When I arrived at the Indiana Chamber oh so many years ago — 15 to be exact — education issues were at the forefront. Not a major surprise there. Various K-12 and higher education topics were part of our policy communications and more in-depth BizVoice magazine stories.
After writing such articles, I would anticipate the feedback. Often, then and today, that analysis — good or bad — would not come. (It's no secret that when reporters do hear from readers about their work, it's typically because someone is upset). But I could often count on a note or comment from at least one Indiana Chamber board member at the time in Vincennes University President Phillip Summers.
Summers, who passed away earlier this week, served 21 years (1980-2001) as the leader at VU. His is credited with many initiatives, from modernizing the home campus to growing programs in Jasper and at the Aviation Technology Center in Indianapolis. During our interactions, Summers was always thoughtful and insightful.
His handwritten notes often went beyond education issues. He was very complimentary of the work being done at the time to build BizVoice into a strong Chamber publication. If we missed the mark on what we were reporting, he would let us know that too — in a constructive manner.
After learning of Summers' death, I went back to the year 2000 and his participation in one of our roundtable discussions on the then-beginnings of the community college system and its relationship to regional campuses. I'll share that article here in thanking Phil Summers for his guidance and his outstanding work in the education world.
Best wishes to his family and the Vincennes University community.
The economic engines of the BRICS (that's South Africa added to Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries are slowing down a bit, according to analysts from Kiplinger. Of course, there is still growth expected in each of the countries.
(By the way, our latest BizVoice magazine features a story on international business but skips the BRIC contingent. South Africa is included in a much larger look at business prospects in all of Africa. Check it out online or in ourinteractive version).
Back to the BRICS, here's what Kiplinger has to say:
Brazil: 2% growth this year and not much more in 2014, partially due to reduced exports to China and continued union protests
Russia: About 2.5% this year, maybe 3.5% next. A $14 billion investment in infrastructure and small business lending will help, but hostile climate toward overseas capital is a long-term problem
India: 5%, a drop from the 8% annual growth for much of the past decade. High inflation (10%) and decreases in investment and savings rates are troublesome
China: 7% this year and slightly more in 2014. Wage increases will make it difficult to maintain massive government investment
South Africa: 2%, a drop from 2.5% in 2012, with a similar outlook for 2014
Doing Business with China is both a popular phrase these days and the title of an upcoming seminar.
The September 20 event at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown is part of an international business briefing series presented by Faegre Baker Daniels, Deloitte and Chase. Topics for the 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m. seminar include China mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, protecting intellectual property, banking and finance, tax planning and more.
The Chamber's September-October BizVoice magazine features two related stories. Instead of doing business in China, we focus on Africa and business prospects in the world's second largest continent. But we don't forget about China, looking at international visitors and how some Central Indiana attractions put out the welcome mat for the Chinese. You can also view the entire interactive version.
Of the 90-plus BizVoice magazines we have published since kicking off this journey in 1998, nearly all have included a roundtable discussion. Getting four people together in the same room for a 90-minute conversation always proves interesting.
While most roundtables take place in our Chamber offices, I recently traveled to South Bend to meet with four of this year's 33 Indiana Companies to Watch. (The magazine debuts at the awards event on August 22). No reason for each of them to make an approximately three-hour drive to Indy when we could hit the road and accomplish our objective.
This was a very interesting group — excellent representatives of what Indiana Companies to Watch is all about. Taking part were Sportula Products (Warsaw, producer of "hamburger flippers"; you will have to read the article), Royal Excursion (Mishawaka, transportation services), StrataShops (Elkhart, online furniture) and Integrative Flavors (Michigan City, food bases and flavorings). Sportula Products and StrataShops are the newcomers (founded in 2009 and 2008, respectively), Royal Excursion recently celebrated its 15th anniversary and the history of Integrative Flavors goes back to 1938 and supplying Army rations during World War II.
The companies reflect tremendous diversity in what they do, but there are strong similarities in how they have grown and dealt with various business challenges. How is that for a vague teaser? But trust me when I say it was a very good discussion, and I believe you will enjoy the article (online on the BizVoice site and in the interactive version on August 23).
Thanks to Dave, Shannon, Georgeann and John for their participation and insights. Check out the full story in a few weeks. And congratulations to all the Indiana Companies to Watch for 2013. The upcoming issue will help tell their stories.
As an old (that's as in former, not a comment on age) newspaper guy, I have a special place in my heart for print success stories. With the focus on social media, instantaneous news and the like, however, those successes are more difficult to come by in recent years.
Congratulations toThe Paper of Montgomery County, preparing to start its 10th year of publication. It is one of two daily newspapers in Crawfordsville, remarkable in a world today in which few two-paper cities remain — much less communities of about 12,000 people.
