Details Announced for Chamber’s 2017 D.C. Fly-in

Hoosier business leaders can discuss public policy with their congressional members during the Indiana Chamber of Commerce’s annual D.C. Fly-in event on September 27-28.

The Washington gathering offers the opportunity for business leaders to meet with members of Indiana’s congressional delegation and let the lawmakers know how policies and bills being debated on the national stage will impact the state’s economy back home.

A highlight of the agenda: Sens. Joe Donnelly and Todd Young will lead a policy discussion following a dinner on the event’s opening night.

Day two includes a breakfast program that will feature Marc Lotter, special assistant to the President and press secretary to Vice President Mike Pence. Lotter is a native Hoosier with decades of experience in Indiana politics and was also Pence’s press secretary through the 2016 campaign and transition.

Group visits to congressional offices will take place after the morning program.

Zimmer Biomet is the dinner sponsor. Allegion is the cocktail reception sponsor. Build Indiana Council is the Legislative Briefing Sponsor.

“Zimmer Biomet is proud to be a long-time sponsor of the Indiana Chamber’s D.C. Fly-in. This is a unique opportunity to interact with members and staff of the Indiana Congressional delegation. There is no better way to discuss a wide range of policy issues affecting the Hoosier business community and to see firsthand what is happening on Capitol Hill,” says Chris Cerone, vice president of global government affairs for Zimmer Biomet of Warsaw.

Register for the D.C. Fly-in online or by calling customer service at (800) 824-6885. Cost is $199 per person, with group discounts available. Each attendee is responsible for securing travel arrangements. Discounted hotel rooms are available for Indiana Chamber Fly-in guests at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill.

Event sponsors are AT&T, The Boeing Company, Duke Energy, The Kroger Co., Old National Bank and Wabash Valley Power.

Chamber Report Card Shows State Is Moving Forward, But a Quicker Pace Required

While economic momentum continues in portions of the state, the Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 Report Card and 10th annual workforce survey clearly illustrate challenges that need both short- and long-term attention.

Among the findings: not enough skilled workers to meet economic needs; high rates of smoking and obesity that prove costly and impact quality of life; rising electricity prices; and a lack of statewide entrepreneurial activity and venture capital to support such efforts.

“There are a number of positive developments – both taking place every day and in our latest research – that are cause to celebrate,” says Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar. “But it is also evident that a lack of workers, unhealthy lifestyle choices and limited Indiana-based funding to grow promising companies is keeping the state from realizing its full potential.”

The Indiana Vision 2025 Report Card compares the 50 states on 62 metrics related to 36 goals grouped by four drivers: Outstanding Talent, Attractive Business Climate, Superior Infrastructure, and Dynamic and Creative Culture.

Overall, Indiana did better on the 2017 version than the 2015 Report Card. Improvement occurred in 36 metrics – up from 28 two years ago; Indiana also declined in 16 rankings, which was three less than in 2015. The state remained the same or there was no updated data available in eight metrics; that number was 12 in 2015. (Two metrics couldn’t be compared.)

Some of Indiana’s top performances include:

  • Business regulatory environment: Regulatory Freedom Index (2nd) and Small Business Policy Index (9th)
  • Early education: A variety of top 10 ranks in NAEP (National Assessment of Education Progress) test scores, particularly at the fourth-grade level
  • Exports: 10th among the 50 states, extending a string of similar rankings

The early education gains, however, are countered by a lack of workers in critical areas, including STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). The Report Card reveals Indiana colleges and universities produce the third most science and technology degrees, but the state is only 42nd in the adult population with such degrees.

In addition, two troubling trends from the Indiana Chamber’s annual employer workforce survey continue:

  • The number of respondents that left jobs unfilled due to under-qualified applicants increased to 47% – from 39%, 43% and 45% the last three years
  • Those indicating that filling their workforce was their biggest challenge also increased – 29% after previous marks of 20%, 24% and 27%. Combine that with those answering next biggest challenge and the number soars to 79% – following totals of 72%, 74% and 76% the last three years

“Employers tell us, both through the survey and in their daily work experiences, that they simply can’t fulfill growth possibilities due to the lack of skilled workers,” Brinegar notes. “While many efforts are underway to prepare future employees and upgrade the abilities of those in the workforce today, those programs must be operated at the highest level of effectiveness and accelerated.”

