A Welcome Move: State’s Telecom Agreement With Agile Networks Denied

The state’s controversial proposed lease of its cell phone towers, fiber and public rights of way to Ohio-based Agile Networks officially won’t happen.

Governor Eric Holcomb put an end to it in an announcement Thursday. The Indiana Chamber applauds his decision and had been advocating for such a resolution.

Funds from the proposed $50 million lease were earmarked for bicentennial construction projects, with the Agile agreement promoted as a way to bring greater connectivity to rural areas.

Beginning last September, after learning in more detail about the agreement, the Chamber voiced significant concerns and objections on behalf of the state’s telecommunications industry.

Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar had numerous discussions with the Indiana Finance Authority and State Budget Committee members – the groups needing to approve the deal. The Chamber made a clear request that the agreement not proceed.

Therefore, we are very pleased that Gov. Eric Holcomb shared our belief that this deal was bad for Indiana.

In his statement, the Governor said: “I have asked the Office of Management and Budget to assess how best to move forward and to develop alternatives we might pursue. Enhancing broadband availability in rural parts of our state will be an important part of my consideration.”

The Chamber believes that’s the correct approach.

Our board-approved position supports free market competition in the delivery of advanced telecommunications services. Yet this deal went too far and essentially suppressed this important principle. Not to mention, good Hoosier companies inexplicably were not even given equal opportunity to bid for the project.

Additionally, all industry players and competing technologies should be on a level playing field. However, this proposed deal would have only served to pit the state against private providers.

Getting better broadband access to rural areas of the state should be a priority. That was unlikely to happen with the now-defunct deal, which would have done nothing to drive Agile Networks to serve our rural areas. The company’s publicized plans were to build in the state’s largest cities – Evansville, Fort Wayne and Indianapolis – where cable and broadband services and competitive choices already exist.

Looking ahead, the Chamber pledges to work with state government in any way it can to advance the effort to truly bring connectivity to rural parts of the state. These areas must be brought up to date technologically to help reverse their downward population and economic trends.

Real Journey Begins for Transportation Funding Bill

During a six-hour hearing before the House Roads and Transportation Committee, there were some technical changes made in the bill and the annual increase for the fuel tax was capped to no more than one cent per year. Chamber President Kevin Brinegar provided testimony that this bill was about “revenue recovery” on the lost buying power of the gas tax since it was last raised. (Read the Chamber’s full testimony.) That lost revenue, plus better fuel economy means less money for roads. The Chamber is grateful to board members Drew Coolidge with SIRVA (moving company) in Fort Wayne and John Thompson (owner of several Indiana-based businesses) who testified how better roads impact their business, their communities and Indiana. House Bill 1002 will be considered in the coming weeks by the Ways and Means Committee before the desired House floor vote.

Call to Action: Connect with your state representative via our grassroots page. Let them know today that long-term funding is important to you and your company!

Brinegar: We Commend INDOT on I-69 Route

i69The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) announced today that the preferred route for Interstate 69 section 6 between Martinsville and Indianapolis is the State Road 37 corridor. Indiana Chamber of Commerce President and Hoosier Voices for I-69 Chairman Kevin Brinegar offers his comments:

“We support INDOT’s decision that the State Road 37 corridor is the best alternative for completing the I-69 extension and it will be the best investment for Hoosiers. The corridor requires far less new construction than the alternatives, impacts the fewest homeowners and has the most consensus among all interested parties.

“We commend INDOT on the thorough selection process and the analysis used to come to this decision.

“While we’ve made much progress on the I-69 extension – most recently with the opening of Section 4 in Greene and Monroe counties in December – there is still much to be done from the Bloomington area up to Indianapolis. The state must remain committed to funding this important project and seeing it through to completion.

“In the not-too-distant future, I-69 will run continuously from Evansville to Fort Wayne and beyond. That will provide many more Hoosiers with better road access, leading to reduced travel time. And that also is very attractive for businesses, making Indiana an even more viable hub for companies and new jobs.”

