State Board of Education — New and Improved?

The revamped Indiana State Board of Education met on June 1 with very little fanfare or drama compared to previous board meetings. The new board follows the passage of SEA 1, authored by Sen. Travis Holdman (R-Markle), which required a change in
the composition as well as a reconstitution of the board.

While the Indiana Chamber was happy for a productive meeting in June, only time will tell if this cooperation will last long term with a majority of the board members being appointed by the Governor and with Superintendent Glenda Ritz’s recent announcement to run against Gov. Pence in 2016. They have very different philosophies when it comes to education policy.

As a reminder, the Indiana Chamber publicly supported the House version of the legislation that simply allowed the State Board to elect its own chair, HB 1609 authored by Rep. Jud McMillin (R-Brookville). We felt this was the most simple and straightforward way to fix the problems that had been occurring with the State Board over the past two years. However, the Senate version of the bill was the vehicle chosen to move through the legislative process so we worked diligently to make sure the bill was in the best shape possible.

The legislation, signed into law by Gov. Pence on May 7, included a 2017 implementation date for electing a new chair of the State Board, the creation of a vice chair of the board that shares agenda-setting responsibilities with the chair (which we expect to be elected during the July board meeting) and changed the makeup of the board itself. The Governor’s appointees decreased from 10 to eight, with two legislative appointees added – one by the Speaker of the House and one from the President Pro Tempore.

Gov. Pence reappointed the following three new members to the State Board:

  • Eddie Melton – a resident of Merrillville (First District), Melton works as manager of federal governmental relations and community relations at NIPSCO. He was also appointed by the Governor to serve on the Commission on the Social Status of Black Males and serves as the Midwest regional director on the American Association of Blacks in Energy.
  • Dr. Vince Bertram – a resident of Zionsville (Fifth District), Bertram serves as president and CEO of Project Lead The Way, the nation’s leading provider of K-12 STEM programs serving more than 6,500 elementary, middle and high schools across the country. Bertram is the former superintendent of the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation and was appointed by the U.S. State Department to be the STEM education expert for the United States Speaker and Specialist Program. Bertram also serves on the Indiana Chamber’s K-12 policy committee.
  • Lee Ann Kwiatkowski – a resident of Greenwood (Ninth District), Kwiatkowski currently serves as superintendent for school improvement at the Metropolitan School District of Warren Township in Indianapolis. She is also a former staffer at the Indiana Department of Education where she served in such roles as director of school turnaround, director of differentiated learning and director of the Title I
    program.

The reappointed members of the State Board include:

  • Dr. David Freitas – a resident of Granger (Second District) and has served in higher education for over 30 years including time spent as a university vice provost, dean of education at four universities and dean of the schools of business, fine arts and technology.
  • Cari Wicker – a resident of Uniondale (Third District) and a sixth-grade language arts and social studies teacher at Riverview Middle School in Huntington.
  • Sarah O’Brien – a resident of Avon (Fourth District) and a fourth-grade teacher at River Birch Elementary School.
  • Gordon Hendry – a resident of Indianapolis (Seventh District) who serves as first vice president of CBRE, Inc.
  • BJ Watts – a resident of Evansville (Eighth District) who teaches in the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation.

The Governor did not re-appoint Tony Walker, Troy Albert or Brad Oliver, while members Andrea Neal and Dan Elsener (the Indiana Chamber’s current chair of the K-12 policy committee) requested that they not be considered for reappointment.

Speaker of the House Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) appointed Dr. Byron Earnest to the board. Earnest was Indiana’s 2010 Teacher of the Year, is the current head of schools for Hoosier Academies and is the former principal for Manual High School in IPS. President Pro Tempore David Long (R-Fort Wayne) appointed Steve Yager of Fort Wayne, who is the former superintendent of Southwest and Northwest Allen County Schools.

A Look at Indiana State Budget Estimates

19145168The monthly revenue estimates referenced in connection with Indiana’s state budget and commonly used to evaluate how Indiana is doing can be confusing because they change periodically and result in different baselines. First, there are the estimates on which the budget is formed – those established by the revenue forecasters in mid-April each year that a two-year budget is put together by the Legislature. And then there are the most recent revised estimates – updated by the forecasters each December.