The unhealthy lifestyle choices among Hoosiers carries a $6 billion annual price tag in increased health care costs and lost productivity. Indiana’s 20.6% adult smoking rate is an improvement over past years, but ranks 39th among all states. A six-rank improvement in adult obesity still leaves the state with a 36th-place rating and nearly a third of adults are considered obese.

Electricity prices, once considered a strong advantage for the most manufacturing-intensive state in the country, are now 29th for industrial customers and 26th for commercial. And while progress has been made on gathering data to avoid the water crises that have plagued others, the state must move quicker on regional planning and governance issues regarding future supplies.

In the important area of Dynamic and Creative Culture, momentum in central Indiana is overshadowed by poor statewide performance in a series of metrics, including: Kauffman Entrepreneurial Index (tied for 44th); job creation among new firms (44th); and venture capital (35th).

“Indiana must continue to make all areas of the state attractive destinations for workers and the companies that create jobs,” Brinegar concludes. “We’re encouraged by the regional cooperation that has emerged in recent years and look forward to enhancing our statewide performance and outcomes in future Report Cards.”

About Indiana Vision 2025
Mission: “Indiana will be a global leader in innovation and economic opportunity where enterprises and citizens prosper.” Indiana Vision 2025 was developed by a statewide task force of community, business and education leaders. The plan was released in early 2012. This third Report Card is available at www.indianachamber.com/2025.

About the Indiana Chamber Foundation’s Workforce Employer Survey
Sponsored by WGU Indiana, the 10th annual survey was conducted in partnership with Walker. More than 1,200 employers responded. Full results, including questions on workforce training and opioid use in the workplace, are available at www.indianachamber.com/education.

Statewide Discussions and Analysis
The 2017 Report Card and workforce survey will be the focus of six regional forums (to discuss the results, obtain local analysis and share best practices). The events are sponsored by Duke Energy Foundation; Indiana Michigan Power; NIPSCO, a NiSource company; and Vectren.

The forum schedule: June 6 (South Bend), June 7 (Hammond), June 27 (Sellersburg), June 28 (Indianapolis), June 29 (Evansville) and July 20 (Fort Wayne).

Connect, Make an Impact at D.C. Fly-In

congressIndiana Chamber members go to Washington each September to discuss key policy issues with the Indiana congressional delegation. In 2016, a little politics might be worked into those conversations. Either way, it’s your opportunity to make an impact.

The event is the annual D.C. Fly-In on September 14-15. It features a roundtable discussion with Indiana’s congressional delegation on the opening night. Day two includes a panel of national and state issue experts, followed by group visits to congressional offices.

Expect to learn more and advocate on key issues such as transportation, trade, immigration and the Every Student Succeeds Act.

“It’s a very interesting time in Washington,” remarks Caryl Auslander, Chamber vice president of federal affairs. She points to a few (of many) reasons why: “Indiana will have a new member of Congress with Sen. Coats retiring. And with the appointment of a new Supreme Court justice nominee on the line, the potential for a change in power in the Senate and the Presidential race is extremely important.”

Register today for the D.C. Fly-In online or by calling customer service at (800) 824-6885. Cost is $149 per person, with group discounts available. Each attendee is responsible for securing travel arrangements. Discounted hotel rooms are available for Chamber Fly-in guests at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill.

Zimmer Biomet is the dinner sponsor. The breakfast program sponsor is Allegion PLC. The hospitality sponsor is Build Indiana Council.

Event sponsors: The Boeing Company, Duke Energy, Hartman Global IP Law, The Kroger Co., Old National Bank and Wabash Valley Power.

Additional sponsorship opportunities are available by contacting Jim Wagner at (317) 264-6876.

