VIDEO: A Look at the Promise Indiana Initiative

Clint Kugler of the Wabash County YMCA discusses the Promise Indiana Initiative. The initiative is helping boost college savings accounts and cultivating a fresh approach to education in the state.

Read a feature on the program in the latest edition of BizVoice.

A Day to Remember in Evansville

evilleArmed with my Starbuck’s latte, I stepped out into the cold. It was mid-January and I was headed to Evansville to conduct interviews for our education/workforce development issue of BizVoice® magazine.

I started the day around 7 a.m. and didn’t pull into my driveway until shortly after 7 p.m. that evening. You know what? It was worth it. In fact, it was unforgettable.

First up: Ivy Tech’s College Connection Coach initiative. The program places Ivy Tech employees in high schools to promote a culture of college attainment and to provide career counseling and advisement. Launched last fall, it stresses collaboration with guidance counselors, administrators and teachers.

Carrie Feltis, a College Connection Coach in the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation, spends two days a week at both Central and Harrison High Schools. While visiting Central, I watched her interact with a senior named Lindsey, with whom she’s worked closely. What a rapport! They shared laughs – lots of them – and proudly conveyed Lindsey’s many accomplishments. Among them: She’ll be the first member of her family to graduate from high school.

Next was a visit to Ivy Tech Community College-Southwest/Wabash Valley Region hosted by chancellor Jonathan Weinzapfel, a former state legislator and Evansville mayor. He passionately expressed the importance of the program and its potential impact in leading students down a path that includes postsecondary education.

Then it was time to dive into my next story. It was time to step into Signature School.

Signature, the state’s first charter school, is nationally recognized for its challenging curriculum and unique culture. Located in downtown Evansville, its close proximity to libraries, the YMCA, the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra and more provides the backdrop for learning beyond the doors of Signature’s two buildings.

Executive Director Jean Hitchcock beamed as we stepped into dynamic classrooms and met the people who create Signature’s success. The teachers are passionate. The students are spirited. It’s a tight-knit team that lives by the Signature Way.

If there’s one word to sum up my impressions of Signature, it’s this: brilliant.

Brilliant minds. Brilliant opportunities. That’s Signature.

Making a College ‘Promise'; Community Applications Available

bThe March-April issue of the Indiana Chamber’s BizVoice magazine will include a feature on the Wabash County Promise and the move to expand that to Promise Indiana.

What is the Promise? It’s creating college savings accounts for young people as early as kindergarten, but it’s also so much more — changing the culture and mindset about the importance of education to young people, families and communities.

Wabash County began its work in 2013. Three more counties (LaGrange, Noble and Whitley) came on board in 2014. Now, applications are open through March 9 for additional pilot counties for the upcoming school year.

Local leadership and support are the keys to success. Data and resources are provided to assist selected counties in a program that is gaining national attention and praise.

Remembers, to see the full story in BizVoice (online and in the mail on February 27).

People are Still Reading Magazines

10915174_884707758241099_6207917221940347920_nWhile the magazine world has been a volatile one in recent years, we’re proud to celebrate the current 100th issue of BizVoice. It’s focused on the simple question: What will it take for all of Indiana to achieve economically at the highest levels?

Check out BizVoice online. Let us know if you want a print version. And stay tuned for future issues as we continue to report on Indiana Vision 2025 (Outstanding Talent is the focus in March-April) as well as telling business stories from throughout the state.

As far as that volatility, check out these numbers compiled by USA Today:

  • 2014 :99 closures; 190 launches
  • 2013: 56 and 185
  • 2012: 81 and 226
  • 2011: 239 and 152
  • 2010: 176 and 214
  • Five-year totals:  564 closures and 1,054 launches

Why so many launches? Maybe because magazines remain a prime source for business advertising.

To determine the value of various forms of business-to-business advertising, the Association of Business Information and Media Companies conducted a recent survey. A key result: 69% prefer print magazines to learn about new products, equipment, services and suppliers.

Jim Wagner (jwagner@indianachamber.com) can help you grow your business through BizVoice. Contact Jim to learn more.

Promise Initiative is Indeed Promising

I went to Wabash (the city, not the college) recently. At one point (1985-88), I was in Wabash full time as sports editor of the local newspaper. Among the highlights during that time: a still celebrated 1986 state baseball championship.

But I digress. The reason for this visit to Wabash was for an upcoming BizVoice magazine story on the Wabash County Promise. And if young, energetic leaders have their way — and there is no reason to doubt them — the program to drive postsecondary educational attainment will one day be the Indiana Promise.

The Promise begins with opening 529 college savings accounts for young students (kindergarten through third grade). It continues with touch points that engage students and parents. It includes a Walk Into My Future day that brings thousands of young people to a college campus.

The initial success is laudable. The local leaders I spoke with know they must continue the work.  One, Parker Beauchamp, told me about speaking on campus (with the words really applying to the entire program): “It was about pumping those kids up, having them be part of something positive and letting them have a say in their future.”

