Hats Off to Hoosier Life Sciences Companies

It was a race against time when I rushed into my boss’ office to share new statistics on life sciences released by BioCrossroads in partnership with the Indiana Business Research Center at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business. Why the hurry? We were seconds away from sending the March-April edition of BizVoice® magazine, which features life sciences, to the printer.

Alas, I was too late!

Sometimes you can’t beat the clock; it’s one of the perils of working in the magazine world. But that doesn’t diminish the value of our special BizVoice issue, now available online and on the way to your mailbox for our print subscribers. It tells compelling stories of the companies – and people – making discoveries and advancing the life sciences field.

A roundtable discussion focused on growing Indiana’s life sciences advantages includes insights from panelists on opportunities, challenges, collaboration, funding and more.

A few highlights from the BioCrossroads report (data is from 2012, the most recent year it is available):

  • Annual economic impact: $55-plus billion (up from $50 billion)
  • Workforce: 55,000 employees at nearly 1,900 companies
  • Annual wages: $89,056
  • Worldwide exports: Indiana ranks second (behind California), with more than $9.7 billion in life sciences products each year. That’s one-third of Indiana’s total exports.

Life sciences is changing – and saving – people’s lives. Thank you to all in our state who are helping make it happen. And keep the innovation coming!

Breaking Down the Pension Puzzle

I’ll summarize pensions in three short phrases: needed (in some form) to help prepare for retirement, difficult to understand and maybe even more difficult to write about.

I give it a shot in the upcoming BizVoice (available online on Feb. 28 and in the mail that same day) with the help of some really smart state and national experts. A couple of takeaways:

  • Indiana’s public pension system is in better shape than most, thanks to some long-term innovative and common sense practices
  • Traditional defined benefit plans in the private sector have largely given way to defined contribution programs (think 401{k})
  • There remain big (really big) concerns over whether Hoosiers and Americans are saving enough

Check out the numbers and the analysis in the March-April issue of BizVoice.

BizVoice Magazine Evolves in 2014

Since BizVoice® magazine debuted in 1998, there have been gentle tweaks in its appearance and we’ve certainly tried to enhance the publication for your information and enjoyment.

The biggest evolution, however, comes with this issue. A new logo, color scheme and overall layout are provided to more clearly identify BizVoice® as the flagship publication of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and deliver a bold, fresh look. You will find larger photographs, where appropriate, enticing introductory paragraphs to help you immediately learn more about the stories and a crisp layout that adds to your reading experience.

While the new look is important, publications are ultimately judged by their quality – and that often comes down to the content. We will continue to tell you the business stories you may not have seen anywhere else and bring together issue experts for intriguing roundtable discussions. In fact, in our recent survey, many of you cited the roundtables and business spotlights as your favorite features.

You also told us you like an array of topics in each edition. That variety will include a Business of Sports series (we’ve got two features this time around, fast-growing MainGate and the phenomenon of dynamic pricing). And BizVoice® continues its decade-long attention to workplace wellness with gamification taking center stage.

We will also provide ongoing success stories and challenges related to the Indiana Chamber-led Indiana Vision 2025 plan. There may be no more important subject as the organization and its statewide partners work to ensure a strong economic future.

AdvertisingBizVoice® reaches an influential statewide audience – helps us continue to provide the magazine at no cost. The publication has earned 63 national and state awards since 1999.

Thank you for your readership and support. Let us know what you think about the new BizVoice®.

Summers Was Always There With a Helpful Word

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.

 

Kiplinger: Heavy Load for the BRICS

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 our interactive 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

Interested in Business in China? Check Out this Event (and See the New BizVoice!)

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.

Learn more and register.

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.

Four Company Leaders Have Plenty to Share

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.

Look at Indiana Entrepreneurship Offers Mixed Signals

Cam Carter, our VP of small business and economic development, talks with Tom Schuman about the state of entrepreneurship in Indiana.

For more on recent developments on this topic, see these articles from the latest BizVoice magazine:

Still Getting the Job Done at The Paper

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 to The 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.

Writing is the Right Stuff for This Guy

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:

These are a few example of what keeps life interesting around here. Not to mention the scripts, presentations, press releases, fact sheets and other items that help achieve the Chamber mission.