All About the Water

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The governors of the Great Lakes states recently approved a request by a Wisconsin city to draw water from Lake Michigan after its existing water supply dried up. But because the city isn’t in the watershed of the Great Lakes, the two Canadian provinces that share Great Lakes water rights say the request should be denied.

Waukesha, Wisconsin will be allowed to tap Lake Michigan for up to 8.2 million gallons per day once it completes a $207 million pipeline project that would draw in lake water and return fully-treated wastewater.

Delegates for the governors of Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York gave their unanimous consent to the first formal request to divert water outside the Great Lakes basin during a meeting of the compact council.

The 2008 compact prohibits water from being sent outside the basin watershed. Communities like Waukesha, located over the line but within a straddling county, can apply under a limited exception.

The eight governors approved the request over the objection of widespread opposition. Mayors, legislators, policy-makers and citizens around the Great Lakes have worried about the precedent Waukesha’s application represented.

Waukesha is under a court-ordered deadline to provide safe drinking water by mid-2018. The city draws most of its water from a deep aquifer that is contaminated with unsafe levels of radium, a naturally occurring carcinogen. The city has a population of about 70,000 people.

Kiplinger warns that more water conflicts will flare up, citing California, India, South Africa and the Middle East among the likely areas of dispute.

TECH THURSDAY: Mobile Man

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EDITOR’S NOTE: BizVoice® has featured technology/innovation stories throughout its 18-year history. Look for these flashbacks each Thursday. Here is a 2013 favorite. And it’s most appropriate considering yesterday’s news from Bluebridge in which the company announced a new platform, more funding and its plans to add more jobs. 

Santiago Jaramillo, now 23, initially landed in Indiana without any personal connections. Oh, how that has changed in a short period of time.

Having flourished on a full scholarship he’d earned at a prestigious private high school – American Heritage School in Plantation, Fla. – where Miami Heat basketball players often send their children, he could have attended almost any university he wanted.

Yet when he walked onto the campus of Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion following a visit to Chicago, he decided to commit to the school. “I walked in and said, ‘I don’t know why I should go here – but I think it’s right,’ ” Jaramillo recalls. “I didn’t know anybody in Indiana; I’d never been here before.”

That decision would ultimately open many doors for him after he graduated with a 4.0 GPA and valedictorian status at the university. But it certainly wasn’t the first time a fortuitous instinct paid dividends for him. He remembers a fateful day as a child in his native Cali, Colombia.

Read the full story online.

And learn more about the Indiana Chamber’s new Technology & Innovation Council. Want to participate? Contact Mark Lawrance at mlawrance(at)indianachamber.com.

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Training: Turn Up the Heat in August

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Summer will be in full swing with a multitude of training opportunities to enhance employees’ expertise and protect your bottom line this August.

First up is the 2016 Indiana Tax Conference, one of the state’s largest, on August 11. Learn the latest in tax case law and legislation as highly-experienced speakers identify ways to help you stay in compliance and reduce tax liability.

Francina Dlouhy, partner at Faegre Baker Daniels, will share her perspective on a crucial issue during her keynote luncheon presentation – It Was a Bad Idea Then and It Still Is Now! What Combined Filing Would Mean for Indiana. Among other themes are multistate tax hot topics for 2016, Affordable Care Act reporting compliance and an Indiana Department of Revenue update.

BKD, LLP is the presenting sponsor. Gold sponsors are MCM CPAs & Advisors and McGuire Sponsel. The silver sponsor is DMA – DuCharme, McMillen & Associates, Inc.

Fuel business savings the following week by attending the 14th Annual Indiana Conference on Energy Management on August 17-18. Learn how to cut costs and maximize resources as energy experts from throughout the state share practical – and effective – compliance strategies.

Don’t miss engaging keynote presentations:

  • Congresswoman Susan Brooks (invited) – opening general session: August 17
  • Canadian Consul General Doug George – Energy Security and Supplies: the Canada-U.S. Relationship – general session: August 18
  • Kyle Rogers, The American Gas Association, and The Edison Electric Institute representative (invited) – Outlook on Natural Gas and Electric – closing luncheon: August 18

Additional highlights include panel discussions, customized training (choose from a variety of options) and an expo showcasing the products and services offered by businesses in your field. Explore topics such as distributed generation; reducing utility bills; using the government and tax code for energy efficiency; and energy bankruptcies.

The 14th Annual Conference on Energy Management will take place at the Crowne Plaza Indianapolis-Downtown Union Station. Register online or call (800) 824-6885.

