Chamber’s Final Policy Letter: Invest in Tech Sector, Expand Quality of Place Efforts

kbbtb4In our fourth and final letter to the major party gubernatorial candidates, the Indiana Chamber calls for additional investment in innovation and entrepreneurs, and addressing the economic divide within the state.

The organization’s six-week Beyond the Bicentennial campaign (going beyond the state’s first 200 years) has focused on the “most potentially impactful public policies to ensure Indiana doesn’t become complacent and continues to push for progress in needed areas.” The blueprint for the campaign comes from the Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 plan, introduced in 2012, and the four economic drivers within the plan. Dynamic and Creative Culture is that fourth driver.

Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar says continuing efforts to enhance Indiana’s business climate will revolve around “quality of place” aspects. That includes changing the inaccurate global perception that Indiana is not a welcoming place by expanding civil rights protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

97867199“We would hope this basic guarantee for Hoosier citizens would be followed by a moratorium on social issues, so we can, collectively, focus on the important economic and job-related challenges that are facing our state,” Brinegar asserts.

Those challenges include enhancing the environment for entrepreneurial and start-up businesses, as well as supporting rural areas of the state that are struggling to keep up with attracting jobs and employees. An increased focus on the technology sector and more opportunities for venture capital funding are also needed.

“Indiana is highly regarded for our business climate, and that is something that the state, Indiana Chamber and others have worked tirelessly for,” Brinegar continues. “But we cannot miss out on the great opportunity to make technology innovation an integral part of the state’s identity, and we must do more to lift up the rural areas, supporting them with the tools and assistance to be able to be competitive.”

The Indiana Technology & Innovation Council, formed this summer and managed by the Indiana Chamber, will lend a unified voice to that area and push for policies at the Statehouse. Those policies, notes Brinegar, are to be announced at a mid-December event.

The previous letters of the Beyond the Bicentennial campaign focus on the Indiana Vision 2025 drivers. Each one of those areas also impacts the state’s ability to possess a Dynamic and Creative Culture.

The first letter, on Outstanding Talent, highlighted the need for expansion of the pre-kindergarten pilot program and additional resources for job training. The second letter, on Attractive Business Climate, called for an increase in the cigarette tax and increasing the legal smoking age to 21; additionally, continued emphasis on removing the burdensome business personal property tax was noted. The third letter, on Superior Infrastructure, called for common sense measures to provide sustainable long-term road funding, diversify Indiana’s energy mix and put a statewide water resources plan into place.

All four installments are online at

Chamber Endorses Jennifer McCormick for Superintendent of Public Instruction

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce is backing Dr. Jennifer McCormick in the race for state superintendent of public instruction over incumbent Glenda Ritz. The organization has very rarely stepped into statewide races and this marks the first time ever to endorse a challenger in one. McCormick is the current Yorktown Community Schools superintendent.

“Our volunteer leadership voted to take this unusual step because we can’t have four more years of divisiveness and dysfunction from the Department of Education. It’s time to hit the reset button,” says Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar.

“We need a state superintendent who understands the importance of having a productive working relationship with the stakeholders engaged in the state’s education policy. Glenda Ritz has proven she’s incapable of doing that and has over politicized the system.”

In contrast, the Indiana Chamber notes McCormick’s “positive relationships with both educators and the business community. She will be the constructive, get-things-done type of a superintendent that we need in today’s climate.”

States Dr. McCormick: “I am honored to receive this support from the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. Over the last two decades, I have served at every level in our state’s K-12 public education system, as a classroom teacher, principal and superintendent. I am running for this office because Indiana deserves the best Department of Education in the nation.

“I look forward to working with our state’s dynamic business community and all stakeholders as we strive to put students first and prepare them for careers in our great state.”

The Indiana Chamber has long been involved in education policy because businesses need good, qualified talent to thrive.

“We are well aware of the current workforce challenges that must be addressed by business leaders and educators working together,” Brinegar explains. “We need a superintendent who will roll up her sleeves, and work in tandem with other state agencies and organizations to make the needed progress. That is exactly what we expect Jennifer McCormick to do.”

When it comes to specific policies under Ritz that are of concern, Brinegar is quick to cite several.

“Maintaining the education policies that have improved student outcomes in recent years is at risk,” he states. “Whether that’s our assessments, school and teacher accountability or parental choice of which school is best for their children. Ritz is in favor of none of that.”

Her clear opposition to any type of accountability may be the most troubling for the Indiana Chamber.