If you look closely enough at the reports from the budget agency each month, you can discern the differences. Appropriately, the budget agency compares the actual monthly collections to the most recent updated estimate. But if you go beyond their summary, commentary and main chart you can find out how the monthly revenues compare to the original numbers on which the budget was formed.

Since we are now into the last month of fiscal year 2015 and the last month of our current two-year budget that was written in April of 2013, it seems a good time to look at just how well those forecasters did. While the numbers fluctuate considerably from month to month, with 11 of 12 months actual collections known, they are off by less than 1% (just .8 of a percent.) They projected collections of $13,152,600,000 and actual year to date collections were $13,042,800,000. They were off by $109.8 million, or eight-tenths of a percent, statistically as good as anyone can reasonably expect. In fact, it is pretty extraordinary and the forecasters are to be commended for such accurate work. Good, reliable projections are important to the fiscal integrity of our state.

And our fiscal picture doesn’t look bad at all right now. The collections now stand at $211.3 million or 1.6% above the revised/updated projections (those made in April of this year.) But it is not the estimates that are the real indicator of how the state is doing. It is a comparison of actual year-to-date collections that show actual growth. Those same monthly reports also show how the current fiscal year-to-date collections compare to the actual collections through the same period of the prior fiscal year. With the fiscal year nearly complete, Indiana is 3.6% above the prior fiscal year collections. And most encouraging is the 4.4% year-to-date growth in sales tax (our biggest revenue stream) and the 6.9% growth in individual income tax (the next biggest).

Boiling all this down there are two points: (1) the state forecasters do a great job, and 2) the present fiscal picture of the state looks good.

Ag Strength – By the Numbers

agThere’s no doubting the continued strength of Indiana’s agricultural industry (see the state fact sheet). We’ve told the stories often in BizVoice magazine – and will do so in the upcoming July-August issue (with a look at the prominence of ag businesses in Kosciusko County).

But according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, Indiana did not rank in the top three exporters by state of various products. There are some interesting states and dollar figures included (selected examples):

  • Soybeans: Illinois ($3.1 billion), Iowa ($2.7 billion) and Minnesota ($1.8 billion)
  • Corn: The same three states as soybeans, with Iowa leading the way at $1.1 billion
  • Wheat: Kansas ($1.5 billion), North Dakota and Montana
  • Pork: Iowa ($2 billion), North Carolina and Minnesota
  • Beef: Nebraska ($946 million), Texas and Kansas
  • Dairy; California ($1.2 billion), Wisconsin and New York
  • Poultry: Georgia, North Carolina and Arkansas
  • Fresh fruit: California ($2.5 billion), Florida ($3.2 billion) and Washington

Purdue Charter School to Help Inner-City Students

purdue-black-and-goldPurdue University President Mitch Daniels has called the low number of Indianapolis Public School students who are prepared for success at Purdue “unacceptable.”

In an effort to combat this, Purdue is launching a polytechnic charter school in Indy to create a direct path for these students to ultimately graduate from the university. It’s a bold move, and if it succeeds, there would be an effort to take it statewide.

Inside INdiana Business has more information, and reveals the charter school is expected to be located in downtown Indianapolis and will be a collaboration among Purdue, the city of Indianapolis, its EmployIndy program and Indianapolis-based USA Funds.

“We applaud President Daniels and Purdue University for this opportunity for low-income and minority students to have the opportunity to have a strong foundation in the STEM areas,” explains Caryl Auslander, vice president of education and workforce development for the Indiana Chamber. “This will provide students with incredible opportunities to learn using curriculum produced by Purdue faculty and provides direct admittance to the university after graduation. We are pleased to see community and business partnerships in this endeavor and know that it will provide not only unique experiences for students but also create an even stronger workforce in the future.”

D.C. Fly-in is Your Chance to Speak Up

7324001Don’t sit on the sidelines when you could be influencing laws and regulations under discussion in Washington. Make an impact by attending the Indiana Chamber’s D.C. Fly-in on September 16-17!