“The entire Indiana congressional delegation is typically involved in some way in this event,” Auslander comments. “To bring everyone together in the same room is pretty amazing and an incredible benefit for our members.”

Ivy Tech ‘Switchboard’ to Help Grow Businesses in Monroe County

The Switchboard is an online portal designed to connect entrepreneurs and business owners to the local resources they need to start or grow a business in Monroe County.

It was created through a partnership with The Gayle and Bill Cook Center for Entrepreneurship at Ivy Tech, Bloomington Economic Development Corporation, the City of Bloomington and through grants provided by the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County and Duke Energy.

Anyone interested in being a part of or contributing to Bloomington’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is encouraged to list yourself or your organization as a resource on The Switchboard to allow entrepreneurs to access your business or service (or just connect with you over coffee). To create a profile, just visit the site and click the “list a resource” button on the home page.

Furthermore, see the video below to learn more about The Gayle and Bill Cook Center for Entrepreneurship at Ivy Tech’s Bloomington campus:

Needed: Energy Academy Participants, Sponsors

The Duke Energy Academy at Purdue University is looking for a few good students and teachers (as well as additional sponsors). Applications for the free week-long summer program are due by January 18.

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Why is this important?

By 2030, the global demand for energy will have increased by 50% based on the predicted human population increase. A secure energy future, both in the United States and abroad, needs solutions that come from a diverse energy portfolio. Unfortunately, we face a national crisis in the number and quality of students entering the STEM disciplines that will have a future impact on our nation’s ability to lead the world in the energy sector.

To address these issues, Purdue University has launched an Energy Academy to inspire high school students and teachers in energy sciences and engineering. Participation is provided free of charge to the 42 participating students and 42 teachers. Teachers also will receive a $400 stipend.

The Energy Academy at Purdue will:

  • Conduct a week-long course (June 21-27) on STEM-related energy topics areas of power generation, transportation, power transmission, energy efficiency and new research frontier
  • Lectures: Guest speakers from Purdue, industry, and government will address energy-related topics of current interest and actively engage participants in open discussions
  • Tours: Examples include visit to a wind/solar farm, nuclear reactor and fossil energy power plant
  • Projects: A few student teams will work on energy-related research projects (hands on) based on STEM disciplines while others will participate in a team-based energy policy discussion. Teachers will develop STEM-based energy lesson plans that may be used as teaching modules for their classrooms
  • Hands-on and demonstration: Examples include wind turbine and solar challenge, energy storage, electricity distribution and transmission

Full details and registration available here.

Tour Events in Lafayette, Southern Indiana Connect Education with Industry

20140625_TF_Subaru_Legacy_Associates-8The Indiana Chamber recently co-sponsored two industry tours that brought educators and employers together to find ways to align efforts and better meet the needs of students.

The first event was in Lafayette at Subaru of Indiana Automotive. Educators, counselors and administrators listened to representatives from Caterpillar, Nanshan America, Kirby Risk, Duke Energy and Chrysler Group. Each employer seemed to be facing the same issue – a significant portion of their employees will soon be eligible for retirement and the current talent pool cannot replenish their workforce.

The group toured the Subaru plant, where they saw nearly every process for building a vehicle. Subaru, like many manufacturers, hires employees of almost all educational backgrounds, from high school diploma to master’s degree.

The next industry tour was in the southwest region at NSA Crane, a United States Navy installation. The base is the third largest naval installation in the world by geographic area and employs approximately 3,300 people.

Representatives from GKN Sinter Metals, TASUS Corporation, Cook Group and Jasper Engines all spoke about their workforces. Overwhelmingly, employer needs center on soft skills (communication, basic math and professionalism) and workforce readiness.

Matt Weinzapfel of Jasper Engines reported that 48% of their workforce hold an associate’s degree and/or technical certification and 36% hold no post-secondary degree, while only 16% hold bachelor’s degrees.

The group toured the Crane naval base and learned about jobs in electronic warfare, strategic missions and special missions. The base also offers internships within the various sectors.

“All of these jobs sitting open can be filled if we break down the knowledge barriers and reach students,” said Dan Peterson, vice president industry & government affairs, Cook Group.

