Chamber Survey: Nearly 40% of Employers Left Jobs Unfilled Due to Under-Qualified Applicants

Jobs are there, but the employability of some Hoosiers isn’t matching what’s available says a new statewide survey by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. Of the 532 participating employers, 39% (202) said they recently have left jobs unfilled due to unqualified applicants.

“That number is way too high and speaks to the work that policymakers, educators and employers still have to do. And also what individuals often need to do to make themselves more marketable for the type of employment they desire,” asserts Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar. “Collectively, we need to do better at connecting the dots regarding the open jobs and the qualifications it takes to land one of them.”

The survey, in its seventh year, asked employers about their recruiting practices, training and continuing education offerings and skills needs in their workforce. More than 40% of the survey participants had under 50 employees and just over one-third represents manufacturing or advanced manufacturing industries.

In response to what education level is required for their unfilled jobs, two-thirds (67%) indicated beyond a high school degree, with 38% saying middle skills (certificates, certification or associate’s degree) and 29% a bachelor’s degree or higher. The most often cited occupations in need of good applicants were those in the skilled trades (such as an electrician or plumber) and engineering (from technician to design).

What makes getting the right talent pool mix all the more critical, Brinegar notes, is that 96% of the respondents said they expected the size of their workforce to increase or stay the same over the next 1-2 years. The majority – at 57% – are actually looking to add more employees during that time.

On a related topic, more than 70% of respondents (72%) said that filling their workforce was challenging, with nearly 20% labeling it the single biggest challenge they faced. “So even those that are able to find people for their open positions are having to spend more time on it than they would like, and more time away from the company’s direct mission,” Brinegar offers.

When it came to identifying what skills are the most difficult to find among applicants and new hires, several “soft skills” that are traditionally not assessed in an education setting were at the top.

Work ethic was the most lacking at 55%. Communication, problem solving and attendance/punctuality each registered 42-43%. Each of these soft skills was indicated as far more challenging to find than academic skills, such as reading, writing and math. Only 10% of the respondents said they had no challenges finding the skills they needed.

Derek Redelman, the Indiana Chamber’s vice president of education and workforce policy, emphasizes that “employers have tried to help themselves and their workers by offering tuition reimbursement, but not enough are taking advantage of the opportunity.”

Case in point: Over half of employers surveyed (242 of 447) reported having tuition reimbursement programs. Yet, 64% of those respondents (156 of 242) stated the programs were seldom used by their employees and 5% said they were never used. Only 31% of employers reported that their tuition reimbursement programs were used frequently.

“Hoosier employers are frustrated by the skills of available workers,” Redelman declares. “They are willing to invest time and resources to address those challenges, but what’s too often missing is the willingness of workers and applicants to pursue the training and skills that employers value.”

Employers surveyed also expressed interest in working with the education community to a greater extent. Two-thirds of respondents (67% of 458) said they felt businesses should be more involved in reviewing high school diploma and college degree requirements. And 90% felt employers should be more involved in the design of career and technical education (CTE) programs to make sure they were on target. Over half of employers (56% of 458) reported that they are currently involved with local schools, including internships (35%), classroom presentations (18%), job shadowing (16%) and more.

Consistent with last year’s results, over two-thirds of employers (72% of 508) said they were getting little to no support from Indiana’s workforce development system: Some 36% reported knowing about WorkOne but never having had any contact; 25% accessed the system but were not finding the services helpful; and 11% had no knowledge of these services. Only 19% of employers reported success in hiring applicants using WorkOne recruiters or the Indiana Career Connect job matching system.

“Given the continuing needs of employers and the persistent number of unemployed adults, these responses point to the critical importance of the Governor’s focus on these issues and, specifically, the development of a strategic plan through the Indiana Career Council and local employer engagement through the Works Councils,” Redelman concludes.

According to Brinegar, the results of this employer survey will also guide how the Indiana Chamber concentrates its efforts to achieve several goals under the organization’s long-term economic development plan, Indiana Vision 2025.

Among those goals: increase to 60% the proportion of Indiana residents with high quality postsecondary credentials, especially in the STEM-related fields (of science, technology, math and engineering); see a notable increase in Hoosiers having bachelor’s degrees or higher; and develop, implement and fully fund a comprehensive plan for addressing the skills shortages of adult and incumbent workers who lack minimum basic skills.

View the survey results and executive summary at www.indianachamber.com/education.

Indiana School Counseling Not Meeting Postsecondary Needs of Students

A new report commissioned by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce Foundation finds that school counselors are not able to meet the range of postsecondary needs of students, due in large part to a stagnant system and a variety of situations often out of their control.