Chamber Welcomes New Membership Manager for Northern Indiana

chamberlainMonica Chamberlain has joined the Indiana Chamber of Commerce as its new membership manager for the north central and northeastern regions of the state.

Chamberlain had spent the last seven years increasing revenue and enrollment at Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne, serving as the associate vice president of enrollment management. She was the institution’s director of admissions for three years prior.

Chamberlain resides in Fort Wayne and will continue to work out of that location.

She will be charged with business development in 29 Hoosier counties: Adams, Allen, Blackford, Cass, DeKalb, Delaware, Elkhart, Fulton, Grant, Howard, Huntington, Jasper, Jay, Kosciusko, LaGrange, LaPorte, Madison, Marshall, Miami, Noble, Pulaski, Randolph, St. Joseph, Starke, Steuben, Tipton, Wabash, Wells and Whitley.

Chamberlain holds a master’s degree in English and a bachelor’s in French, both from Indiana University.

“Monica has a strong connection to the Fort Wayne area community and beyond. She will be reaching out and visiting businesses to let them know how Indiana Chamber membership can help grow their organizations,” says Jennifer Elkin, Indiana Chamber senior vice president of marketing.

“We are excited that Monica is on our team and look forward to her being a strong voice for the Indiana Chamber.”

Prospective Indiana Chamber members can contact Chamberlain at (317) 264-6875 or mchamberlain@indianachamber.com.

CVC Celebrates Special Anniversary

Today marks 35 years of business storytelling for CVC Communications. The Fort Wayne-headquartered company has pioneered the application of communications technology, from video production to webinars and now custom, self-paced eLearning.

“Big birthdays often cause companies to reflect on milestones in their histories,” says CEO Marilyn Moran-Townsend. “We’ve chosen to instead focus on an interactive timeline filled with gratitude for our clients, our team, and the events that have made us stronger and more optimistic than ever about today and tomorrow.”

Moran-Townsend has served in a variety of volunteer leadership roles with the Indiana Chamber and other organization at all levels. She was named the 2001 Indiana Chamber Business Leader of the Year, among numerous honors.

Explore CVC’s 35 Years of Gratitude.

cvc

Hylant: Maximizing Its Chamber Investment

Orr_Shannon2How do you share your company culture with a crowd of 1,200 in a fun, festive atmosphere?

It’s one of the perks that comes with sponsoring the Best Places to Work in Indiana Awards Dinner and program.

“It’s an environment unlike any other,” declares Hylant office manager Shannon Orr. “This was the second year we were the partner sponsor for the event. To be able to celebrate with clients and those on the list – that’s huge for us.”

A bit of background about the Best Places to Work in Indiana program: Honorees are announced each February, with rankings unveiled at the May awards dinner. Winners are recognized in four categories – small, medium, large and major – and selected based on employer reports and anonymous employee surveys.

Hylant, one of the largest privately-held insurance brokerage firms in the United States, was among the 100 companies that made the 2015 Best Places to Work in Indiana list. It ranked No. 3 in the large employer category.

Headquartered in Toledo, Ohio, Hylant has offices in six states. Indiana locations include Bloomington, Fort Wayne and Indianapolis.

“Rolling out the red carpet” for team members and clients through training programs – particularly those that focus on human resources and wellness – is another way Hylant partners with the Chamber.

“It’s a great opportunity to invite clients and prospects to participate in something they’re interested in,” Orr emphasizes, “and to have meaningful, thought-provoking conversations on topics that matter to them.”

Brotherhood Mutual Lives Up to Name by Helping Staffers’ Children

????????????????????????????????????????????For the upcoming May/June edition of BizVoice, I’ve written several stories about companies making the Best Places to Work in Indiana list.

In speaking with Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company in Fort Wayne — a company that has made the list many times, I learned an important tidbit about how the organization helps the families of its staffers. By employing every college age kid whose parent works for the company for a period of time (40 hours per week for six to 12 weeks, starting at a salary of $10 per hour), Brotherhood Mutual helps these students gain quite an advantage.

