Ready Indiana Gets New Leader

A former Indiana Department of Education employee who has spent her career exploring successful post-secondary opportunities for students has joined the Indiana Chamber of Commerce in a newly-defined role. Amy Marsh is now the organization’s director of college and career readiness initiatives.

Marsh will oversee Ready Indiana and Indiana Skills. In addition, she will be a key part of the Indiana Chamber’s expanding workforce development efforts.

An Indianapolis native, Marsh is a graduate of Butler University with a bachelor’s in education and a master’s in school counseling.

Previously, she was an independent consultant focusing on career pathways, school counseling, career and technical education and curriculum development. She has worked for the College Board (the company that administers the SAT) as a senior educational manager in the K-12 division. Prior to that, Marsh worked for the Indiana Department of Education as the state coordinator for advanced placement, international baccalaureate and dual credit and as the assistant director of college and career readiness.

Marsh has also been a school teacher, school counselor and director of high school counseling – all at Indianapolis schools.

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®.

Throwback Thursday: Senior Staffers Still Going Strong a Decade Later

I recently came upon the Indiana Chamber’s 2003 Annual Report. In reviewing our old products, a snapshot of our web site at the time and the overall design elements in our marketing materials, I discovered a lot can change in 10 years.

However, what struck me most was what hasn’t. On this page featuring our senior staff leaders at the time, you see Darla Barnett (CFO), Jennifer Elkin (Senior VP), Mark Lawrance (Senior VP) and Jim Wagner (Director of Business Development). What’s quite intriguing is that all of those people are STILL on the Chamber staff in 2013. (The page also lists our former VP of Labor Relations George Raymond as the fifth senior staff member — who just retired from the Chamber last year.)

Hopefully this speaks to our workplace culture that our most experienced employees are with us for the long haul, and it’s a pleasure to work in their company.

And speaking of workplace culture, we look forward to honoring other Indiana companies for their efforts at the 9th Annual Best Places to Work in Indiana Awards Dinner on May 1.

Another Successful Annual Dinner in the Books

Over 1,500 folks participated in last night's Annual Awards Dinner, and the central theme was to honor Indiana's contribution to the U.S. military. It was an enjoyable, yet humbling evening. I'd like to thank my coworkers for putting on another memorable event. The keynote from Gen. Stan McChrystal was enlightening, and here is some information about the award winners:

Business Leader of the Year: Steve Ferguson, chairman of Cook Group, Inc., Bloomington – “Steve Ferguson is a class act and has a thoughtful and calming way about him. He is a perpetual optimist and has a good way of getting people to focus on the right things, the task at hand and getting it done,” offers Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar. “I think we all should aspire to be like Steve in terms of his approach to business and in particular his approach to interpersonal interactions.”

An attorney by trade, Ferguson was a Cook Group consultant for more than two decades before finally being persuaded to make the partnership official in the early 1990s. He was company founder Bill Cook’s confidante and trusted advisor (Cook passed away in 2011).

Today, the Cook Group (which also includes enterprises in the retail, real estate and travel/transportation industries) employs 11,000, has annual sales of approximately $2 billion and generates more than a million medical device products each day.

The importance of what the core company does hits home daily, Ferguson says.

 “We see those stories – a child who is surviving, a parent who lives to see his grandchildren. I would think everybody in the company, whether they are on the floor manufacturing or in leadership, realizes that every device is going to affect somebody’s life.”

Another Cook legacy that Ferguson has been heavily involved with is building restoration. Ferguson led the affiliate responsible for these projects, which began locally in Bloomington in the 1970s. The crowning jewel would come in 2007 with the return to glory of the West Baden Hotel and creation of the French Lick Resort.

“It’s an impact project. There’s a lot of involvement in the bricks and mortar, and I think we’ve done a very nice job there. But it’s much more than that. To bring it back to life and to have people visit there and enjoy it, which was one of the things Bill always wanted.”

