Promising Future: Initiative Seeks Change in Education Culture

bizvoicepicAs an assistant principal with Wabash City Schools, Jason Callahan recalls sitting and watching parents “who were signing their 16-year-old kids out from school – and how empty that feels. You feel like you just lost this kid for life, and they’re only 16.”

In reality, those students were “lost” years before their official withdrawal from school. Lost because there was no recognition of the power of education or perceived hope for a bright future.

Today, in Wabash County and three other northeastern Indiana locales (and maybe someday throughout the state and beyond) communities are making a “promise” to prevent that from happening.

Why is that promise so important?

“It really is an opportunity for us to tell kids in our community that we care about them, that we care about their education,” says Casey Weimer, CEO of the Cole Family YMCA – the convening agency for the Promise program in Noble and LaGrange counties. “That we don’t want the circumstances that kids have in their lives or where they come from to determine their futures. Dream as big as they want to dream.”

Adds Jill Ostrem, senior vice president of health and well-being at Parkview Health (a financial supporter of the Promise initiative in its four current counties, including Whitley): “It’s been amazing – to make sure kids know anything is possible. Every child’s future should only be determined by their potential.”

Read the rest of the story in BizVoice.

VIDEO: Mitch Daniels Discusses Cutting Government with Reason Magazine

Matt Welch of Reason magazine, a libertarian publication, sat down with former Indiana governor Mitch Daniels to discuss his thoughts on making government more efficient, as well as social issues, the debt and being president of Purdue University.

INTERNnet Partnership with enFocus in Northern Indiana to Battle Brain Drain

enfcouseThis column originally appeared in the Inside INdiana Business BigWigs & New Gigs newsletter.

Indiana INTERNnet (IIN) is forging partnerships with regional groups that share equal tenacity for increasing talent retention in the state. Our newest partner, enFocus, is already making a difference in South Bend.

enFocus is a “talent incubator and social innovation engine” whose approach is to cultivate what’s in its own backyard.

Its fellowship program encourages recent graduates from the area to stay and help develop St. Joseph County by giving them the resources to solve real community problems. In addition, a partnership with the St. Joseph County Chamber of Commerce is creating more internships in the area than ever before.

IIN has teamed up with enFocus to pilot a strategic feedback mechanism for experiential learning program development, expansion and improvement in St. Joseph County, with the goal of expanding it statewide. The comprehensive survey will measure internship success and the impact on talent retention.

Kathleen Ryan, a first-year fellow at enFocus and project lead on the survey pilot, credits an internship as the key to discovering what she truly wanted out of her career.

“It is because of an internship with a community health outreach organization during my senior year of college that I pursued an enFocus internship,” she explains . “At that time, I fully intended to continue on to medical school post-graduation. Through this experiential learning experience, however, I found that I was more drawn to community development.”

This type of career exploration is the cornerstone of enFocus’ mission in St. Joseph County and IIN’s mission statewide. enFocus works to curb the area’s brain drain with a two-pronged system: consulting with local organizations and offering time and resources to its fellows, who work to find solutions for regional industries. Following the program, enFocus works to place fellows in jobs in the area.

Since its inception in 2012, enFocus and its fellows facilitated regional projects like SB150, South Bend’s 150th birthday celebration, and the Regional Cities Initiative.

enFocus also partners with the St. Joseph County Chamber and its internship program, InternSJC.

“Through InternSJC we offer consultative services to local companies, working with them to make internships more valuable, efficient and exciting for company staff and students seeking employment in the area post-graduation,” Ryan describes. “Also through InternSJC, we help facilitate a summer community engagement program for interns in the area, seeking to improve the student experience and perception of our region’s opportunities through social programming, networking events and community service opportunities.”

All of the organization’s facets come together for a common goal: to make St. Joseph County a better place to work and live.

“We expose students and graduates to real-life issues felt by our regional partners and challenge them to alleviate those pain points,” Ryan emphasizes. “This enables them to develop professionally and gain experience while providing invaluable service to the community.

“We realize that Michiana is not the only region in Indiana that could rally around talent and youthful leadership to grow. We want to expand our model across the state to make Indiana an even more preferable place to start a career, business or family.”