Tim Timmons is publisher and CEO. I had a fascinating discussion with Tim just a couple of years into his paper's adventure. At the time he was promoting his book, Coaching Success, that made strong comparisons between the athletic and business worlds. Read Tim's guest column about the book in a 2005 BizVoice edition.
Timmons noted in a recent email that not many people gave his crew a chance nine years ago when it was starting from scratch. But since then, "we have grown, bought a weekly, another daily and our Paper of Montgomery County is still rolling off the press each day."
Tim Brewer, our standout VP of Membership, is a Crawfordsville native. Thanks, Tim, for sharing this update on our Chamber member and Indiana success story. And kudos to the team from The Paper of Montgomery County.
I came to the Indiana Chamber slightly more than 15 years ago partially out of a desire to return to my writing roots. Newspaper reporting and other writing had evolved into managerial duties that primarily included editing and page layout (that's another story for another time).
The writing part started on Day 1 and has never really stopped. If variety is the spice of life, I can skip the spice aisle at the local grocery. Fifteen years of BizVoice magazine have delivered numerous story opportunities on subjects ranging from education and taxes to economic development and business success stories.
But we do a lot more at the Indiana Chamber, which involves many forms of writing. Some of the ongoing projects/initiatives that we're working on for our members and investors:
Video: Members discussing value of Chamber advocacy
Magazine: BizVoice award total recently climbed to 62
I love history and art – not to mention a “feel good” story. Maybe that’s why I enjoyed writing a BizVoice® article last summer about restoration of Elkhart’s historic Lerner Theatre, one of many projects revolving around the city’s new downtown arts and entertainment district.
Renovation of the structure, built in 1924 as a vaudeville palace, was completed in June. It wasn’t transformation of the theatre alone that I found captivating. It was the “story within a story” – The Lerner’s rebirth revitalized Elkhart (helping to boost revenue and morale), one of those hit hardest during the economic downturn.
And the story continues.
Design firm Moody•Nolan and associate architect Cripe Design recently earned a Palladio Award (specifically the Sympathetic Addition Award) for their addition and façade restoration of the theater.
Jim Kienle, director of Moody•Nolan’s Historic Preservation Studio, was quoted in a 2010 BizVoice® story focusing on environmentally friendly preservation efforts involving restoration.
Looking forward to seeing what’s in store “in the next act” for The Lerner and other renovation projects.
We're in the process of putting the finishing touches on the Best Places to Work issue ofBizVoice magazine. What can I tell you that won't spoil the secret of where the 100 companies on the list are ranked in each of the four categories?
The 100 companies are a record, topping the 70 honored in each of the last two years. There's room for plenty more. If you apply and meet the Best Companies Group criteria in your benefit offerings — and more importantly in the eyes of your employees — you can join the fun
There are four categories, based on number of U.S. employees, in 2013 (and in ensuing years)
But you knew that already. What will you be able to read in this BizVoice?
Info about all 100 winners
In-depth profiles of the top three in each category
Columns from five honorees on what it means to be a Best Place to Work and how their organization has benefitted from previous recognition
Employees from 10 more businesses on the list, telling what they enjoy most about coming to work every day and which company perk is their favorite
A roundtable discussion with four companies that did not make the list in 2012
How some try to deal with "turning off the technology" and creating an even stronger work-life balance
Summary results from both the employer questionnaire and employee survey
For the rest, you will have to wait for the May 2 awards dinner at the JW Marriott, when 1,200 friends join us for a true Indiana business celebration. BizVoice will be online late that evening with the print edition on the way to your mailbox.
And if you're wondering why your company wasn't included — it probably didn't apply. The applications for 2014 begin in August. Learn more.
For the May-June issue of BizVoice magazine, I had the opportunity to write some stories on energy issues of the day. When energy is the topic, the focus normally is on the source of the power (coal, gas, nuclear, etc.). One of my pieces dealt with the need for enhanced transmission to move the electricity to where it is needed.
A potential newcomer to the transmission mix in Indiana is the Grain Belt Express Clean Line. This 700-mile overhead, high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line will deliver wind energy from Kansas to Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and states farther east. Starting in western Kansas, the line will connect at a substation near Sullivan in western Indiana.
The Indiana Chamber is supporting Grain Belt, a $2 billion project that the company says would enable $7 billion in investment in new wind farms and provide power for 1.4 million homes. Approximately 200 businesses in Indiana are involved in the wind energy and transmission supply chains.
The HVDC is said to be most efficient over long distances. It requires a narrower right of way, resulting in lower cost transmission and prices. Clean Line will fund the transmission and sell the capacity to wind generators and load-serving entities.
As noted in the upcoming BizVoice article, transmission approval and construction is a long-term process. Grain Belt requested public utility status in Indiana in November 2012, allowing it to operate, manage and control transmission facilities. Commerical operations could begin as early as 2017.