Taking Employee Skills to the ‘Next Level’

Over the next decade, more than one million jobs must be filled in Indiana. Governor Holcomb recently announced enhancements to the Employer Training Grant component of the Next Level Jobs initiative, which prepares Hoosiers for positions in high-demand industry sectors.

What’s different? As of May 1, the reimbursement amount per new employee jumped from $2,500 to $5,000. The cap per employer also doubled – from $25,000 to $50,000.

Where does training take place? In-house or from an external provider.

What types of businesses are covered by the Employer Training Grant? Six industries are featured:

  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Building and Construction
  • Health Sciences
  • Information Technology and Business Services
  • Transportation and Logistics
  • Agriculture

Since its inception to 2017, nearly 600 applications have been received. More than $5.2 million in training funds have been obligated.

Ag Strength – By the Numbers

agThere’s no doubting the continued strength of Indiana’s agricultural industry (see the state fact sheet). We’ve told the stories often in BizVoice magazine – and will do so in the upcoming July-August issue (with a look at the prominence of ag businesses in Kosciusko County).

But according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, Indiana did not rank in the top three exporters by state of various products. There are some interesting states and dollar figures included (selected examples):

  • Soybeans: Illinois ($3.1 billion), Iowa ($2.7 billion) and Minnesota ($1.8 billion)
  • Corn: The same three states as soybeans, with Iowa leading the way at $1.1 billion
  • Wheat: Kansas ($1.5 billion), North Dakota and Montana
  • Pork: Iowa ($2 billion), North Carolina and Minnesota
  • Beef: Nebraska ($946 million), Texas and Kansas
  • Dairy; California ($1.2 billion), Wisconsin and New York
  • Poultry: Georgia, North Carolina and Arkansas
  • Fresh fruit: California ($2.5 billion), Florida ($3.2 billion) and Washington

Analyzing the Women-Owned Firms

Two businessmen and a businesswoman in a meeting

The fifth annual State of Women-Owned Businesses Report offers some mixed news for Indiana. Among the key findings:

  • Indiana is ranked 45th in the growth of new firms over the past 18 years (37.7% compared to a national average of 73.7%)
  • Employment in Indiana’s women-owned companies (estimated at 165,200 in 2015) increased by 25.4% over that same time period; that doubled the 12% national average
  • Likewise, the sales for Indiana firms (estimated at $26.2 million in 2015) experienced 93% growth since 1997, ahead of the 78.7% national sales average

In a special post-recession breakdown, Indiana comes in at No. 13 with 151% growth compared to the pre-recession (2002-2007) period.

Data is based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners.

July/August BizVoice Building a Buzz

Today, we’re unveiling our July/August edition of BizVoice magazine.

And the headline is actually a joking nod to our cover story about drones… assuming they make some sort of buzzing sound as they fly. If they don’t, well, let’s just ignore it and move on.

This issue covers a gamut of topics. Here are a few of the top stories (but you can view the full edition via our interactive online version):

A Day at the Farm: Planting Memories, Exploring a Legacy

Pictures will speak a thousand words in the upcoming issue of BizVoice® in my feature story on twins Ted and Tom McKinney. For me, images of my day at the family farm in Tipton where they grew up are etched in my mind. The experience was among my most enjoyable memories – professionally and personally.

I visited the farm to interview them for an article that will appear as part of our agriculture series in the July-August issue. Why the McKinneys? That’s the question Ted humbly asked as we met and shook hands.

First, the family history is deeply rooted in farming. There’s the strong Purdue University connection (they’re third generation graduates of the College of Agriculture). And like their parents and grandparents before, both Ted and Tom are dedicated to making a difference in their community.

Tom is a seventh-generation Indiana farmer (he guides operations at the Tipton farm and another family farm in neighboring Clinton County). Ted is director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture.

Touring the farm, which spans a few thousand acres, brought the McKinney legacy to life. Their passion for agriculture was contagious. Their childhood memories were rich. I could almost see the old yellow barn that served as a clubhouse of sorts in their youth before it was destroyed by straight line winds and made way for a modern shop.

I could picture them working alongside teens in the 1970s detasseling seed corn (the McKinneys were just 16 years old when they started managing their own crews) as they cultivated a strong work ethic and spirit of camaraderie. Tom operated the business for more than three decades.

“It was more than a money-making business. It was about transforming people’s lives,” declares his brother Ted.

Both have spent their lives trying to do just that.

Ted, among other causes, has been heavily involved in FFA and was instrumental in bringing both the organization’s national center and its convention to Indianapolis. Tom is president of the Indiana 4-H Foundation and has donated his time to a variety of other state and local initiatives. Each has brought his leadership to a variety of roles at Purdue.