IIN and local economic and community development groups are making strides in other regions as well.

For nearly 10 years, IIN has worked with the Northeast Indiana Graduate Retention Program (GRP, now a part of Greater Fort Wayne Inc.). The Greater Fort Wayne Inc. Fellows Program is a 12-month experience that connects high potential college students with Greater Fort Wayne Inc. investors who have a regular need for new talent. The program utilizes dedicated summer internship experiences as admission into the fellowship.

In Northwest Indiana, colleges and universities are joining forces to promote their students under the umbrella of Ready Northwest Indiana, an economic development and education initiative. Ancilla College, Calumet College, Valparaiso University, St. Joseph’s College and the Center of Workforce Innovations, Inc. are teaming with IIN to meet the needs of employers through a common platform to access students prepared for internships.

We look forward to the difference these efforts will make in St. Joseph County and statewide.

To register for our free service, visit www.IndianaINTERN.net, or call (317) 264-6862 to speak with our staff about your internship program.

Janet Boston is executive director of Indiana INTERNnet — an affiliate program of the Indiana Chamber.

Work Ethic Signal: Schools, Business Create PRIDE Indicator

Question

The skills gap, the difference between what employers need from an employee and the abilities the workers have to offer, is multi-faceted. Not only is there often a lack of abilities in hard skills (computer programming, mathematics and more), but also soft skills such as communication, working in teams and strong personal character.

Of the more than 530 Indiana companies responding to the 2014 Indiana Chamber Employer Survey, over 54% stated that a lack of work ethic is the most pressing issue in their hiring process, followed by communication and attendance.

“Employers are teaming with schools to better relate academic concepts to workforce needs,” says Amy Marsh, former Indiana Chamber director of college and career readiness initiatives. “Businesses are looking for employees that are ready to work on day one.”

According to the survey, more than 39% of businesses had vacancies related to underqualified applicants. To make matters more difficult for employers, more than half of businesses indicated plans to expand their workforce in the next year.

“This is not a sustainable model for moving Indiana forward,” Marsh states. “Ultimately, we want workers across the employment spectrum to be able to have a long, sustainable career that contributes to the strength of the Indiana labor force.”

Read my full story in BizVoice.

Little Steps Can Lead to Big Energy Savings

Business direction background with two people

This column was also posted on Inside INdiana Business.

Indiana possesses a number of advantages in its business climate. One of those traditional benefits has been energy that is adequate, reliable and affordable.

The inexpensive part of that equation has come into question lately. Industrial energy rates that were once among the five lowest in the country are now around the middle of the pack. Federal regulations – ones that often impact Indiana to a greater degree due to its dependence on coal – lead the way as a major cause for the increase.

All companies, not just heavy energy users, can more closely evaluate their usage and likely lower their costs. That subject is the theme of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce’s 2015 Connect and Collaborate series – luncheons around the state this summer for Chamber members.

Here is some of the information being shared in the form of 10 energy-saving tips:

  1. Know your costs: Just as we hopefully do or should be doing at home, examine your electric power bill. You have to realize the source of your largest energy costs to be able to potentially have the opportunity to reduce those charges.
  2. Evaluate your contract: Is your current agreement the best deal you can get? You don’t know what’s possible until you ask.
  3. Lighting can be a hidden cost: Are you aware of what type of lights you use? Are they the most efficient? Are unnecessary lights turned off when not needed? Have you considered motion sensors?
  4. Air recycling: Heat rises, making it important to properly recycle your air. Have a professional examine your system. Efficient ceiling fans (or exhaust fans in warmer weather) could make a major difference.
  5. Avoiding the pressure: Steam and air pressure are common ingredients in many industries. Leaking joints, pipes and systems can be a huge energy drain.
  6. Water equals power: If you use water from a municipal treatment plant (or even your own facility), nearly 20% of that cost is energy. Examine your system to eliminate water leaks. You are paying for your water, as well as the energy it takes to process and move the water.
  7. Check the pumps: Workplace pumps are huge energy users. Assess your pumps – are they needed? Could they be changed out for a more efficient model? Would a variable speed pump make more sense?
  8. Transportation troubles: Another personal priority needs to be carried over to the workplace. Car/truck care in the form of proper tire pressure, tune-ups and other maintenance is essential. Companies with multiple vehicles are often well served by having someone responsible for the fleet.
  9. Proper planning: In addition to the modes of transportation, logistics are critical. Efficiently planning trips and scheduling deliveries will help conserve power and enhance productivity. This applies to organizations of all sizes.
  10. Compressing the fuel: Compressed natural gas continues to gain favor among many companies with heavy delivery schedules. An upfront capital outlay is often rewarded with a very timely return on that investment.