“The accountability aspect is so vital because this is what tells parents, students and the community at-large how well their schools and teachers are performing, so that parents can make informed decisions about what school their child attends,” Brinegar stresses.

“Jennifer McCormick believes in the importance of accountability and she demonstrates it every day as a successful superintendent who leads a team in her schools and focuses on what’s best for student learning.”

One of the Indiana Chamber’s top objectives for the 2017 legislative session will be expansion of state-supported pre-K to more students from low-income families.

“Jennifer McCormick realizes that the at-risk group needs to be the focus and she will make effective use of the state’s scarce resources,” Brinegar offers. “We can count on her to administer this important program properly. We can’t risk having what happened to ISTEP happen with pre-K.”

Immigration Discussion Continues; Recommendations on the Horizon

The fifth meeting of the Senate Select Committee on Immigration Issues was recently held. Topics discussed included Indiana demographics, provided by a representative of the Partnership for a New American Economy. The chairman of the 6th congressional district Latino caucus also provided the committee with information about the struggles of Hoosier Latinos in Union City. He further testified to the use of and success of a voluntary emergency ID program for undocumented immigrants in his community. He suggested the idea could possibly be mirrored by the state.

Senator Chip Perfect (R-Lawrenceburg) discussed the quandary for employers that would be presented with an ID/driver’s license that could be used for purposes of the I-9 for hiring but on that document specifically identifies that the person is undocumented. Social work students from Valparaiso University testified to the need to allow for undocumented immigrants to have access to higher education. Senator Mike Delph (R-Carmel) asked committee members to provide thoughts for recommendations to the General Assembly before the next and final meeting on November 10. At that time, we should get a feel for what Sen. Delph will be wanting to do in regards to potential upcoming legislation.

It’s All About the Trust

cReader’s Digest has a long history as one of the trusted, or at least popular, publications. While its overall impact may have declined, it has interesting findings in its recent Trusted Brand survey.

Are some of your favorites on the list?

Seventy-eight percent of this year’s survey participants stated they would choose a brand that’s been identified as more trustworthy than a different brand with equal quality and price. More than 5,000 Americans across the country participated in the online survey.

“Trust is an integral part of the Reader’s Digest DNA and we wanted to continue to capture Americans’ changing attitudes on brand trust, recognizing the most trusted brands in a variety of categories that matter to consumers,” said Kirsten Marchioli, VP and group publisher for Reader’s Digest.

In addition, the study reported 67% of U.S. adults surveyed pay more attention to trusted brands, and another 67% say they pay more money to support trusted brands.

Some of the Reader’s Digest Most Trusted Brands for 2016 are:

  • Airline: Southwest
  • Automobile (passenger cars excluding trucks): Toyota
  • Automobile (SUV/crossover): Ford
  • Bottled water: Dasani
  • Coffee: Folgers
  • Cold cereal: Kellogg’s
  • Computer (desktop/laptop): Dell
  • Credit card: Visa
  • Cruise line: Carnival Corporation
  • Fast food/casual dining: McDonald’s
  • Headache/pain reliever: Advil
  • Juice: Tropicana
  • Laundry detergent: Tide
  • Mass merchandiser retail store: Walmart
  • Mobile phones: Apple
  • National hotel chains/resorts: Marriott
  • National pharmacy/drug store: CVS Pharmacy
  • Nutrition bars: CLIF
  • Soup: Campbell Soup
  • Yogurt: Yoplait

Evaluating the Workplace Seating Chart

10061396After reading the following, people may start thinking about what category they fit in. And managers might consider some potential changes. The conclusions come from Harvard Business School researchers.

Placing the right mix of workers in close proximity to each other can generate up to a 15% increase in organizational performance, according to a study from Cornerstone OnDemand.

The researchers determined that there are three types of employees: productive, generalist and quality. Productive workers get work done quickly, but they don’t necessarily get it done well. Quality workers produce stellar work, but they’re not the most productive people in the office. And generalist employees are average in terms of both productivity and quality.

The study’s authors found that the impact on productivity and effectiveness is most pronounced when employees who are strong in one area but weak in another sit near each other. Specifically, seating “productive” and “quality” workers together and seating “generalists” separately in their own group shows a 13% gain in productivity and a 17% gain in effectiveness. “In short, symbiotic relationships are created from pairing those with opposite strengths,” the study’s authors wrote.

While the impact of seating employees close to each other happens almost instantly, the effects aren’t long lasting if the two groups are eventually separated. Once separated, the positive impact the employees had on each other usually goes away within two months, according to the study.