The Indiana Youth Institute hosted the events, with the Center for Education and Career Innovation and the Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning also co-sponsoring.

Stanley: Duke Energy’s New Edwardsport Plant to Contribute to Affordable Electricity

Jim Stanley, President of Duke Energy Indiana, relays the status of the company’s new Edwardsport coal gasification facility.

Duke Energy’s new power plant using advanced integrated gasification combined cycle, or IGCC, technology that is being built in Edwardsport, Indiana, is an investment in the local community, the state and our future. 

When local, state and community leaders offered their support for Duke Energy’s decision to move forward with the project, they did so knowing the positive impact that reliable, affordable electricity could have on our state, the local community and the people we serve. When completed in 2012, the plant will produce 10 times as much power with significantly less environmental impact than the much smaller and older plant it will replace. It will be the first major new power plant built in Indiana in more than 20 years and serve as a critical starting point to modernize the state’s aging electrical systems.

Some will say now is not the time to build an expensive new power plant. But by investing now, we can ensure our children and grandchildren will have the infrastructure they need for a better future. And by spreading out the cost of the plant over time, we can meet our future energy needs and pay for our investment without a dramatic increase in our family energy bills.

Furthermore, in these challenging economic times the impact the construction and eventual operation of the plant is having and will have on our economy is dramatic, generating good-paying, high-skilled jobs and spurring economic growth across the state. 

Currently about 1,400 electrical workers, iron workers, plumbers, carpenters, laborers, and other professionals are working on the construction site.  This number is expected to grow to about 2,000 this summer. And when completed, the plant will employ about 100 full-time workers with high-skilled well-paid jobs. In addition, the 1.4 million to 1.7 million tons of Indiana coal the plant will use each year will contribute to an estimated 350+ new mining and railroad jobs. And, as one of the largest construction projects in Indiana, the Edwardsport plant has generated approximately $468 million dollars through contracts with 141 Indiana businesses, such as Bowen Engineering, BMW Constructors, F.A. Wilhelm, Gribbins Insulations and Solid Platform, just to name a few.

In these economic times, when Indiana workers are hard-pressed to find work and businesses are cutting back, supporters of the project should be commended for supporting high-value construction projects like Edwardsport that have an immediate economic impact on our state and local economies and serve as a catalyst for further growth and investment in the future.

Editor’s UPDATE: Congrats to Mr. Stanley on his new position as Duke Energy’s Senior VP of power delivery for U.S. operations.

Packing a Powerful Agenda for Energy Week

The topic last Friday was energy when the Indiana Chamber conducted its monthly Policy Issue Conference Call. We quickly discovered there was no shortage of topics. It would have been easy to expand the one hour of discussion with our own Vince Griffin, David Pippen of the governor’s office and Brandon Seitz of the Indiana Office of Energy Development.

We’ll recap just a few of my takeaways from that, with several of the subjects from that discussion undoubtedly returning during this Energy Week on the blog. We will feature a daily guest blog or other insight focused on Indiana energy developments. Consider the following:

  • Indiana is home to two of the biggest energy investments you will find anywhere: $4-billion plus being spent by BP in updating its Whiting Refinery to be able to better process heavy crude oil from Canada; and construction of Duke Energy’s $2.3 billion coal gasification plant in Edwardsport. For those who want coal to disappear, it’s not going to happen. This is the next generation of technology being implemented for the first time on a broad scale that will guide the use of abundant coal reserves.
  • There are 616 wind turbines (the number could seemingly change any day) towering in the Indiana skyline. More projects are being proposed and studied — and that’s a good thing. But supporters need to remain realistic as wind will not replace (but supplement) more traditional power sources. After all, if the wind is not blowing, it’s lights out — so to speak.
  • Indiana’s success in wind and ethanol production is due to incentives (both state and federal), not mandates. Other states have opted for the renewable standards that require a certain percentage of power to be generated by various alternative sources. For Hoosiers, the preferred method is innovation — discovering new sources for ethanol, rewarding entrepreneurs, emphasizing efficiency and utlizing technology to make better use of existing resources.