Ferguson spends three workdays at Cook headquarters in Bloomington and two at the French Lick Resort. He listens to those running the day-day-day operations and imparts his wisdom without telling them what to do. It’s all done with a positive attitude that he finds so important.

“I think you need to be around positive people and you need to be a positive person yourself. If someone asks how I am, I always say ‘I couldn’t be better.’ I get up every day feeling like that,” shares the 72-year-old.                                                           

A welcome activity for Ferguson is volunteering and community involvement, which he believes is something everybody should embrace. One such effort that remains near and dear to his heart is the 800 basketball games he coached. Other highlights: He served 12 years on the IU Board of Trustees and was a member of the state’s Higher Education Commission and Indiana’s Education Roundtable.

Government Leader of the Year: former U.S Sen. Richard Lugar – “Few government leaders have made as wide and positive an impact as Richard Lugar has for his home state and nation,” offers Brinegar. “In fact, ‘Government Leader of a Lifetime’ might well be a more appropriate designation.” Lugar was also the inaugural Government Leader of the Year in 1990.

After two terms as Indianapolis mayor, Lugar represented Indiana for 36 years in the U.S. Senate.

During his time in the Senate, Lugar was known for his bipartisanship and thoughtful approach to various complex issues – including the dismantling of weapons of mass destruction. As a testament to these traits and his many accomplishments, Lugar is one of the recipients of this year’s Presidential Medal of Freedom – the nation’s highest civilian honor presented to those who have made especially meritorious contributions to U.S. security or national interests.

The 81-year-old Lugar hasn’t slowed down after leaving Congress. As president of the Lugar Center in Washington D.C., he continues his work on many of the same passions that dominated his career, including energy and national security issues. Recent diplomacy efforts included trips to South Korea, Azerbaijan and Montenegro.

“(Energy) is still politically charged; the battle over the Keystone XL pipeline seems to go on and on and on. Many people take the point of view that climate change requires that all fossil fuels be curtailed. I’m optimistic – balance of payments are down, production in the United States is up and our foreign policy has changed because of much less dependence upon the Middle East and other areas that are hostile to us,” Lugar explains.

Regarding money matters, he has confidence Americans can find solutions to the many challenges.

“My hope is that there is going to be more optimism. We are in a degree of economic recovery, even if not as strong as all of us wish it was, that compared to other countries … we are still the strongest and are recognized that way. The dollar is still the best currency; this is where the Chinese want to put their reserves,” he emphasizes.

Lugar has also expanded his relationship with the University of Indianapolis to form the Lugar Academy, which provides students with unique learning experiences here and in Washington. Lugar also teaches university students in Indiana and at Georgetown University.

When he’s not helping to prepare the next generation of business and civic leaders, you might find Lugar on the 604-acre Marion County family farm that he still manages today, planting and pruning trees with his son, Bob. Family is especially important to Lugar; he met longtime wife, Charlene, when the two served as co-presidents of the Denison University student body.

“We have continued to be supportive of each other through all the public life ups and downs and the raising of four wonderful sons, who I have enormous pride in and have great achievements of their own. These have been critical factors in my ability to serve. My family has wanted to be teammates in this and I’ve included them,” he adds.

Community of the Year: Bedford – “A community that adapts to changing industries and citizen needs is one that will succeed,” states Brinegar. “To see Bedford thrive and capitalize on partnerships at all levels to support its businesses and residents is heartening. The community sets a wonderful example.”

Bedford’s comprehensive plan (which hadn’t been updated in 25 years) centers on strategic investment and downtown revitalization. The city honed in on expanding education and workforce development efforts; diversifying and continuing to support growing industries, including health care and defense manufacturing; plus beautifying buildings and offering affordable housing for seniors.

Strengthened partnerships among the city, county and private sector paved the way for the community to focus on the high unemployment rate that was burdening the small city of 14,000 in south central Indiana.