Print is Not Dead in the Magazine Game

bizvoice coverWe don’t share this story because we’ve been in the magazine business for the last 18 years with Indiana’s leading statewide business publication (BizVoice). But it’s nice to see facts like these once again, courtesy of Publishing Executive, reaffirming that print is far from dead.

Subscribers to printed consumer magazines are wealthy, well-educated empty nesters living in single-family homes, a recent U.S. Postal Service study suggests.

Households with incomes above $100,000 receive three times as many periodicals as households earning less than $35,000, says the USPS’s recently released annual Household Diary Study.

Households that receive the most mailed periodicals also tend to have more than one adult, no children, be headed by someone with a postgraduate degree and reside in a single-family house.

Affluent young adults, perhaps the audience most coveted by advertisers, also read printed magazines. Those under 34 with household incomes over $100,000 receive 0.8 periodicals per week, more than the average household and several times more than their less affluent young-adult counterparts.

Recruiting the Next Generation of Hoosier Educators

96631972The following is a guest blog by Indiana House Speaker Rep. Brian C. Bosma (R-Indianapolis).

The single most important factor in student success is an outstanding teacher in the classroom. That’s why our schools need a strong hiring pool of high-quality teachers to ensure Hoosier students have the best chance of success.

To help attract and retain top talent, I authored a new law this year establishing the Next Generation Hoosier Educators Scholarship. This program, which received bipartisan support, is designed to incentivize our best and brightest high school graduates to pursue degrees in teaching and work in Indiana’s classrooms.

Beginning Nov. 1, both incoming and current college students studying education can apply for the scholarship, which awards $7,500 per year toward college costs to those who commit to teaching in Indiana’s public or private schools for five years after graduating.

The scholarship is available to 200 students statewide each year who either graduate in the top 20 percent of their class or earn a score in the top 20th percentile on the SAT or ACT. While in college, students must maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA and complete at least 30 credit hours per year to continue receiving the grant. Graduates must obtain their teaching license and teach in Indiana for five consecutive years. The commission can make special exceptions for life’s unexpected circumstances on a case-by-case basis.

Students interested in applying must be nominated by a teacher and submit their nomination form to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. Students are encouraged to complete the nomination form before the application period opens.

I applaud the work of the Indiana Commission for Higher Education and Commissioner Teresa Lubbers in implementing this new program and launching a promotional campaign to spread the word about this great opportunity. Students can visit for information and to submit an application before the Dec. 31 deadline. The commission is also expected to launch TV, radio and digital advertisements this month.

Indiana’s new scholarship program represents a bipartisan effort with input and broad-based support from lawmakers, teachers and education organizations, including the Indiana Department of Education, Indiana Chamber of Commerce, a coalition of Indiana colleges and universities, the Indiana State Teachers Association, the Indiana Catholic Conference and Stand for Children.

This new program will help our schools attract and retain highly qualified teachers – especially for subjects like STEM and special education. Hoosier students hold the keys to Indiana’s future, and we will continue to work together to strengthen our commitment to students, teachers and schools.

Interim Committee Votes Down License Compact, Approves Debt Forgiveness Program

The second meeting of the Interim Study Committee on Public Health was held recently. Committee members first heard testimony regarding a multi-state nurse licensure compact, which would allow nurses to practice in different states without obtaining another license. Kentucky is the only border state that is a member of the compact. If legislation is passed in Indiana to participate in the compact, the adoption of any rules by the commission for the compact would be binding on Indiana. The attorney general’s office addressed legal concerns for the compact. The Public Health Committee voted to not recommend the adoption of a multi-state nurse license compact by a 14-0 vote.

The committee also entertained discussion about forgiveness of student loans for dentists and dental hygienists accepting Medicaid reimbursement. The IU School of Dentistry provided information on the debt burden of both resident and non-resident IU dental grads. The combined average debt is a little more than $189,000 upon graduation. In addition, only 16 of Indiana’s 92 counties had an adequate supply of dentists to service Indiana Medicaid patients – suggesting that significant gaps may exist in Indiana’s oral health care safety net for both urban and rural communities. A loan forgiveness program was proposed that would support six to eight dentists and two to three dental hygienists in high need Medicaid areas by forgiving some of the debt if a four-year commitment was made. The program was approved by the committee unanimously.