Again, there is so much more that was discussed last week and continues to be part of the energy mix. Bottom line: Indiana makes things, it always will make things and reliable, low-cost energy is needed to make that happen.

And, if you want to supplement information with education, check out the Chamber’s popular Indiana Conference on Energy and Environmental Management. It’s June 15 at the Hyatt Regency Indianapolis. 

Rogers Staying in Energy Game for Next Five Years

Duke Energy’s Jim Rogers has spent 20-plus years as a CEO in the energy industry (starting with PSI Energy in Plainfield in 1988). And despite his wife’s reaction of "what the heck were you thinking?," he acknowledged today at the Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Conference on Energy Management that he’s signed up for five more years.

"I love this industry," he told the conference attendees. And while he has seen many changes in his career, he adds, "The next five years are going to be more transformative for our industry than the last 20 have been."

Rogers shared 10 facts about the current and future energy outlook before answering numerous questions. Among his revelations:

  • By 2050, Duke will have to retire or replace virtually every power plant it is operating today
  • The company is the third largest generator of both coal and nuclear energy. It is currently building new coal and natural gas facilities, has two nuclear proposals being reviewed and is also active in various areas of renewables
  • While there will always be skeptics, he says the majority of scientists have spoken in favor of climate change and that he is a believer

Rogers thinks that the cap and trade legislation that passed the House earlier in the summer "will be improved by the Senate to minimize the cost impact to consumers. The transition, however, is not going to be free, not going to be easy and not going to be quick. It will take decades to make the transition, but we have to get to work on it now. Our mission has changed. We have to modernize and decarbonize our fleet to help our communities become the most energy efficient in the world."

Rogers’ take on three other issues:

  • China: "They’re moving fast. The reality is that China gets it. They’re the number one producer of solar panels; number one producer of wind turbines. They have 14 nuclear plants under construction. That’s why we’re partnering with them. We want to move at China time."
  • Industry employment: "Real jobs are going to be created if we rebuild the nuclear industry in the United States. There are no such things as green jobs; every job is a green job. It’s all about improving productivity and becoming more efficient. Let’s quit trying to draw lines."
  • Smart grid and energy efficiency: "I believe this will turn out to be the greatest enabler, and I can’t even envision today what it will enable." He explains that while Duke and other companies are currently focused on generation of power to the meter, the future includes writing software for specific energy uses. "Our energy efficiency will be driven by technology. The same way you throw the switch today and the lights come on, you will throw the switch and it will optimize your use of energy. The boundaries of our business are being fundamentally redrawn."

Jim Rogers Bringing Energy Philosophy Back to Indiana

So what has Jim Rogers, chief executive of Duke Energy, been up to in recent months?

  • Appearing on "60 Minutes" to support cap and trade, while also discussing on the show the necessity of carbon capture and sequestration of coal
  • Talking to the top players in China’s power industry about partnering on clean energy technologies
  • Being named the 2009 Citizen of the Carolinas by the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce (some of the past winners: Rev. Billy Graham, Dean Smith, Michael Jordan and Ben Bernanke)

Rogers "comes home" to Indiana on September 2 as the keynote speaker for the Indiana Conference on Energy Management. Rogers came to Plainfield-based PSI Energy in 1988 as chairman, president and CEO. Mergers led to similar roles at Cinergy in Cincinnati and then Duke, one of the nation’s largest energy companies.

“When Jim Rogers arrived at PSI Energy  in the late 1980s, he brought a level of enthusiasm and vision that challenged the historically conservative power industry,” declares Vince Griffin, who worked for Rogers at that time and is now the Indiana Chamber vice president of environmental and energy policy. “This is unquestionably a challenging time for the electric power industry. Jim Rogers will undoubtedly bring his passion and perspective to this energy conference."

Duke Energy is also looking at its Edwardsport, Indiana facility as a pilot project for the future with its investment in a 630-megawatt IGCC (integrated gasification combined cycle) facility.