Bedford's progress was recognized by the state earlier this year, as it was chosen as a Stellar Community. Only two Indiana communities are designated as such each year. The award brings $19 million in state, local and private funds to Bedford for planned improvements.

The awards dinner followed the Indiana Chamber’s fall board of directors and annual membership meetings. Indiana Chamber Volunteers of the Year were announced during a lunch ceremony: Ron Christian (Vectren, Evansville); Mike Campbell (recently retired from Neace Lukens, Indianapolis); and Melissa Proffitt Reese (Ice Miller, Indianapolis).

Patty Prosser, managing partner of Career Consultants – Oi Partners, of Indianapolis, was elected the Indiana Chamber’s 2014 chair of the board of directors.

RECENT INDIANA CHAMBER ANNUAL AWARD WINNERS:

Business Leader of the Year
Scott Dorsey – 2012
Jean Wojtowicz – 2011
Mike Wells – 2010
John Swisher – 2009
Tony George – 2008

Community of the Year
Indianapolis – 2012
Kokomo – 2011
Terre Haute – 2010
Valparaiso – 2009
Noblesville – 2008

Government Leader of the Year
Sen. Carlin Yoder and Rep. Jerry Torr – 2012
Speaker of the House Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long – 2011
Tony Bennett, state superintendent of public instruction – 2010
Stan Jones, former state commissioner for higher education – 2009
Former Gov. Joe Kernan and Chief Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court Randall Shepard – 2008

Continue reading

Education and Business Must Work Together to Succeed

Outstanding Talent is the first of four drivers in the Indiana Chamber of Commerce’s Indiana Vision 2025 economic development action plan. Two goals of that driver directly address the importance of businesses being involved in upcoming Indiana College Success Coalition efforts. They are the need to:

  • “increase to 90% the proportion of Indiana students who graduate from high school ready for college and/or career training”; and
  • “develop, implement and fully fund a comprehensive plan for addressing the skills shortages of adult and incumbent workers who lack minimum basic skills.”

In order to achieve success in these areas, K-12, higher education and businesses must work together. The Indiana College Success Coalition is providing the opportunity for that to take place.

Five county summits (sponsored by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education’s Learn More Indiana initiative) have taken place, with two more coming up in October. Each is designed to allow community organizations, education representatives and business leaders to discuss opportunities and challenges in their areas. But after attending four of the first five summits, one piece of the puzzle that I’ve seen missing is the business input.

To voice concern about workers lacking skills or not being prepared for the workplace is understood. The next required step, however, is being part of the solution. The groups noted above must all collaborate. Employers must clearly communicate employee expectations – and these summits are one way to do just that.

Below is information on the two remaining summits, followed by details of an October 9 meeting in which you can learn more or potentially start a coalition in your county.

  • October 24, Lawrence County, Bedford Middle School (4:00-5:00 reception, 5:00-7:00 p.m., program). RSVP to Sarah Richardson at srichardson@hoosieruplands.org or call (812) 849-4447.
  • October 30, Hamilton County, Westfield High School (6:00-6:30, reception, 6:30-8:30 p.m., program). No advance registration required. Contact Nancy Ramsey (n.ramsey@yourcompasstocampus.org or 317-501-2473 for more information).

The October 9 Indiana College Success Coalition informational meeting (1:00-3:15 p.m.) will take place at the Indianapolis Wyndham West. Registration is requested prior to October 1. Contact Sue Reynolds (812-349-4142) with questions.

The Indiana College Success Coalition, sponsored by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education (Learn More Indiana), currently includes almost 1,500 organizations in 50 counties. Collectively, they have implemented over 2,100 activities to promote college access and success.  
 
Individuals living in counties that do not currently have a College Success Coalition are invited to start a coalition in their county.  In addition to start-up and progress funds, Learn More Indiana provides significant leadership team development, strategic planning resources, student data reports, mentoring and on-call support.  

