Ivy Tech ‘Switchboard’ to Help Grow Businesses in Monroe County

The Switchboard is an online portal designed to connect entrepreneurs and business owners to the local resources they need to start or grow a business in Monroe County.

It was created through a partnership with The Gayle and Bill Cook Center for Entrepreneurship at Ivy Tech, Bloomington Economic Development Corporation, the City of Bloomington and through grants provided by the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County and Duke Energy.

Anyone interested in being a part of or contributing to Bloomington’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is encouraged to list yourself or your organization as a resource on The Switchboard to allow entrepreneurs to access your business or service (or just connect with you over coffee). To create a profile, just visit the site and click the “list a resource” button on the home page.

Furthermore, see the video below to learn more about The Gayle and Bill Cook Center for Entrepreneurship at Ivy Tech’s Bloomington campus:

Chamber Encourages Swift, Meaningful Action on RFRA Law

Indiana Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kevin Brinegar encourages state legislators to act swiftly and thoughtfully regarding national reaction to the state’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA):

“Since late last week, we have urged state leaders that additional action is required. We communicated that a legislative fix must be significant and make it crystal clear that the law does not in any way open the door for discrimination of any kind toward any individual or group of individuals.

“Unfortunately, Indiana has taken a tremendous hit to our national identity as a welcoming and hospitable state. The business community is concerned about losing contracts and customers for a law that it did not support and did not want to see happen. Hoosier businesses want nothing more than to continue to serve their customers in the state, nationwide and beyond.”

Background: The Indiana Chamber testified in opposition to the RFRA law and believes that it’s unwarranted.

Brinegar: RFRA Law is Unnecessary, but Indiana Remains Open for Business

16891298Indiana Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kevin Brinegar comments on SB 101, the Religious Freedom Restoration bill, becoming law today and the reaction to that:

“In our eyes, the law is entirely unnecessary. The reactions to it are not unexpected or unpredicted; passing the law was always going to bring the state unwanted attention.

“Yet we are optimistic that the public overall will continue to look to Indiana as a place to come to do business, attend a convention or enjoy a sporting event. Indiana has shown time and time again – whether it’s hosting the Super Bowl or working with companies to bring new jobs to the state – that it’s full of individuals and businesses who are truly welcoming and hospitable.

“Businesses are open for business and want to continue to serve customers in Indiana and throughout the country. That’s the message we are hearing from our members and want to communicate.”

Vanguard National Trailer Corporation: Handcrafted and Growing at Record Pace

aboutusSituated on U.S. Route 421, about 30 miles north of Lafayette, is the town of Monon with a population of approximately 1,800 people. Known for the Monon Food Fest which takes place annually the first Saturday in June, the town is also home to Vanguard National Trailer Corporation, the fastest growing trailer manufacturer in North America.

On St. Patrick’s Day, I had the privilege to travel to Monon to see what goes into making a trailer that ultimately hauls goods all across our great country. I joined up with Vanguard Human Resources Manager Jake Pinkerton, who provided me with the history of the company and what has made it into an industry leader.

After establishing operations in Monon in 2003, the first trailer left the manufacturing line in February 2004. Since that time, Vanguard has implemented innovative processes that streamline operations for more efficient results. With leadership and support from parent company CIMC, Vanguard has continued to grow at an accelerated rate. The company is dedicated to its customers and is committed to advancing the trailer industry one trailer at a time.

Today, Vanguard manufactures approximately 45 trailers per day; they are constructed, quite literally, by the hands of more than 500 Hoosier workers. Very few (if any) parts of the manufacturing process include high-tech machinery. In fact, as you tour the plant, you readily notice the handcrafted care that goes into each customized trailer.

In 2015, Vanguard will manufacture more than 10,000 trailers, a production record for the company.

So next time you travel the highways of Indiana and see the name Vanguard, just know that the hands of fellow Hoosiers made it possible.

To learn more about Vanguard National Trailer Corporation, visit www.vanguardtrailer.com.

Engineering and Business: Collaboration in Education

Brooks G 3047_head_shotThis post from Earl D. Brooks II, Ph.D., president of Trine University and member of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce board of directors, originally appeared in Inside INdiana Business.

The rapidly changing economic environment illustrates the importance of universities to provide both engineering and business programs with innovative curriculum. Such programs are essential because these students will be responsible for engineering, technology and business initiatives in the 21st century.

With that in mind, Trine University has created the College of Engineering and Business to focus on fast-changing economic needs while harnessing opportunities that exist and providing broader educational options.