Gold sponsors: EDF Energy Services; Ice Miller LLP; MacAllister Power Systems; and Vectren. Silver sponsors: Cummins, Geronimo Energy, Indiana Electric Cooperatives, NIPSCO and Telamon Corporation.

Rounding out August offerings are:

Sponsorships are available by contacting Jim Wagner at (317) 264-6876.

Kelley School of Business Indianapolis Seeks Companies Looking for New Growth Opportunities

IUPUI KelleyThe IU Kelley School of Business Indianapolis is looking for central Indiana companies to partner with undergraduate-student teams for its renowned Integrative Core (I-Core) Program. A release from the school has more:

I-Core is a distinguishing component of Kelley’s bachelor’s degree program. Junior-level students take a set of four integrated classes—marketing, finance, supply chain management and team dynamics and leadership—during a single semester. Kelley students say I-Core is one of the most meaningful experiences of their Kelley careers—a rite of passage to understanding the business world and the value of teamwork.

A team of students will meet with company representatives to establish a project that works to benefit the company. Students conduct research, analyze findings and provide a recommendation at the end of the semester.

Students may consider new goods or services, providing a feasibility study of the new product and market. They will determine if return on investment justifies risk and capital investment.

Company representatives are asked to participate in an on-campus meeting to talk about the company’s current business and provide background information to help student analysis.

 Results: Testimonials from company reps and students

Last academic year, one student team worked with RICS Software in Indianapolis. VP of Products and Technology Chris Kozlowski says the I-Core group looked at additional revenue opportunities for the company.

“If you have the resources to spare, and you are looking for ways to think about your business differently, it’s a no-brainer,” Kozlowski said about his experience with the Kelley I-Core team.

“You have students who will think about the ways you do business, and the exercise—just going through the process—is worth it. It’s always nice to hear a different perspective. The fruit is in the ideation that they produce and present to you. It’s a different take on your business, which allows you to see things differently,” said Kozlowski. “The ideas were original and well-thought through. It’s a great exercise because it casts the lens inward a bit. It’s always good to hear new and different ideas.”

Kelley student and supply chain major Salman Al Muqaimi, BS’17, was one of the students who worked with RICS Software.

“Working with RICS Software was a great opportunity,” Al Muqaimi said. “Interacting and working with business professionals taught me that important skill everyone needs to be successful in business: communication. Taking I-Core gave me a better picture of what business is and how companies use the science of business to help them succeed.”

“I consider the I-Core project to be a preparation course for real life in business. I-Core is the gate, and walking through this gate gives you the chance to apply knowledge you’ve learned in the classroom to the real world,” he added.

Chris Gray is the Founder and CEO of Track Ahead, a career development app that facilitates firsthand and indirect engagement between college students and employers to match them based on mutual fit. He also worked with a Kelley I-Core team, who used Track Ahead data to build their own business model.

“When you’re talking to students about an idea, they’re asking questions. Those are often the same type of questions we thought about when the business was just getting started. It puts you back into that ‘day one mindset,’ thinking about the answers to the kinds of questions that hadn’t been thought about in a while,” said Gray. “In the startup world, you have to keep that sort of ‘day one thinking.’ You can’t lose sight of the thought process and the things you were thinking about in the first place. I think it was a good exercise.”

“I would recommend the I-Core experience to any company,” said Gray. “Being involved with Kelley Indy students helps all of us in the business community—to make sure we’re growing and cultivating the next generation. We have to find the time to reach out to them.”

Accounting and finance major Jalen McCoy, BS’18, says I-Core taught him to work efficiently with a team and the importance of being a leader.

“I enjoyed working with a company that genuinely cared about the ideas we came up with,” said McCoy. “The I-Core experience for a company could be an excellent recruiting tool, and students may come up with ideas that act as a catalyst for growth. I know personally that this I-Core experience was truly one of a kind, and I appreciated the participation of the company that I was involved with.”

How to get involved

Please request and fill out an application if you’d like your business to be involved.

Any for-profit organization can apply. The ideal company will have been in business for at least 10 years (minimum of 5 years) and will have shown an operating profit for at least three years (minimum one year). The company must be incorporated as an S corporation, C corporation or an LLC.

If you would like more information on this program, or to request an application, contact Teresa Bennett at tkbennet(at)iupui.edu or at 317 278-9173.

Indianapolis Int’l Airport to Hold Public Listening Sessions on Future Uses of Vacant Land

airportThe Indianapolis International Airport will be holding a series of public listening sessions about the future use of the vacant 130 acre tract of land which had previously been used as the old terminal parking lots (near the intersection of Sam Jones Expressway and Interstate 465).