The full story will be the in March-April BizVoice, which will include more articles on business-education connections and the possibilities that emerge through strong partnerships.

 

Numbers Game: Fixing a Mistake

Someone told me it was a bad idea to include 644 different numbers on just two pages of the current issue of BizVoice magazine. He was probably right, but we’ll leave that judgement to the readers. The purpose here is to fix a mistake with eight of those digits.

I was just fascinated by the various population information by county that helps tell the story of metro/rural economic challenges in our state. But in combining the charts from several sources, we messed up the 2025 and 2050 population projections for four counties — St. Joseph, Scott, Shelby and Spencer.

As an astute reader pointed out, calamity must be coming to South Bend and Mishawaka if St. Joseph County was going to decrease from more than 266,000 people a few years ago to 21,000-plus in 2025. The correct number is 272,788.

The error is on Page 27 of the print edition. Again, four counties and two columns. The numbers were there, but just out of order. Here are the correct numbers.

We hope you find the data and stories in the issue interesting and thought-provoking. Thanks to those who have already provided feedback, including the catch of the mistake.

It’s far from the first error in my journalism career, and I’m certain it won’t be the last. Hopefully there is plenty of good that comes in between that helps provide information that you find interesting and entertaining.

Thank you for reading BizVoice.

Regional Power: New Initiative to Help Leverage Core Cities for Regional Growth

IGov. Mike Pence recently allocated a total of $84 million in the 2016-17 budgets to help fund the Regional Cities Initiative. Led by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, the plan will take what the organization learned by consulting 11 economically successful cities of varying sizes in the U.S. to help Indiana’s regions develop their own approaches to increasing economic growth.

While the state is helping, each region will be allowed to autonomously craft its own approach — and define what areas each region encompasses, for that matter.

I had the privilege of writing about this innovative concept in our latest BizVoice magazine. State officials hope this will help Indiana’s cities and nearby rural areas thrive by enhancing many factors, most notably “quality of place.”

100th Edition of BizVoice is Now Available!

Our 100th, and most comprehensive edition of BizVoice is now available. You can view the entire magazine online, as we investigate Indiana’s economy — as well as the rural/urban divide and workforce challenges. We appreciate all the positive feedback we’ve already received from readers about this issue.

BizVoice: Social Media Changes Landscape of Hoosier Politics

Longtime WTHR-TV political reporter Kevin Rader says he picks up “ripples” on Twitter or Facebook about posts that are gaining steam, getting retweets and likes, that make him take notice to a certain policy or official’s statement. “It’s almost like an immediate Nielsen Report that comes to your desk every day that you can look at and say, ‘Oh, this is interesting … or this is interesting,’ ” he notes.

John Zody, chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party, believes social media is “big” for candidates and officeholders – and not just in a reactionary sense. “You have to think about how people are receiving news. It’s not just one way (traditional media) or the other (social media). You’ve got to have the proactivity to get out there and make sure it’s communicated every single way and exhaust every possible resource.”

His counterpart for the Republican Party, Tim Berry, says “The advantage of social media is that you can talk directly to your constituents. You’re not taking through Kevin or the Indianapolis Star. You’re talking directly to your constituents and then that is shared – your perspective is shared. And that’s what people sometimes miss through the use of social media – the opportunity to talk directly to your intended target.”

But there does need to be caution with social media usage, according to Andrew Downs, IPFW political science professor and director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics.

“It has got to be part of an overall strategy. You can’t ignore it; you’ve got to be present. But if you let it dominate, which it’s easy to do, you will lose. It doesn’t play that big of a role yet,” he asserts.

Rader offers another example of how Twitter, for example, has changed his job.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been frustrated by people who have now realized, ‘Look, I don’t have to make a statement to the media. All I have to do is Tweet a little something out and I don’t have to answer a question.’ You find yourself thinking, ‘Oh boy, so are we really serving the people sitting at home?’ You don’t get any follow-up, anything in-depth and it’s become acceptable now.”

But what can the media do? It has little choice but to cover it. And as Downs quips, “Yes, you don’t have to answer questions. That’s the beauty of social media (for candidates).”

Read much more from this group in the September-October edition of BizVoice magazine, where they discuss the climate in the state and what to look for on Election Day. A related article in the same issue focuses on the use of “digital first” technology to reach voters.

BizVoice Keeps Earning Accolades

Six recent honors from the Indiana Society of Professional Journalists and the national APEX competition raise the BizVoice total of national and state recognitions to 69. The honors received for 2013 work include:

APEX Awards of Excellence:

Indiana SPJ

One of the highlights remains a Grand Award in the national APEX competition for the “Let’s Make a (Business) Deal” five-story package in the September-October 2011 edition. Stories were written by Rebecca Patrick and Tom Schuman. There were nearly 3,400 entrants with 100 earning the Grand Award.