Chamber President Kevin Brinegar, I and a local business leader look forward to sharing this information and talking energy with members at each stop on our Connect and Collaborate tour. Your business could be the beneficiary.

Indiana Named Best State in the Midwest for Business

?????????????????????????????????????????A new Chief Executive magazine survey labels Indiana as the best state for business in the Midwest — and the sixth best in the U.S. A release from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) has more:

The magazine’s “Best & Worst States For Business” ranking is based on surveys of more than 500 CEOs. According to Chief Executive, the results of the 11th annual survey show that CEOs favor states with progressive business development programs, low taxes and a quality living environment.

“We’ve worked hard to create a low-cost, pro-growth economic environment here in Indiana,” said Governor Mike Pence. “This ranking confirms what we already know as Hoosiers. With an honestly balanced budget, robust infrastructure and a top-notch workforce, Indiana is a state that works for business.”

As highlighted by Chief Executive, Indiana became the first Midwestern right-to-work state in 2012, a law that was upheld by the Indiana Supreme Court last year. Since its passing, more than 100 companies have indicated to the IEDC that its passage was a factor in their decisions to locate or expand operations in Indiana. Collectively, these projects account for approximately 10,000 projected new jobs and more than $2.3 billion capital investment in the state.

Indiana’s 6th place ranking makes it the only Midwestern state in the publication’s top 10. Among neighboring states, Kentucky ranked 28th, Ohio ranked 22nd, Michigan ranked 43rd and Illinois ranked 49th.

This Chief Executive magazine ranking is the latest in a series of national accolades for Indiana’s business climate. Last year, Indiana was ranked best in the Midwest and 7th overall in Area Development magazine’s “Top States for Doing Business” as well as best in the Midwest and 7th in the nation in the Pollina Corporate “Top 10 Pro-Business States for 2014” study.

Chief Executive magazine is a bi-monthly publication for top management executives published by the Chief Executive Group LLC. Founded in 1977, the Chief Executive Group LLC is headquartered in Greenwich, Connecticut. The full survey results are available online.

2015 Best Places to Work Rankings Announced

KRH26117Hoosier companies from throughout the state with stellar workplace practices were recognized Thursday at the JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis. Before a crowd of 1,200, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce unveiled rankings for the 100 companies that made the 2015 Best Places to Work in Indiana list (released in February).

Winners were selected in four categories. Taking top honors:

  • Small companies’ category (between 15 and 74 U.S. employees): E-gineering, a technology consulting firm on the northeast side of Indianapolis
  • Medium companies’ category (between 75 and 249 U.S. employees): Project Lead The Way, Inc., a non-profit education organization headquartered in Indianapolis
  • Large companies’ category (between 250 and 999 U.S. employees): Sikich LLP of Indianapolis, an accounting, advisory, technology and managed services group
  • Major companies’ category (1,000 or more U.S. employees): Edward Jones, an investment firm with 457 branch offices throughout the state

For Sikich this marks the third straight year to finish number one. It’s also a return to the top spot for both Edwards Jones (last time was 2008) and E-gineering (2011).

“These four outstanding companies embody what strong workplaces should look like – they are rooted in respect, teamwork and good communication, and, where possible, promote professional growth,” states Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar.

“All the organizations honored tonight are exemplary employers that foster a positive and productive work environment. They understand that truly valuing employees goes hand-in-hand with the success of the business.”

At the dinner, presented in partnership with Hylant, representatives from all designated companies received Best Places to Work awards of excellence.