The event offers business and community leaders an opportunity to speak with Indiana’s congressional delegation and key staff members during a roundtable discussion/dinner on September 16. The second day features a panel of national and state issue experts, followed by numerous group visits to congressional offices.

“It’s ideal to get in front of lawmakers in D.C. so they can go back to their offices and get to work on what you just talked to them about,” emphasizes Cameron Carter, Chamber vice president of economic development and federal relations.

By September, the 2016 presidential campaign will be in full swing with a number of members of Congress running for re-election. Dominant issues in Washington and beyond will include transportation, tax reform, repatriation of overseas funds, Obamacare and immigration.

Dennis Faulkenberg, president and CEO of transportation advising company APPIAN in Indianapolis, has participated in the Fly-in for as long as he can remember. He’s helped coordinate office visits on Capitol Hill the last several years.

“Since I’ve spent some time lobbying in Washington, I know the Hill and how to get from one place to the other,” Faulkenberg comments. “It’s really special to meet with members of the congressional delegation, and voice your concerns and opinions about business in Indiana.”

Cost is $149 per person and group discounts are available. Each attendee is responsible for securing travel arrangements. Discounted hotel rooms are available for Chamber Fly-in guests at The Liaison Capitol Hill.

The D.C. Fly-in is sponsored by Zimmer. The breakfast program is sponsored by Faegre Baker Daniels. Additional opportunities are available by contacting Jim Wagner at jwagner@indianachamber.com or at (317) 264-6876.

Report: American Manufacturing is Still Alive and Well

According to a report from Ball State’s Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) and Conexus Indiana, the American manufacturing industry is hardly in the downward spiral that some have projected — and they anticipate openings for new manufacturing jobs will range from 80,000 to 150,000 per year over the next 10 years.

“There are major misunderstandings among the public and the media about the manufacturing sector,” said Michael Hicks, director of CBER and the George and Frances Ball Distinguished Professor of Economics at Ball State. “The U.S. manufacturing base is not in decline, and we have recovered from the recession. Nor are jobs being outsourced because American manufacturing can’t compete internationally. Moreover, new jobs in manufacturing pay well above the average wage.”

The study notes that the Great Recession had lost its stranglehold by 2014, when U.S. manufacturers attained record levels of production.

“Changes in productivity, domestic demand and foreign trade all impact manufacturing employment in the U.S.,” Hicks said, “and it’s important to clarify those impacts in order to understand what is happening in the manufacturing and logistics industries.”

The study also found that:
• More than 87 percent of manufacturing job losses are due to productivity gains, including better supply chains, more capital investment and advanced technology.
• Only 4 percent of manufacturing jobs have been lost to international trade (also known as outsourcing) since 2000.
• Since the end of the Great Recession in 2009, the economy has added 750,000 manufacturing jobs.
• The biggest job losses occurred in low productivity sectors with low transportation costs.

The report points out baby boom generation retirees are leaving behind good, well-paying jobs in those sectors, and younger workers are filling those jobs at an unprecedented rate. Recent new hire salaries averaged $20.06 per hour — almost $42,000 a year. As millennials move into the workforce, wage gaps between new and existing jobs are primarily age- and tenure-related, he said.

The report, “The Myth and the Reality of Manufacturing in America,” and the individual state report cards may be found online.

Hendricks Power Cooperative: Maximizing Its Chamber Investment Through Compliance Resources

Lenardson_DebLearning the ropes when starting a new job is always challenging. Imagine your position changing soon thereafter to encompass the vast world of human resources.

Nearly a decade after launching her career at Hendricks Power Cooperative (located in Avon, it provides electricity and energy services to 30,000-plus members in west central Indiana), HR director Deb Lenardson credits the Indiana Chamber with helping to ease the transition.

She points to regulatory compliance publications, which cover worker’s compensation, the Family Medical Leave Act and a variety of other employment law topics.

“I wasn’t hired into HR, but after about three months I was hired into (an HR) position, which is kind of why those books became so important,” Lenardson emphasizes. “I was new and learning. They’re great, reliable resources for us.