Chamber Team Earns National Award

For most of my 15-year tenure at the Indiana Chamber, the organization has exceeded its reach. By that, I mean the Chamber has been among the top three or four statewide business groups in the country (in terms of members) despite an overall population that ranks in the range of 13th to 15th largest.

That performance was recognized at the recent Association of State Chamber Professionals conference. The Chamber earned second place for highest market share — a way of saying we have a higher percentage of members compared to the overall number of business in the state. Washington state led the way in that category (we're only kidding when we say they don't play fair with some lower-priced memberships; the Association of Washington Business is an outstanding organization).

It's the latest in a long line of ASCP honors for the membership team. Tim Brewer, who leads that group, points out that it is truly a team effort with public policy advocacy, training seminars, compliance publications and all the other Chamber programs and initiatives producing strong benefits for members across the state.  And you can probably put strong customer service at the top of that list.

Kudos to the membership team (smiling faces here) and all my colleagues for their outstanding work on your behalf.

 

D.C. Fly-in Helping Hoosier Business Leaders Connect with Washington

Policy decisions taking place in Congress have a tremendous impact on Hoosier businesses. That's why Chamber representatives and Indiana business leaders embarked yesterday on the 2013 D.C. Fly-in.

Participants have the opportunity to speak with their representative and senators during a panel discussion, moderated by Gerry Dick of Inside INdiana Business, and at a sit-down dinner. Day two features visits to congressional offices to continue the dialogue. The key agenda items that will be discussed are comprehensive tax and regulatory reform, as well as principled, pragmatic immigration reform.

New this year, the Indiana Chamber is partnering with several local chambers to present a unified voice. We're grateful the Chambers from Carmel, Fort Wayne, Terre Haute, Warsaw (Kosciusko County), Southern Indiana (One Southern), Indianapolis and Evansville have joined us.

"It is important to be able to review vital issues with our congressional leaders. It is also a great opportunity to build relationships with members of Congress and their staff," explains Cam Carter, Indiana Chamber vice president of economic development and federal relations.

The Chamber would like to especially thank our D.C. Fly-in sponsors: Build Indiana Council, Duke Energy, Faegre Baker Daniels and Zimmer, Inc.

Throwback Thursday: 1944 Chamber Board Meeting in Gary

While digging through the archives, we found this packet from a Chamber board of directors meeting in Gary in 1944. A compiliation of some text:

Minutes of Board of Directors Meeting
September 9-10, 1944

The second regular meeting in 1944 of the Board of Directors of the Indiana State Chamber of Commerce was held in Gary, Indiana September 9-10. The Board members, their wives and the staff were guests of Mr. S.M. Jenks, General Superintendent of the Carnegie-Illinois Steel Corporation…

The meeting opened with a tour of the plant of the Carnegie-Illinois Steel Corporation on Saturday forenoon, September 9, with Mr. Jenks, Mr. J.L Perry, President of the Carnegie-Illinois Steel Corporation, and a number of his assistants conducting the tour. Following the completion of the tour, the Directors were guests of the Steel Corporation at a luncheon. This luncheon also was attended by the officers and members of the Board of Directors of the Gary Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Jenks presided at the luncheon and the program included remarks of welcome by Mr. W.E. Hadley, Manager of Operations, Chicago District, Carnegie-Illinois Steel Corporation; response by Mr. Dean Mitchell, President of the Indiana State Chamber of Commerce; and remarks by Mr. J.L. Perry, President of the Carnegie-Illinois Steel Corporation…

THE EVENING DINNER PROGRAM
The dinner for Directors, their wives and guests on the evening of Saturday, September 9, was held at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago and was preceded by a cocktail party.
    

Many of the public policy issues addressed at the meeting included unemployment compensation, old age and survivors’ insurance taxes, public welfare problems, hospitalization and sickness insurance, federal and state taxation, state aid to local government, city financing and tax exemptions.