“What we have is a counseling issue, not an issue with the counselors,” explains Indiana Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kevin Brinegar. “In fact, the vast majority of counselors in the survey said they would like to spend more time providing college and career guidance.”

The Indiana School Counseling Research Review was conducted for the Indiana Chamber Foundation to assess the current state of school counseling and to see whether the landscape had changed much the last two decades. A 1994 statewide study titled High Hopes Long Odds had identified disparities in the way counselors provided college and career readiness to students.

“Unfortunately, little has progressed in 20 years,” Brinegar offers. “This is such a vital tool for middle and high school students, but far too little time is being spent with students on college and career readiness despite the obvious need.”

What prompted the Indiana Chamber to seek the research is the organization’s Indiana Vision 2025 economic development plan (www.indianachamber.com/2025), which features a focus on Outstanding Talent. Brinegar emphasizes, “One goal in the plan is to increase to 90% the proportion of Hoosier students who graduate from high school ready for college and/or career training; therefore improving the counseling aspect is critical.”

A total of 426 Indiana school counselors – 73% of them from high schools – were surveyed for the Indiana School Counseling Research Review.

According to the survey, 58% of respondents said that a quarter or less of their time is spent on college and career readiness activities; that number jumps to 90% of counselors when the timeframe for college/career readiness duties is placed at 50% or less. Fewer than 10% of counselors said they spent more than half their time in this key role.

The time disparity has noticeably increased in recent years. Derek Redelman, Indiana Chamber vice president of education and workforce development, notes that has much to do with “the real lack of clarity about school counselors’ roles and responsibilities that exists in many schools, with ‘tending duties’ pulling counselors in too many directions.”

Case in point: The Indiana Chamber report shows that just since 2010 the amount of time counselors are asked to devote to these non-counseling duties has more than doubled. In 2010, 18% of a counselor’s time was spent away from direct service to students; in 2013 it was 40%. (That translates to time spent on college and career guidance declining from 32% to the current 21%.)

“These other activities might include being the hall monitor, administering tests or even managing the school mascot,” Redelman states. “The bottom line is that a school counselor’s job duties include a growing catch-all list of non-related activities that takes them from their primary function. And that needs to be addressed. … Being unable to more frequently do their essential job is the number one thing we heard about from counselors.”

Another factor at play, the report concludes, is that counselor education programs are not providing sufficient preparation in college and career counseling.

“This means counselors don’t have all the information. This and the time factor speak to the larger issue of getting the needed information to students,” Redelman begins. “The report suggests a delivery model that would expand what professionals within a building share postsecondary information with students. We’re advocating for a more team approach to help bridge the gap.”

Other key observations in the Indiana School Counseling Research Review:

  • The accusation of too much focus on four-year degree options instead of all postsecondary options is confirmed
  • The accountability system is a driver of the problem but can also be part of the solution
  • Overall challenges are too extensive to address through counselors alone. There is a clear need to engage teachers, school administrators and parents

“As policymakers, we are increasingly focused on the need for students to be college and career ready,” says Teresa Lubbers, Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education. “The problem is that too many students and families still don’t know what that means. This report highlights the need to redesign the counseling model, freeing counselors to focus more on readiness responsibilities rather than administrative tasks.”

The Indiana Chamber took the additional step of forming an advisory group to provide feedback on what efforts – programs and policies – could make the strongest impact. The advisory group included school counselors, principals, superintendents, community college partners, youth-serving organizations and government agencies.

“This group of advisors was asked to consider a range of initiatives that would have the most positive effect on student achievement, postsecondary attainment and career readiness through counseling services,” Redelman offers.

The end result was this set of Indiana Chamber goals and initiatives:

  • Continue to raise awareness. Consider developing a marketing campaign to expand the postsecondary opportunities made available for consideration by students.
  • Recognize successful programs and initiatives. Accomplished by exploring metrics and potential partners to recognize schools and/or counseling programs that have demonstrated success. Then use recognition to highlight a broad range of postsecondary success opportunities for students.
  • Communicate employer needs. Explore opportunities for organized employer tours for students and educators to foster deeper understanding of career opportunities. Also collaborate with partners to improve access to web-based information, including IndianaSkills.com.
  • Assist with data accessibility. Champion the continued development of the public user interface for Indiana’s longitudinal data system, which will make it possible for policy leaders to identify the greatest training and educational needs, and to evaluate progress in meeting those needs.
  • Create the right accountability incentives. Continue to work on school accountability task force.