Organizations on the 2015 list that have displayed sustained excellence during the program’s 10-year history received additional recognition with Best Places to Work in Indiana Hall of Fame and Pinnacle designations.

Hall of Fame organizations are those that have been named a Best Place to Work in Indiana at least two-thirds of the time in the program’s history; a total of 15 companies on the 2015 list meet that criteria. Two organizations – Edward Jones and Katz, Sapper & Miller – have made the Best Places to Work list every year.

The Pinnacle recognition is reserved for those that have finished first in their category three or more times in a five-year period. The four Pinnacle companies are Microsoft (first in the major employer category in 2013-2014 and in the large category in 2011-2012), Edward Jones (tops in the large employer category from 2006-2008), Sikich LLP (first in the large employer category from 2013-2015) and Hollingsworth & Zivitz (atop the small employer category from 2012-2014).

More information about the Best Places to Work companies is available via a special section of the May/June issue of the Indiana Chamber’s BizVoice® magazine, a statewide publication released tonight and accessible online at www.bizvoicemagazine.com.

Other program partners are Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick, the Best Companies Group, Indiana Economic Development Corporation, Indiana State Council of SHRM and the Wellness Council of Indiana.

In addition to Hylant’s presenting sponsorship, Elements Financial is the event’s reception sponsor. Best Places to Work in Indiana is also sponsored by: Moser Consulting, Inc.; Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari; ADVISA; Centier Bank; Comcast; Conner Insurance; DTZ; Eaton Corporation; Goelzer Investment Management; Smithville Communications, Inc.; and Trilogy Health Services, LLC.

The Best Places organizations were determined through employer reports and comprehensive employee surveys. The Best Companies Group, which handled the selection process, oversees similar programs in 26 other states.

All companies that participated in the 2015 Best Places to Work program receive an in-depth evaluation identifying strengths and weaknesses according to their employees. In turn, this report can be used in developing or enhancing employee retention and recruitment programs.

For more information on the Indiana Chamber’s Best Places to Work program, go to www.bestplacestoworkIN.com.

Northern Indiana Company Enlists Hoosier Painter to Illustrate Its History

Justin Vining, a popular professional artist in Indianapolis (originally from Etna Green), created a remarkable mural depicting the history of Urschel Laboratories at the company’s new global headquarters in Chesterton. This time lapse video shows the painstaking process that goes into working on such a comprehensive piece of art.

Vining relocated to the area for three months in order to complete the mural.

Chamber Offers Triple Crown of Compliance Books

HThe Kentucky Derby is fast approaching, and it will likely be another great event — especially for all those in the Kentuckiana area who love a good time. But if you’re tired of the horse race of trying to keep up with regulations and the myriad issues employers and human resources departments must keep tabs on, you’re not alone.

The Indiana Chamber is offering three new books this spring that can help you pace the field.

Authored by attorneys at Ogletree Deakins, The Immigration Guide for Indiana Employers – Fifth Edition (formerly known as the Indiana Guide to Hiring and Managing Foreign Employees) is currently at the printer and headed toward the finish line. The book covers what employers need to know when hiring foreign workers. Some of the topics updated in this edition include:

  • temporary work visa sections: H-1B professionals and L-1 intracompany transfers;
  • Form I-9 completion and compliance;
  • information about President Obama’s pending executive order on immigration and what it means for employers;
  • Indiana-specific E-Verify requirements for certain employers; and
  • handling site visits from the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services Fraud Detection Unit.

Ogletree has also authored a brand new title: Indiana Guide to Retaliation Claims. This ePub (online publication) features over 40 pages of instruction and case information that will help your company prepare against retaliation and whistleblower claims. Making a small investment in this guide can help prevent your company from becoming the next cautionary tale. This book is scheduled to be released later this month, but you can place your order now.

Additionally, the Performance Appraisal Handbook – Second Edition can help you effectively conduct appraisals on a regular basis. Authored by attorneys from Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, this book is ideal for HR professionals and small business owners who don’t want to take unnecessary chances in evaluating their employees. This book is slated for May publication.

You can order these respective guides via their web pages or by calling (800) 824-6885.