It is imperative universities respond to circumstances within the contemporary climate of education. More high school graduates are entering college with college credits already earned, requiring universities to develop nontraditional options. While this can reduce student debt, we think universities should also strive to offer creative and unique curriculum to provide an even broader education. At Trine, students bringing credits can earn a bachelor degree in just three years, or opt to earn a bachelor degree and a master degree in four years in the 3 + 1 program.

Trine created three-year bachelor programs and went a step further to offer a one-year master’s degree program for both engineering and business students who choose to enter the 3 + 1 program. These students may earn a bachelor degree in any engineering major in three years and earn a Master of Science in Engineering Management (MSEM) in one year. Business concepts are the nucleus of the MSEM curriculum.

In comparison, students may earn a bachelor degree in any business major in three years and a Master of Business Administration in one year. The MBA curriculum includes engineering fundamentals. Both programs promote the cross-education model of preparing business and engineering students to collaborate and understand each other’s responsibilities for the success of the companies they serve.

Employers tell us there is a gap in the educations of engineering and business students entering the workforce. By responding to this concern, universities can better prepare their students for successful careers.

Engineers are excellent at developing devices and creating technology to advance their employers’ products and/or services, but often they are not equally adept at understanding business processes. Changes in the economic environment demand engineers possess business skills too. Engineering professionals of tomorrow must be self-sufficient business units, regardless of their position. The blending of engineering and business studies should foster this vision.

Traditionally, universities teach engineering knowledge and skills around manufacturing, technology support and product design. In Trine’s College of Engineering and Business, we teach these methods with the additional curriculum to build entrepreneurial skills crucial to develop economically relevant opportunities for business and technology. For example, engineering students of all disciplines can minor in business, preparing them for roles in engineering management, cost accounting, resource acquisition and leveraging, and financial risk management.

Similarly, business students must understand how engineering operations work and how successful engineering and technology companies operate. The curriculum for business students is enhanced by engineering-based courses on innovation, technology planning, development processes and patents. They must also understand the engineers’ perspective along with their problem-solving process and technical limitations they encounter. Businesses cannot sell goods engineers cannot produce and engineers should not produce goods businesses cannot sell.

Universities with a business school model that embraces the entrepreneurial spirit can promote initiatives and experiences to benefit business and engineering students. In Trine’s case, the Rhoads Center for Entrepreneurship along with Innovation One, an innovative service delivery framework within Trine, give business and engineering students the ability to work and learn together. Students team in a collaborative, hands-on environment to develop ideas and concepts along with business plans and more through private-sector projects secured by Innovation One.

Forging relationships between higher education and business and industry benefits students and employers. Such partnerships pave the way for internships, cooperative education and full-time employment. These opportunities enhance experiential learning, raise awareness of employers’ needs and expectations, and expand employment options for graduates.

Keeping pace with today’s fast-moving technologies and economy is the primary motivator in combining engineering and business studies. It is the educator’s responsibility to use a holistic approach to prepare students to be career-ready so they can make an immediate impact.

Inaugural Career Ready Season to Kick Off in April

careerreadyIndiana’s Career Ready campaign (formerly KnowHow2GOIndiana) takes place each April through July, with real-world advice and practical experiences to help students prepare for their future careers. Efforts will focus on career sectors that are projected to be in high demand for Indiana’s economy (advanced manufacturing; agriculture, agribusiness and food; healthcare and life sciences; information technology and clean energy technology; and logistics).

Beginning with the official statewide kick-off week (April 20-24), Career Ready aims to:

  • Educate Hoosier students about the range of career options in Indiana;
  • Expose Hoosier students of all ages to meaningful work-and-learn experiences;
  • Equip Hoosier students with the education and skills required to succeed in their careers and meet Indiana’s economic needs.

Get involved
Career Day (April 24) is an opportunity to get in the schools in your region and share your experience. Whether you present about your job, the sector you work in or employability skills, students need to hear directly from employers.

Complete this short, five-question survey by Friday, March 13 to tell the Commission for Higher Education about your current efforts and how you’d like to partner with schools in your region. Please note that survey information may be shared with your local school districts.

Career Ready is an initiative of Learn More Indiana, led by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. Visit the web site at CareerReadyIndiana.org.

Engaging Employees is Critical to a Thriving Business

45379113Some companies have a very difficult time getting engagement and “buy in” from their employees. Ragan lists some of the reasons your employees may be feeling disillusioned. (Read the full article for elaboration.)