Hancock, Delaware Counties Honored by Wellness Council as Healthy Communities


The Wellness Council of Indiana (WCI) recently honored two Indiana communities as Indiana Healthy Community Initiative designees. The designations are the first for the WCI program, which began earlier this year.

Hancock County and Muncie-Delaware County were awarded the title at the 2016 Indiana Health and Wellness Summit September 21-22 in downtown Indianapolis. The annual summit is the largest gathering of wellness professionals in Indiana, and was presented in partnership with the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, the Wellness Council of Indiana, the Indiana State Department of Health, INShape Indiana and the American Diabetes Association.

To be considered an Indiana Healthy Community, communities must apply to the WCI and meet eight key components, including working with various community leaders, getting citizens involved, analyzing political atmospheres and ensuring environments are best for making healthy choices. Part of the requirements include having a certain number of businesses certified as AchieveWELL companies, a WCI designation for individual organizations (see AchieveWELL information and list below).

Additionally, community leaders identify short-term and long-term strategies to ensure a healthy community for all citizens. WCI representatives assist communities in providing best practices for achieving community goals.

“The premise of the Indiana Healthy Community Initiative is to drive economic growth and development for communities, so that when companies want to relocate or start in Indiana, they’re looking at communities where health is a priority,” WCI Executive Director Chuck Gillespie says.

“And in these areas – like in Delaware and Hancock counties – what companies will find are healthier employees and families, lower insurance costs and a productive workforce.”

Six other counties – Putnam, Howard, Dubois, Kosciusko, Monroe and Hendricks – are all in various stages of involvement with the Indiana Healthy Community Initiative.

Locations interested in becoming Indiana Healthy Communities can visit the WCI web site (Healthy Communities tab) for more information and to apply.

The Wellness Council of Indiana is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

Chamber Testimony in Support of Pre-K Expansion Given to Interim Committee


The Indiana Chamber submitted testimony Wednesday to the Interim Study Committee on Fiscal Policy regarding the state-supported expansion of pre-K for children from low-income families. Below is that testimony from Caryl Auslander, the Indiana Chamber’s vice president of education and workforce development:

“I am honored to serve for the Indiana Chamber, but the most important role I play right now is that of being a Mom to two school-aged kids. My youngest started pre-K this fall and she is off to an amazing start to her educational career. But there are thousands of four-year-old Hoosier children from low-income families that are not as fortunate. They risk starting school with a bigger disadvantage of being behind and not being ready to learn.

First and foremost – we would like to thank the Indiana General Assembly. Two years ago, Indiana became the 42nd state to offer direct state aid for preschool tuition to at-risk children. As you know, this pilot program (On My Way Pre-K) provided $10 million for vouchers provided to four year old children in five counties (Allen, Lake, Marion, Jackson and Vanderburgh).

Fast forward two short years later, we are thrilled that both gubernatorial candidates, both superintendent of public instruction candidates and legislative leaders of all four caucuses have committed to making pre-K a priority this upcoming legislative session. But we know that the breakdown comes from the details on the plan and how exactly to pay for it. The Indiana Chamber has been working hard in the interim as a part of the AllIN4PreK coalition focusing on pursuing several key policy points:

  • We are promoting expanding the pilot program to include more 4 year olds from low-income families across the state
  • And if we are going to spend state dollars – we need to do it wisely. These pre-K programs must be high-quality – levels 3 or 4 on the Paths to Quality rating system
  • And these programs need to be accessible to working parents – nearby where they live or work or on public transportation lines. Therefore we suggest supporting a mixed-delivery system – quality providers in centers, public schools, private schools, ministries and homes
  • We want to ensure that we continue data reporting requirements that are now in place within the pilot program to make sure our investments are providing positive results
  • And finally, we want to work with the Legislature to find an appropriate fiscal number to fund this program within the constraints of the budget and reflective of revenue forecasts. We recognize that this is a big investment but it is a worthwhile one – according to the Indiana Department of Education, our state spends nearly $32 million a year on kindergarten remediation and expanding the pilot program could significantly mitigate those costs

Kindergarten is now more like first grade due to the increased rigor of college and career-ready standards. It is imperative that children, specifically those without means, have access to quality early-childhood education to have them ready for kindergarten by the time they walk in the door. It is our hope that attending a quality pre-K program will mitigate the high costs of remediation and have students more prepared to learn in their educational career.

The Indiana Chamber has made expanding pre-K a priority for the 2017 session as we want to grow our own talented workforce in Indiana – and an important pathway to that is starting early with four year olds from low-income families and a quality pre-K program.”