“When I’m looking for local information about Indiana, that’s where I go because so many of my other resources (offered elsewhere) are more generalized on a national level.”

The Chamber’s free poster subscription service also fuels Lenardson’s compliance efforts. When there is a significant change to any mandatory Indiana or federal employment postings, the Chamber automatically sends subscribers the revised poster set(s) with an invoice for the postings.

“I love that because I don’t have to worry about, ‘Am I going to keep my required posters up-to-date?’ ” she declares. “Anything I can have that helps me just keep things moving along without having to be reactive – I can be proactive with those things. I love that.”

Update on the Way for Indiana Government Book

HereIsYourIndianaGov15Here Is Your Indiana Government: 2015-16 Edition is the most comprehensive guide to governance in the Hoosier state.

Since its development in 1942, this book has been used by the community and hundreds of thousands of students (from sixth grade to college level) to learn about Indiana and how Hoosiers govern themselves. A variety of local government and agency updates will be included in the new edition.

Topics include:

  • Interesting facts about Indiana (demographics, state song, motto, origin of county names, notable natives, etc.)
  • Historical highlights of Indiana government development
  • State government (explanation of its departments/agencies and their functions, updated budget information, contact information including phone numbers and web addresses)
  • County government (origins of the counties, the elective county administrative officials and their function, council function, powers of the counties, services)
  • Cities and towns (creation, city classifications, incorporated towns, municipal government, public works)
  • Township government (divisions, schools, boards)

Large quantity discount pricing is available as follows:

  • 1 to 9 copies: $19.50 each
  • 10 to 25 copies: $12.50 each
  • 26 to 50 copies: $10.00 each
  • 51 to 75 copies: $8.50 each
  • 76 to 100 copies: $7.50 each
  • 101 or more: $7.00 each

To place your order, call (800) 824-6885, order online or email publications@indianachamber.com.

Employer Survey Results: Companies Anticipate Growth, Lack Workforce Needed

An annual Indiana Chamber of Commerce statewide workforce survey reinforces a common theme: Indiana companies are prepared to grow, but nearly three-quarters of the 526 respondents report that filling their workforce is challenging.

Economic prospects are bright. Fifty-eight percent of respondents expect the size of their workforce to increase in the next 12 to 24 months and another 38% anticipate stable employee counts. These mirror 2014 numbers (57% and 39%, respectively) and reinforce a shift from 2013 when just 36% foresaw growth and 59% looked at no changes in employee numbers.

As far as finding those employees, 74% note the challenge – with 24% reporting that “filling our workforce is our biggest challenge.” These results are a slight increase from 2014 findings of 72% indicating a challenge and 19% labeling it their biggest issue. Forty-three percent report they have left jobs unfilled in Indiana due to under-qualified candidates (a 4% increase over 2014).

“The continued positive outlook from Indiana employers is encouraging,” contends Indiana Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kevin Brinegar. “But despite various programs and local examples of strong education-business connections, it’s clear that much more work remains to provide workers with the skills they need for today’s and tomorrow’s jobs.”

The survey, in its eighth year, is provided to Indiana Chamber members and customers throughout the state. The largest respondent groups were organizations with between 50 and 249 employees (40%), 1-49 employees (36%) and manufacturing/advanced manufacturing industries (38%). The 2015 effort was sponsored by WGU Indiana.

“It’s important to hear the voice of Indiana employers – and for educators and workforce development professionals to partner with businesses to help meet their needs,” confirms Dr. Allison Barber, chancellor of WGU Indiana. “Addressing the skills gap and preparing both students and current members of the workforce for the next phase of their careers is an essential role for all involved in this profession.”

Additional key results from the 2015 survey:

  • Critical thinking skills and personal qualities (responsibility, work ethic, willingness to learn) were cited as the most challenging to find among job applicants and new hires at 56% and 55%, respectively.
  • While business-education partnerships have increased, a large gap remains. Of the respondents to a question asking about different types of engagement with local K-12 and postsecondary schools, 99 (28%) organizations indicate they are not involved currently but would like to be.
  • Despite an increasing state and national focus on experiential learning opportunities for students, more than 200 respondents said they do not have an internship program. Lack of time to hire and manage interns (36%) and the need for more information on starting an internship initiative (19%) were the top reasons given.
  • A full 80% (45% definitely and 35% probably) indicated they would value a work ethic certificate issued by high schools that would demonstrate a student’s commitment to attendance, discipline, teamwork and other “soft skills.”
  • More than three-quarters (77%) of those responding say they have no issues with job candidates expressing concerns about Indiana business locations or quality of life issues.