  1. Employees don’t know what game they’re in, how it’s played, and what the stakes are.
  2. Employees don’t know exactly how to make the biggest contribution.
  3. You don’t give employees a reason to care about contributing.
  4. Managers don’t know how to create an environment that fosters passion, courage and a desire for excellence.
  5. Employees are set up for the “Agony of Defeat” rather than the “Thrill of Victory.”
  6. Bad behavior and poor performance go unchallenged.
  7. Employees feel unappreciated.

Fortunately, many Indiana companies are making those valuable connections with their team members — and 100 were recently recognized by earning a spot on the Best Places to Work in Indiana list. The rankings will be announced at the 10th Annual BPTW in Indiana Awards Dinner on May 7. Get your tickets now.

 

Wick’s Pies: Maximizing Its Chamber Investment Through Compliance Resources

foodserviceLife is sweet at Wick’s Pies

The family-owned business, which opened in 1944 and has been an Indiana Chamber member since 1984, has a tight-knit team that whips up flavors such as pecan, pumpkin, sugar crème (the state pie), coconut crème, German chocolate and more. During an eight-hour production shift, the associates can bake as many as 12,000 pies. In addition, they can make 40 shells per minute in a seven-hour period.

Wick’s has spawned Wick’s Foods (which makes pie glaze for Wick’s Pies) and a restaurant – all located within a block of one another in Winchester.

Human resources specialist Tonya Fouse notes that prior to joining Wick’s Pies in 2006, “I worked in the automotive industry and was a purchasing manager. I had strong managerial skills, but I didn’t know a thing about HR.

“It was baptism by fire and our tool to teach me was the Indiana Chamber – the seminars I went to, all the reading material I could get my hands on (citing publications that cover topics such as unemployment law, worker’s compensation and labor relations), and the (helpline) resources I could call.”

Fouse proudly shares that she earned the Chamber’s Human Resources Specialist Certificate in 2012 after attending a variety of training events. In addition, she routinely utilizes the Chamber’s HR Helpline, a free, confidential resource exclusively available to members.

“We’ve just about hit every topic there is. With FMLA (for instance), it seems there’s always something that evolves. I totally trust in that resource, and it’s wonderful for me to be able to shoot an email (to director of human resources Michelle Kavanaugh) and a response comes back within the hour. It’s been a lifesaving tool for me.

“(The Chamber) kind of formed me and molded me into the HR specialist I am today.”

Postsecondary Pathways Events Draw Attention to Regional Skill Needs

16012978Educators, employers and community members gathered at the Ivy Tech Muncie campus last week to discuss career and training opportunities in manufacturing and construction at the Postsecondary Pathways event, sponsored by JPMorgan Chase & Co., and co-hosted by the Indiana Youth Institute, CELL, Indiana Department of Workforce Development and the Indiana Chamber.

Rick Barnett, VP Engineering at Indiana Marujun, LLC, summed up the need for the convening in the first panel discussion:

“Students are starting to see the value of manufacturing and seeing it as a viable career opportunity,” said Barnett. “But we’re still not where we need to be.”

Barnett went on to add that Indiana Marujun has not been fully staffed in the maintenance department as long as he can remember. Current employees are putting in great amounts of overtime to keep up with demand.

Drew Dubois with DuPont Pioneer also said they struggle to find maintenance workers, as well as computer and technical skills. He said their biggest challenge, however, is finding employees with soft skills (accountability, creativity and passion).

Indiana Marujun recently developed an apprenticeship program to develop their future talent. The U.S. Department of Labor runs Registered Apprenticeship, a system that provides the opportunity for workers seeking high-skilled, high-paying jobs and for employers seeking to build a qualified workforce. Each state has an apprenticeship office; for more information, visit the web site.

Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann gave the opening keynote, encouraging employers to offer more work-and-learn opportunities, such as internships, and for educators to share multiple “Plan A’s” with their students. Included in the event was a tour of Magna Powertrain, a supplier for the global automotive industry with focus in powertrain design, development, testing and manufacturing, that employs hundreds of associates at two locations in Muncie.

Other Postsecondary Pathways events were held in Lafayette, Odon and Batesville. Additional events are planned for the fall. Visit the Indiana Youth Institute’s web site to find dates and registration information for these future opportunities.

Learn more about the participating businesses at the Region 6 Postsecondary Pathways event:

IndianaSkills.com aims to bridge the gap between the types of training and credentials people are pursuing in Indiana and the skills being requested by our state’s employers. The site provides information on employer demand for specific jobs, skills and certifications compared to the supply of graduates completing short-term training (two years or less beyond high school) related to these jobs, skills and certifications.