Chamber Communications Team Earns APEX Award

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce communications team earned an APEX (Awards for Publication Excellence) Award of Excellence in a 2013 national competition conducted by Virginia-based Communications Concepts.

The winning entry was a membership advocacy video that has been used in demonstrating the Chamber’s impact on public policy and the return on investment for its members. Eight members of the Chamber board of directors from throughout the state were interviewed regarding the organization and its efforts to help produce the best possible business climate. The Chamber partnered with WFYI Productions in compiling the video.

More than 2,400 entries in a broad variety of categories were evaluated in the APEX competition. Approximately one-third earned some type of recognition.

The Chamber’s BizVoice magazine has received 63 national and state awards over the past 14 years, including the prestigious APEX Grand Award in 2012. 

Chamber Scores Hoosier Legislators on 2013 Voting Records

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce handed out scores today to all 150 state legislators for their voting records on pro-economy, pro-jobs legislation during the 2013 General Assembly. The numbers, released in the organization’s annual Legislative Vote Analysis, also contain a two-year total for each legislator.

The 2013 scores range from 44% to 100%. House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-District 88 of Indianapolis), who votes at his discretion and therefore was scored on fewer bills, was the lone perfect mark. The highest full-time voting record for 2013 was Rep. Ed Clere (R-District 72 of New Albany) at 97%. The top senator was Joe Zakas (R-District 11 of Granger) at 87%. Last year, there were 15 legislators with 100%.

The reason for the slightly lower vote scores overall is the type of public policies on the docket, observes Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar.

“The issues in 2013 were more complex and less partisan in nature. Two examples involved the Common Core academic standards and the ratepayer protection for the Rockport synthetic natural gas plant. Both were highly complicated – containing various provisions – and had significant supporters and opponents in both parties. This could very well be a sign of things to come.”

All scores and the full report are available at the Indiana Chamber’s web site at www.indianachamber.com/lva.

Brinegar also points out that the Senate scores, on average, were notably lower than in recent years. “That happened because the Senate watered down several crucial bills or simply refused to move other pro-jobs bills altogether.

“What’s more, the gap between the top (87%) and bottom (60%) scores in the Senate was closer this year, as Democrat scores increased overall while Republicans went down,” he notes.

“All in all, however, it was another successful session for Hoosier businesses and their workers. Legislators, for the most part, voted to grow jobs and move our state forward – and the results show it.”

A total of 19 legislators also received a star designation for their significant efforts on issues deemed of critical importance or their overall leadership. Among them: Speaker Bosma and first-term House Minority Leader Scott Pelath (D-District 9 of Michigan City) who together championed the Indiana Career Council legislation.

Says Brinegar of Pelath: “He brought a breath of fresh air to the House and it was noticeable. From our perspective, things were much more focused on policy issues than political issues.”

New this year in the vote descriptions is a 2025 icon next to those bills that directly reflect the goals contained in the Indiana Chamber’s long-term economic development plan, Indiana Vision 2025.

“We do the Legislative Vote Analysis to keep Hoosier employers and citizens informed about what’s going on at the Indiana Statehouse and how their legislators are voting on issues vital to Indiana’s economic future. This report makes it clear which legislators support pro-job growth and pro-business issues, and which legislators do not,” Brinegar explains.

Legislators who score 70% or greater for the most recent two-year voting period are eligible for endorsement by the Indiana Chamber’s political action committee, Indiana Business for Responsive Government.

Bills used in the report were selected based on their significant impact to the state’s economic climate and workforce. Lawmakers are notified of the Indiana Chamber position and reasoning on these bills through various communications during the legislative session – and prior to key votes being taken. Only floor votes for which there is a public record are used in the Legislative Vote Analysis.

Copies of the Legislative Vote Analysis report are sent to all legislators and Indiana Chamber board members, and made available online for all businesspersons, community leaders and citizens.

This marks the 29th year the Indiana Chamber has measured state legislators’ voting performance on bills that reflect the organization’s public policy positions.