Cheer Earth Day, Not EPA’s Latest Moves

87741351Something to celebrate for Earth Day: Indiana’s air quality has not been as good as it is today in over 60 years! I remember the first Earth Day 45 years ago and for a decade served on the Indiana Earth Day board. I’ve witnessed step by step Indiana’s group effort to make the air cleaner and cleaner.

Today, more than 90% of Hoosiers live in areas that meet ALL air quality standards. In 2005, that number was only 61%. To monitor all the air quality and progress, Indiana operates and maintains more air quality monitoring sites than any other state in the Midwest on a per-person basis. We’re on top of it.

Indiana does have a few remaining air issues in pockets of the state, but those are being addressed. Whether that’s the lead level in Muncie, the ozone standard in LaPorte County or the one-hour sulfur dioxide standard in parts of five counties – all are making progress and should be remedied in a reasonable timeframe.

Still business and industry in Indiana and across the nation continue to be whipped by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with regulations that are grossly unfair and frequently tightened on a whim. All the vast improvements go unnoticed and the goalposts keep moving further and further away. Ironically, as our ozone levels have declined, the incidence of childhood asthma has actually increased.

The impact of EPA’s pending controls is real and will cost every business and person that uses electricity. Yet there is no real environmental benefit that will be realized. Industry in the U.S. and Indiana has spent billions of dollars installing expensive pollution control equipment. The data clearly shows that our emissions have substantially decreased. In other words, we’ve pretty much squeezed everything out of the ozone orange.

Over the many years, Earth Day has helped bring attention to industry practices that needed scrutiny. That was a very good thing. But the EPA is taking its efforts too far. It’s time for all of us to take a deep breath and exhale. And you know what? We can do that outside today because the air is so much cleaner.

Hoosiers Invited to Submit Photos for Bicentennial Book

book coverThere are many exciting plans in place to celebrate our beloved state’s 200th birthday. Among them is an upcoming book from the Bicentennial Commission, Indiana at 200: A Celebration of the Hoosier State. You can even place your pre-order now, in fact. The publisher, M.T. Publishing Company in Evansville, says to expect the book to be ready around Statehood Day on Dec. 11 of this year.

The state has also issued a call for photos to include in the book. See more information from the release below (but do note the deadline is May 15).

Governor Mike Pence is inviting amateur and professional photographers across Indiana to submit their favorite images of the state for possible inclusion in a coffee table book commemorating Indiana’s 200 years of statehood. The deadline to submit photos is May 15, 2015.

“As Hoosiers, we all know Indiana is a special place,” Governor Pence said. “We see the unique qualities of her cities and towns, her farms and forests. Most of all, we see the distinctive virtues of her people. This effort presents a unique opportunity for Hoosiers to take part in our state’s storied history and share their favorite photos around our state.”

Photos must be taken in Indiana and should reflect one or more of these categories: natural environment and landscape; buildings and architecture; cities and towns; farms and fields; the Hoosier people; schools and libraries; transportation; business and commerce; medicine and health; religion and philanthropy; government; media and communication; arts, culture and entertainment; and sports.

Images must be uploaded in .jpg/.jpeg format with quality resolution (300 dpi).

Use of photos will not be compensated, but photographers will receive a photo credit in the book. Photos will be reviewed and selected based on content, quality and space availability.

For more guidelines and information – and to upload photos – go to: http://mtpublishing.com/index.php/default/indiana200photos.

“Indiana at 200: A Celebration of the Hoosier State” will contain approximately 240 pages and will be published by M.T. Publishing Company, Inc., which is under contract with the Indiana Bicentennial Commission. In addition to photos, each of the book’s 14 chapters contains essays and vignettes from Hoosiers around the state.

“This commemorative book is a signature project for the Bicentennial Commission and a legacy for the State of Indiana,” said Perry Hammock, the commission’s executive director. “Four of our commission members—James Madison, Judge Sarah Evans Barker, Tony George and Mickey Maurer—have worked diligently to bring this project into being. We are proud to work with Indiana authors and an Indiana publisher.”

Indiana’s Economic Outlook Places High on “Rich States, Poor States” Ranking

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) just released its 2015 “Rich States, Poor States Rankings,” which positions Indiana as having the third best economic outlook in the nation.

You can view the full report online. The economic outlook criteria is explained: 

The Economic Outlook Ranking is a forecast based on a state’s current standing in 15 state policy variables. Each of these factors is influenced directly by state lawmakers through the legislative process. Generally speaking, states that spend less—especially on income transfer programs, and states that tax less—particularly on productive activities such as working or investing—experience higher growth rates than states that tax and spend more.

 

alec

Toyota Celebrates 500,000 Forklifts Built in America

Toyota’s forklift manufacturing company, Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing, has been headquartered in Columbus since 1990. After Toyota’s forklift sales and distribution company relocated to Indiana (from Irvine, California) last summer, all of the company’s North American forklift operations are under one roof — and have now produced over 500,000 forklifts.

Congrats to Toyota on this milestone!

Brotherhood Mutual Lives Up to Name by Helping Staffers’ Children

????????????????????????????????????????????For the upcoming May/June edition of BizVoice, I’ve written several stories about companies making the Best Places to Work in Indiana list.

In speaking with Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company in Fort Wayne — a company that has made the list many times, I learned an important tidbit about how the organization helps the families of its staffers. By employing every college age kid whose parent works for the company for a period of time (40 hours per week for six to 12 weeks, starting at a salary of $10 per hour), Brotherhood Mutual helps these students gain quite an advantage.