Check out our memorable afternoon with one of Indiana’s first farming families in BizVoice when the July-August issue debuts on June 30.

Throwback Thursday: Purdue’s Long History of Agricultural Contributions

While digging into the fertile soil of our archive room, staff has discovered an Indiana Chamber report from August 1945 titled, “Aids Behind the Farm: A Directory of Functional Analysis of Governmental and Civic Organizations in the Field of Farming.” (Yes, the title is certainly a mouthful – potentially equaling a bushel of vegetables from a Hoosier farm.)

The booklet includes features on major farm-related organizations in Indiana – and the nation – like the Indiana Farm Bureau, The Grange, the National Farmers Union and the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives. One such prominent organization highlighted is Purdue University. The 1945 entry about the school reveals its history and mission, and why it’s such a benefit to the agricultural industry:

In 1869 the Indiana General Assembly took steps to establish an institution of learning and it received $340,000 from the Federal government which sum is held in trust by the state at interest. In 1869 the General Assembly accepted from John Purdue, a philanthropic businessman of Lafayette, and other public spirited citizens of Tippecanoe County, the sum of $200,000 and a tract of 100 acres of land. It also voted to name the institution ‘Purdue University.’

In 1879 the College of Agriculture was founded. Prior to 1900, few students attended the college and intensive efforts had to be made to acquaint farmers with the value of agricultural training. The first short course in agriculture was held in the winter of 1887-1888. These intensive winter short courses are still permitting hundreds of farmers to attain further knowledge of profitable agricultural practices.

Even then, Purdue’s county extensions played a major role in building the state’s agricultural climate. (The school has an extension in all 92 Indiana counties.):

An integral part of the work of the Extension Department is carried on through the efforts of more than 30,000 volunteer local and neighborhood leaders. County Extension Committees, organized in each county, are composed of local people who know the immediate needs of the county and who help to plan the extension program of their counties to meet the local problems. These people help to bring to Indiana farmers the information and facts which they need to meet their particular problems speedily and proficiently, and to advise returning veterans interested in farming.

In 4-H Club work, more than 3,600 young men and women serve as junior leaders and 2,200 parents and other adults serve as volunteer local leaders.

Food Inflation Could Reach 4% in U.S.

Personally, I eat more beef than Dr. Atkins trapped in a meat locker, so this is not encouraging news from Businessweek. But it’s news nonetheless, especially considering Indiana’s strong ties to the pork industry:

U.S. food costs will rise 3 percent to 4 percent this year, unchanged from February’s estimate, according to the Department of Agriculture. The increase would be the fastest since 2008.

Forecasts were raised for meat, eggs, vegetables and fats and oils. Prices for pork may climb as much as 7 percent, the biggest gain in any category, the USDA said today in a report. The department also raised its projection for food consumed at home by 0.5 percentage point, to a range of 3.5 to 4.5 percent.

“Recent food-commodity price increases, along with grocery-store price increases over the past few months,” have pushed up forecasts, Ephraim Leibtag, a USDA economist, said in a note accompanying the report.

Global food prices rose 25 percent last year and set a record last month, according to the United Nations. Riots prompted partly by rising costs have toppled governments in Egypt and Tunisia and contributed to unrest in other parts of northern Africa and the Middle East.

Expenses likely will continue to rise this year because of higher oil prices and smaller harvests, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization said March 9.

Good News (Not a Trick, There Really Is Some Out There)

It seems bad news abounds these days. Skyrocketing health care costs. Escalating deficits. Reality television is still here. But it’s not all bad. The Colts are 12-0. The economy is due to pick up (any day now…). And hey, there’s at least a 65% chance you’re not one of Tiger Woods’ mistresses.

Even better, the National Center for Policy Analysis has summarized a post from The American illustrating there’s still hope for the old U.S. of A. Check it out:

According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control:

  • Life expectancy for Americans reached an all-time high of nearly 78 years (77.9) in 2007 (most recent data available), the age-adjusted death rate dropped to a new all-time low, and life expectancy for black males reached a new record of 70 years.
  • Compared to the life expectancy in 1929 of only 57.1 years, the average American today can expect to live almost 21 years longer.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture:

  • Food expenditures by families and individuals (both at home and at restaurants) as a share of disposable personal income reached an all-time record low of 9.6 percent in 2008.
  • Spending on food as a share of income was twice that high in the 1950s (average of 19.3 percent), and almost three times as high in the early 1930s.

According to data from the Energy Information Administration:

  • The energy consumption required (measured in thousands of British thermal units) to produce a real dollar of output (Gross Domestic Product) fell to an all-time record low of 8.52 in 2008.
  • Compared to 1970 when it took 18 Btus to produce a real dollar of GDP, today’s economy is more than twice as energy-efficient.