At these sessions, the general public will have the opportunity to offer thoughts on the future of this important parcel of land. The comments from the general public will be taken into consideration by the airport as it prepares its new plan for the redevelopment of this critical area located on the east side of the airport.

Several public listening sessions have already been scheduled, which will occur at the following times and locations:

Wednesday, July 27, 2016 (5:30 – 7:30 p.m.)
Ben Davis High School
(Enter through Door #2)
1200 N. Girls School Road
Indianapolis, Indiana

Thursday, July 28, 2016 (5:30 – 7 p.m.)
Plainfield Recreation & Aquatic Center
651 Vestal Road
Plainfield, Indiana

Tuesday, August 9, 2016 (5:30 – 7 p.m.)
Mt. Olive Church
1449 W. High School
Indianapolis, Indiana

Wednesday, August 10, 2016 (5:30 – 7 p.m.)
Southeast Community Services Center
901 Shelby Street
Indianapolis, Indiana

Also read the recent BizVoice article on the progress of the airport’s land use initiative.

TECH THURSDAY: Mickey’s Mantra

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EDITOR’S NOTE: BizVoice® has featured technology/innovation stories throughout its 18-year history. Look for these flashbacks each Thursday. Here is a 2011 favorite.

Michael S. “Mickey” Maurer says a common piece of advice for entrepreneurs is “find something you do well, you like, and do that forever.”

But all entrepreneurs do not fit into a nice, neat, one-size-fits-all package. The definition of the term, after all, typically includes the words “initiative” and “risk.”

Maurer follows his initial comment with this self-description. “I just don’t seem to follow that good advice. I have a short attention span, a big curiosity and I like to do things I’ve never done before. What I try to do is find something I’ve never done, do that and learn all I can, and then move on and do something else I’ve never done. And that makes every deal fascinating … and it makes every deal fraught with risks if you’re doing everything for the first time.”

Maurer’s business career has included cable television, racquetball facilities, film production, radio broadcasting, newspaper publishing, banking and much more. He served in the early days of the Daniels administration, making deals for the state as leader of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.

In one 30-minute conversation, Maurer offers these recollections and pieces of advice.

Read the full story online.

And learn more about the Indiana Chamber’s new Technology & Innovation Council. Want to participate? Contact Mark Lawrance at mlawrance(at)indianachamber.com.

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ChamberCare Solutions Program Provides Health Care Answers

More than six years after the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, it’s still not an easy process for companies to determine the best health care choices. Important assistance and options are now available through the ChamberCare Solutions program.

The Indiana Chamber has partnered with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield since 2004 on ChamberCare – an insurance discount offering for businesses with between two and 99 employees. More than 25,000 employee lives (and 50,000 lives when spouses and dependents are included) were covered through ChamberCare.

Now, ChamberCare Solutions takes that partnership to an even higher level with a suite of solutions to help meet insurance needs.

“The Indiana Chamber-Anthem partnership has been an excellent one for our member companies, as well as their employees and families,” says Jennifer Elkin, Chamber senior vice president of marketing. “There have been more questions than answers since the Affordable Care Act was signed. We’ve been listening, discussing and searching for the right tools and products – and we’ve found them in this evolution to ChamberCare Solutions.”

The ChamberCare Solutions options include:

  • ChamberCare Savings: This is the previous ChamberCare discount program – now available for companies with between 51 and 99 employees. This was made possible by the late 2015 signing of the PACE Act (Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees), which returned the definition of a small business back to one with fewer than 100 employees.
  • ChamberCare Exchange: For companies with fewer than 50 employees and a potentially unhealthy, higher-risk population, the exchange might be the best alternative. Important guidance and navigation is available through Anthem.
  • ChamberCare Business Resources or a PEO (Professional Employer Organization): This is an attractive option (available July 1) for companies that, in addition to a competitive health care product, are looking to outsource some of their human resources functions. The multiple employers in the PEO allow the advantage of using a company’s experience rating compared to the generally more volatile community rating.

The Indiana Chamber and Anthem are teaming with Indianapolis-based Human Capital Concepts (HCC) on the PEO. Harlan Schafir, CEO of HCC, started the state’s first PEO in the early 1990s; he and his team have more than 125 years of experience in the industry.

“We are in the midst of an unprecedented talent war,” Schafir explains. “A PEO allows companies to attract and retain talent by improving employee benefit offerings and helps these organizations mold an attractive culture. Working with a PEO allows companies to focus on their core mission. The PEO takes care of compliance with ever-complex laws and regulations; company leaders focus on running their business.”

  • ChamberCare Shared Savings: This is a future offering under development by Anthem. It is expected to allow for self-funding for employers with as few as 25 employees. To date, such plans have only been available for organizations with at least 100 employees.