Adds advisory group member Karin Ulerick, a counselor at Logansport High School: “Many of the topics we reviewed are ways to help counselors and students succeed. I appreciate the Indiana Chamber’s efforts surrounding how to support the work we (counselors) do each day and look forward to them getting the ball rolling on actual implementation of the initiatives.”

The Indiana School Counseling Research Review, which also includes comments from 11 personal interviews with key counseling leaders in the state, was produced by Matt Fleck of Fleck Education and the Partnership for College and Career Readiness.

View the executive summary and full report at www.indianachamber.com/education.

Indiana Primary 2014: Intra-Party Turmoil and Bassler’s Big Win Over Longtime State Senator

Indiana Business for Responsive Government (IBRG), the non-partisan political action program of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, fought through one of the most challenging primary election cycles in its history with 12 of 14 IBRG-endorsed candidates winning their respective primary elections (including Eric Bassler’s big victory over 20-year incumbent State Sen. John Waterman).

Today, Hoosier voters believe their state government is on the “right track” by margins probably not seen in a generation of polling in the state, while holding nearly mirror opposite views of the federal government. Hoosiers have confidence in where our growing economy is headed and strongly support a variety of reforms that are helping Indiana lead the nation in economic growth.

However, large blocks of Hoosiers also detest the federal government, distrust both political parties, and want someone or something to lash out at. With Republicans in charge of both houses of the General Assembly by strong quorum-proof majorities, if you’re looking for some political payback in Indiana, the Republicans are the ones calling the shots.

In the 2014 primary elections, no Democrat incumbent legislator faced a primary election challenger. There were only two Democratic primaries in the state for “open” (i.e. no incumbent running) legislative seats, both in Lake County. The 2014 primary elections were about the Republicans. It’s important to note that the 2012 primary elections were the first held after redistricting. Twenty-two districts in 2012 did not have an incumbent running, compared to only eight this primary election. If you look at the House, the difference is even more stark –  20 open seats in 2012 and only three in 2014. So, the 2014 primaries had a lot more to do with incumbents.

In 2012, the labor unions were still hopping-mad over right-to-work and running a number of candidates against GOP incumbents and open seat races. They all failed. While the ISTA teachers union and “Lunch Pail Republicans” were back this year, a new and formidable primary challenge came from social and religious conservative candidates and interest groups, working in concert with some Tea Party networks. Their targets — select Republican primary elections.

Highly-motivated by hot-button social and religious issues such as the gay marriage amendment HJR-3, several otherwise conservative Republican legislators found themselves facing tough challenges from the right. In low-turnout elections, highly-energized subgroups of voters – those angry and motivated to vote against someone – can and do turnout to vote and win races.

It’s impossible to have much of a discussion of 2014 Indiana state politics without considering the impact of the hyper-divisive fight over the gay marriage amendment HJR-3. Setting aside the policy debate, clearly it has motivated, energized and radicalized large segments of the population on both sides of the issue. For many, it is a hyper-issue that overrules all others.

In this year’s primary elections, three Republican state representatives who voted against the gay marriage amendment found themselves challenged by significantly more socially conservative primary election challengers. Two of these three were defeated on May 6 and the third won with less than 50% as his two primary election challengers split 50.5% of the protest vote.

However, where issues other than religious and social ones took front and center, the results were very different. Where issues such as jobs, tax cuts, economic growth, right-to-work, education reform, free enterprise, regulatory relief and other economic and reform issues were the focus, incumbents (and non-incumbents) performed very well. In fact, they all won when IBRG was involved!

IBRG success included the highly‐targeted race that defeated a 20‐year Senate Republican incumbent (John Waterman in Senate District 39) strongly backed by the ISTA teachers union, other labor unions and trial lawyers. It included defending key legislators with strong pro‐jobs, pro‐economy records. This report will be updated as additional election results become available and published at
www.ibrg.biz.

IBRG Endorsed Candidates

Incumbents
House 22 Rebecca Kubacki – Loss
House 25 Don Lehe – Win
House 32 P. Eric Turner – Win
House 39 Jerry Torr – Win
House 59 Milo Smith – Win
House 83 Kathy Heuer – Loss
House 84 Bob Morris – Win
House 85 Casey Cox – Win
House 91 Robert Behning – Win
Senate 31 James Merritt, Jr. – Win

Challengers and Others
Senate 39 Eric Bassler – Win
Senate 47 Erin Houchin – Win

Open Seats
House 63 Mike Braun – Win
Senate 43 Chip Perfect – Win

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

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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.