and a more qualified talent pool is also a win for employers. “

Throughout the year-long fellowship program, participants are required to develop a regional action plan that focuses on addressing specific education attainment or workforce development issues in their communities.

Titled “Developing Indiana Talent for a 21st Century Workforce”, Huffman’s plan centers on helping Indiana K-12 school representatives rethink the way they organize and deliver school counseling services. The end goal is building sustainable programs to improve education attainment that involve the local community, employers, postsecondary institutions, community foundations, as well as youth and human service organizations.

Huffman’s work was guided by Indiana Vision 2025, the Indiana Chamber’s long-range economic development action plan and its Outstanding Talent driver and goal to increase to 60% the proportion of Indiana residents with high quality postsecondary credentials.

“The shared learning with ACCE Fellows was energizing and provided significant opportunities to bring best practices, innovative programming and resources to my work in Indiana,” Huffman says.

Adds ACCE President Mick Fleming, “We are all thrilled with the level of expertise and depth of engagement among our fellows. These chamber executives have set the bar high for their peers and helped us build a powerful body of knowledge.”

ACCE’s Fellowship for Education Attainment is designed to advance a chamber of commerce’s already-defined education attainment goals and ultimately help the business associations nationwide build replicable programs and processes.

In addition to Indianapolis, graduating fellows represent communities including Dallas; Huntsville, Alabama; Las Vegas; Nashville, Tennessee; Philadelphia; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Springfield, Ohio.

For more information about ACCE’s Education Attainment Division, visit www.ACCE.org/EAD.