“The Indiana Chamber has advocated and educated on health care issues for many years. We’re pleased to add this in-depth navigation benefit,” Elkin adds. “Being able to offer these choices – with more to come – will save members money and allow to further invest in their people and businesses.”

Learn more or contact Nick Luchtefeld at (800) 824-6885.

Future Road Funding: Smooth or Bumpy?

36601064This summer, as we wander Indiana for work or pleasure, motorists experience both how good and bad Indiana’s road infrastructure is. The real issue is Indiana’s road funding mechanisms are in need of modernization to keep up with today’s demands.

To address the issue short and long term, several months ago the Legislature passed and the Governor signed two important bills on road funding, HB 1001 and SB 67. Combined, the bills did the following:

  • Provided a total of $689 million of additional funding over the next four years to Indiana’s local governments for their road funding needs.
  • Provided an additional $228 for state road funding in 2017. (Funding for this and the above came from a combination of using some of Indiana’s budget surplus, providing revenue from local option income tax collections and directing some of the sales taxes collected on fuel to road funding.)
  • Provided Indiana counties the option to double their wheel tax and for municipalities with a population over 10,000 to establish a wheel tax. If eligible local governments choose to do this, they can raise up to an additional $376 million a year.
  • Established the FIRSST (Funding Indiana’s Roads for a Stronger and Safer Tomorrow) Task Force to develop a long-term plan for state and local roads and bridges, and develop funding mechanisms for the various components of the plan.

The FIRSST Task Force has a lot of work to do before the end of this year. The goal is to present a plan that will set the stage for what might take place during the 2017 legislative session. Its 16 members will verify the costs of road maintenance needs, look at current revenue streams and determine what current and new ideas are viable for the future. This is important given that the primary funding mechanism, the 18-cent-per-gallon gas tax, is not keeping up with the cost to maintain state and local roads, let alone build new ones.

In a recent Chamber infrastructure policy committee meeting, Senators Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville) and Brandt Hershman (R-Buck Creek) indicated their commitment to achieving a solid and sustainable long-term solution during the 2017 session. Given the Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 goal area of “Superior Infrastructure”, we will play an active role in this discussion.

Tax Court Under Scrutiny

10044552In April 2015, the Indiana Supreme Court ordered the creation of the Ad Hoc Tax Court Advisory Task Force to review the Indiana Tax Court’s resources, caseload, performance and operations. In May of 2015, the General Assembly passed legislation calling for the Indiana Judicial Center to conduct a like review and submit a report to the Legislative Council by December 1, 2016. The Supreme Court subsequently amended its order to have the task force submit its report to the Judicial Center and the Legislative Council by May 1, 2016.

In April 2016, the task force issued its findings and recommendations along with a report compiled by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), which was contracted to assist the task force. These materials are now getting some attention and are definitely worthy of examination. The nine-member task force was chaired by Court of Appeals Judge James S. Kirsch. The members include a variety of experienced tax practitioners as well as the general counsel for the Department of Revenue and chief deputy for the Office of Attorney General. Tax Court Judge Martha B. Wentworth also participated as an “ex officio” liaison and attended meetings by invitation from the chair.

The NCSC researched the Court’s caseload, staffing and timeliness. It also interviewed stakeholders and conducted a survey seeking opinions on these subjects and on the perceived timeliness, fairness and demeanor of the Court. And it looked into case management, internal procedures and administrative practices. The statistical results, observations and recommendations are all set out in the report. The survey results evidence a contrast in opinions between the government responses and taxpayer responses regarding the quality of service provided by the Tax Court.

In short, it seems that the government representatives are significantly less satisfied with the Court. Not unrelated to their disgruntlement, it was noted in the preface to the findings that the Department of Revenue and attorney general members of the task force sought recommendations to review the very structure of the Court, recommending review of the de novo hearing process and the lack of automatic appeal rights. However, the majority of the group and the chair found these matters “outside the purview of the task force’s directive.”

Several things were apparently deliberated and no specific findings or recommendations were made. Ultimately, the task force’s primary finding was that after 30 years, the existence of the Tax Court still serves its initial purposes of providing tax expertise, tax law consistency and renders fair and thoughtful opinions.

The findings do focus on the need for continued progress in timely addressing pending cases and the utilization of resources and staff. The report recommends an ongoing review and suggests the Tax Court explore several reforms to its case management practices, including ruling on some matters without oral arguments, limiting discovery, requiring the Department of Revenue to certify a complete audit file (to avoid it having to be reconstructed) and referring some cases to mediation.

The findings and recommendations, NCSC report and other materials are available online.