View the survey results at www.indianachamber.com/education.

The Indiana Chamber and its Foundation, focused on providing research and solutions to enhance Indiana’s economic future, have tools to assist employers, job-seekers and students.

IndianaSkills.com provides job supply and demand information both statewide and regionally. It utilizes current labor market data to help companies, prospective workers and students understand Indiana’s workforce landscape. Salary data, required skills and certifications, and creation of effective job descriptions are among the featured tools.

Indiana INTERNnet has been connecting students and employers for internship opportunities for nearly 15 years. The easy-to-use web site, informative Intern Today, Employee Tomorrow guide and regional partnerships will be supplemented by additional outreach programs.

“These resources are available for everyone throughout the state,” Brinegar says. “The importance of enhancing our workforce and allowing companies the opportunity to succeed at the highest levels cannot be overvalued. Outstanding Talent remains the key driver in the Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 economic development plan.”

The Indiana Vision 2025 Report Card update for 2015, measuring Indiana’s progress on metrics related to the 33 goals in the plan, will be released on June 18. Both the Report Card and workforce survey results, along with Outstanding Talent best practices, will be the focus of six regional forums. Five of those sessions take place between June 22 and June 30 with visits to Fort Wayne, Evansville, Indianapolis, Merrillville and Elkhart. The sixth forum will be in July in Sellersburg.

Q & A: Cultivating a Wellness Culture Shift

domination concepts with apples

Linda LeCour is the health and wellness manager – North America at Taghleef Industries in Rosedale. I interviewed her about the company’s continued push to enhance the wellness of its staff. (Look for the full story about companies encouraging wellness in the July/August edition of BizVoice.)

Indiana Chamber: What prompted Taghleef Industries’ increased focus on wellness and healthy workplace snacking?

Linda LeCour: We analyzed our claims data to identify the biggest health issues that are contributing to our costs. Around 2010 we really started to pay attention to the numbers and seeing what we could do to move the needle. Our health care costs were going up, our renewal rates were high. Rather than shifting the cost to the employees, there was more and more interest in how an employee’s lifestyle impacts the costs that we incur at work.

IC: What was the process like for making the change to healthier snacking and food sales?

LC: We don’t have any cafeterias in our plants, and we’re a 24/7 operation, our employees work 12-hour shifts. We are 20 minutes away from any restaurants. Up until last summer, we had traditional vending machines. The employees would often refer to them as “Wheels of Death,” because they recognized that the foods in there were not the healthiest choices, but they’re kind of a captive audience when you’re out in the middle of nowhere.

Fox Canteen is our vendor, and I was talking to them about how we could provide healthier choices for our employees. They had implemented a new system at a couple other locations in the Wabash Valley and thought it would be profitable enough for us to do that at Taghleef. It’s called Avenue C. Basically it’s a vending service where everything is out in the open. It’s like going into a convenience store where you can actually open the door, take out the product, and look at the nutrition label, if you want and decide whether or not you want to eat that and put it back if you don’t like it.

IC: What is key to making a change like this work?

LC: Our goal is to treat people like adults and let them make decisions, not necessarily just wipe out any product that’s not within the healthy standard. We’re saying, ‘Here’s your healthier choices, here’s some that aren’t so healthy if you want to incorporate that into your overall food choices for the day.’

IC: Are you starting to see a culture shift?

LC: One day an employee came to me tongue-in-cheek, pointing a finger saying, ‘It’s all your fault. You need to come see what everyone is bringing in for our birthday parties now.’ I went over there and there were fruits and vegetables and healthy foods that people were starting to bring in as a result of education and awareness and realizing people need to have healthy choices.