“They may start doing data entry or working on the grounds, but as they continue through their college careers and pick their majors, we try to place them (in a related job),” explains Mark Robison, chairman and president. “So if they’re a graphic artist, they’ll be in our communications department — and accounting majors will be in our finance department. Or for upper classmen, if we don’t have a good fit for them, we’ll work with them and place them (and sponsor their work at an outside organization).”

He adds that his son was able to gain two internships in social work through the program, including one in Los Angeles.

“This year, we had 48 students apply – and we have 360 employees, so that many students coming in for the summer really changes the dynamic of the workplace,” Robison relays. “There’s more energy and it’s more exciting. The cool part is parents are taking care of each other’s kids, so the camaraderie is incredible.”

The company also supports employees’ adoption efforts, among many other family-focused benefits offered. This type of attitude is likely one of the reasons Brotherhood Mutual will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2017 — a remarkable milestone indeed.

Look for the article featuring Brotherhood Mutual and many others in the upcoming May/June edition of BizVoice.

Linking Veterans With Jobs and More

sThe Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs will be visiting eight Hoosier communities over the next several weeks, holding Community Outreach events that will offer veterans, active duty members and their dependents opportunities to connect with services and prospective employers.

All events are free. Registration is requested for planning purposes. Each event will be held from 1:00-6:00 p.m. (local time) in the following communities:

  • October 27 – Valparaiso – Porter County Expo Center, 215 E. Division Road, Valparaiso. Register
  • October 28 – South Bend – Ivy Tech Community College, 220 Dean Johnson Blvd, South Bend. Register 
  • October 29 – Ft. Wayne – Ivy Tech Community College, Coliseum Campus, Room 1640, Fort Wayne. Register
  • November 6 – Terre Haute – Ivy Tech Community College Terre Haute Main Campus, The Community Room, 8000 South Education Drive, Terre Haute. Register
  • November 13 – Bloomington – Ivy Tech Community College, 200 Daniels Way, Hoosier Times Student Commons, Bloomington. Register
  • November 20 – Columbus – Ivy Tech Community College, 4475 Central Avenue, Columbus Learning Center, Columbus. Register
  • December 4 – Lafayette – Ivy Tech Community College, Grand Hallway, 3101 S. Creasy Lane, Lafayette. Register
  • December 9 – Kokomo – Indiana Wesleyan, Kokomo Education and Conference Center, 1916 East Markland Avenue, Kokomo. Register

Additional outreach events will be planned for Muncie, New Albany, Bedford and Jasper. Those interested in attending events in these communities can find more information here or call (800) 400-4520.

“Each event will provide information and assistance with VA benefits, claims processing, remission of fees and even what to do if someone wants to enroll or return to college,” said Deanna Pugh, Director of Veterans Employment and Education. “The Indiana State Police, Dish, NiSource, United States Postal Service, Kroger and Lowes will be among the companies and organizations looking to hire employees to work in these communities.

“We will also offer Dale Carnegie sessions to help veterans prepare for interviews. We’re very excited about connecting our resources to our veteran communities and helping link those who have served our country with the many services designed specifically to assist them.”

A new state law that took effect July, 1, 2014, allows for approximately 26,000 post-911 veterans to apply for assistance through the Military Family Relief Fund. This new law eliminates the three-year restriction on access to the fund, which provides grants that may be used for needs such as food, housing, utilities, medical services, transportation and other essential family expenses. The Military Family Relief Fund has a balance of more than $7 million and lifting the cap will ensure those funds are available to support Hoosier veterans and their families.

Since its establishment in 1945, the Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA) has remained focused on aiding and assisting “Hoosier” veterans, and qualified family members or survivors, who are eligible for benefits or advantages provided by Indiana and the U.S. government.

Energy Offer: Save and Get Paid

Energy consumers in the South Bend and Fort Wayne regions can learn more about a new demand response program at upcoming presentations.

Participating organizations can receive payments year-round in exchange for agreeing to reduce energy use during times of high demand. The details will be explained during one-hour breakfast meetings on August 27 and 28.

EnerNOC provides the resources to help manage your energy management efforts. Registration and additional details.