“They may start doing data entry or working on the grounds, but as they continue through their college careers and pick their majors, we try to place them (in a related job),” explains Mark Robison, chairman and president. “So if they’re a graphic artist, they’ll be in our communications department — and accounting majors will be in our finance department. Or for upper classmen, if we don’t have a good fit for them, we’ll work with them and place them (and sponsor their work at an outside organization).”

He adds that his son was able to gain two internships in social work through the program, including one in Los Angeles.

“This year, we had 48 students apply – and we have 360 employees, so that many students coming in for the summer really changes the dynamic of the workplace,” Robison relays. “There’s more energy and it’s more exciting. The cool part is parents are taking care of each other’s kids, so the camaraderie is incredible.”

The company also supports employees’ adoption efforts, among many other family-focused benefits offered. This type of attitude is likely one of the reasons Brotherhood Mutual will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2017 — a remarkable milestone indeed.

Look for the article featuring Brotherhood Mutual and many others in the upcoming May/June edition of BizVoice.

Honda Manufacturing of Indiana Completes One Millionth Vehicle

Honda Celebrates 1 Millionth Group PhotoIn Greensburg on Wednesday, Honda Manufacturing of Indiana, LLC (HMIN) and its associates celebrated the one millionth car built at the plant.

This is quite an achievement for one of the auto industry’s premier companies — though definitely not its first major milestone in America. A release from Honda has more:

The completion of HMIN’s 1 millionth vehicle comes only six years after the start of mass production at the $800 million facility on October 9, 2008.

In addition to making the Civic, HMIN started manufacturing Acura ILX vehicles in 2012 before transferring the production to the Marysville Auto Plant in Ohio earlier this year. In total, 65,172 Acura ILX cars were built at HMIN during a three year period — helping us reach this production milestone.

“We have come a long way from where Honda Manufacturing of Indiana started in 2008 to where we are today,” said Bob Nelson, HMIN president. “Our associates have shown tremendous commitment and dedication to get us to this major milestone and we will continue to work to provide our customers with products of the highest quality. These values and beliefs are at the heart of what makes Honda great.”

Last week, at the New York International Auto Show, Honda announced the North American version of the 2016 Civic Sedan will be produced at the Indiana plant. Honda is preparing to launch its completely reimagined 10th-Generation Civic models beginning this fall.

HMIN became Honda’s fourth auto plant in the U.S. and its seventh in North America when it began production of Civic sedans in October 2008. With employment over 2,000 and capital investment exceeding $800 million, HMIN primarily manufactures automobiles for the United States, with some Civics produced for export to markets outside of North America. HMIN maintains one of the lowest environmental footprints of any automobile plant in Honda’s global production network.

Child Adult Resource Services: Maximizing Its Investment Through Compliance Resources

Teri King

Knowledge is power – and empowering. Just ask Teri King, HR manager at Child Adult Resource Services (CARS), a Chamber member since 1991 that has around 250 employees. CARS provides Head Start, group homes, employment and other services to people with a variety of needs. Headquartered in Rockville, it covers 40 Indiana counties.

“I count on the Chamber to keep me up-to-date and out of trouble,” she declares.

King shares how an email from the Chamber helped keep CARS in compliance with Indiana’s smoking ban law, which went into effect on July 1, 2012. As part of the law, businesses are required to post signage at public entrances indicating that smoking is prohibited within eight feet.

“I had missed that (component of the) law,” King recalls. “Had it not been for her (the Chamber’s Rhea Langdon, manager of business resource marketing and sales) email telling me there was new signage available, I would have been out of compliance.”

King also is a fan of the Chamber’s ePubs (“I’ve enjoyed the forms and links to different topics,” she remarks) and completed the Chamber’s human resources and safety compliance certificate programs by attending a variety of training events.

“Being a nonprofit, training dollars are very tight. Whenever I’ve submitted a training (request) to go to the Chamber, it’s always approved. Other trainings may not be,” she emphasizes.

“In HR, you get all kinds of sales calls. You get all kinds of flyers from companies that are trying to sell their stuff. I always tell them, ‘I’m getting it from the Chamber. I know I have the right stuff that way.’ ”

VIDEO: A Look at the Promise Indiana Initiative

Clint Kugler of the Wabash County YMCA discusses the Promise Indiana Initiative. The initiative is helping boost college savings accounts and cultivating a fresh approach to education in the state.

Read a feature on the program in the latest edition of BizVoice.

Vincennes University Partners to Help Bridge Skills Gap

vuBusiness is good at Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc. (SIA) in Lafayette. The plant is expanding, with production of the Impreza set to begin in late 2016.

But there’s a speed bump fast approaching that could cause SIA and similar companies across the state to tap the brakes, if not come to a devastating halt.

The “middle-skills gap” is troubling some of Indiana’s biggest industries: advanced manufacturing, distribution and logistics, and the skilled trades, to name a few. Middle-skills jobs are those that call for more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year degree – and there is a critical shortage of workers with these credentials.

Brad Rhorer, manager of associate development at SIA, says highly-technical positions that require a certification or two-year degree are the most difficult for the company to fill.

“The industrial maintenance positions are very in-depth in knowledge and experience, and a lot of people do not have (skills in) those crafts any longer,” he emphasizes. “And we’ve got an aging workforce, so retirements are looming at the same time we’re expanding. It’s the perfect storm.”

A potential solution, some say, is to better coordinate education curriculum and work-based learning with real-world employer needs.

Read the full story in BizVoice.