Tech Talk: Resources to Keep Your Business on Fast Track

Technology and innovation might be driving growth, but a successful organization can’t ignore several business necessities. The Indiana Chamber offers three valuable partner programs for members, the most recent announced this week and addressing the top challenge – workforce – for many companies no matter their industry.

We encourage Chamber members to take advantage of the following. If your company is not a member, reach out to Brett Hulse at (317) 264-6858 to learn more about all the Chamber benefits.

Achieve Your Degree: This program from Ivy Tech Community College makes the employee education and training process seamless. Chamber members receive a 5% discount on existing or future tuition assistance programs. Deferred payments and direct assistance from Ivy Tech on admission, financial aid, tutoring and more are part of the mix.


ChamberCare Solutions: Health care options in partnership with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield to meet your needs, including a PEO offering (ChamberCare Business Resources) that allows you to offer competitive benefits with expert assistance from a partner that focuses on that mission each day. This allows you to concentrate on continued business growth.

Staples Business Advantage: It’s not just office supplies, but furniture, print capabilities, promotional products, facility needs and more. A group purchasing programs allows you to save as much as 30% on products you are already using or new items.

Check out other Chamber member benefits!

Indiana Chamber, Ivy Tech Announce Exclusive Partnership to Aid Workforce Needs

Many Hoosiers looking for a jumpstart to begin or finish their postsecondary education now have a new opportunity through their employers. The Indiana Chamber of Commerce is partnering with Ivy Tech Community College in the Achieve Your Degree program to provide discounted tuition exclusively for Indiana Chamber member companies and their full-time employees.

A 5% discount will apply to a company’s existing or future tuition assistance program, as well as to employees who finance their own education. For convenience, payment is deferred and one invoice is sent at the end of each term that reflects tuition fees after any financial aid has been deducted.

The Indiana Chamber is the state’s largest business advocacy and information organization, representing thousands of businesses of all sizes across the state.

“There’s not a day that goes by that we don’t hear from our members about workforce gaps they are experiencing. We encourage them to take advantage of this program and promote it internally. It’s a good approach to upskilling the workforce and addressing their own company’s needs,” explains Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar. “And by investing in employees, companies build loyalty and that ultimately helps with retention efforts.”

While thousands of organizations across the state are active members of the Indiana Chamber, Brinegar expects this partnership to entice others, saying the investment to join the organization “will be more than offset by the thousands of dollars a business could save annually on tuition costs.”

Ivy Tech Community College, which has more than 40 locations throughout the state, is the largest public postsecondary institution in Indiana. Ivy Tech started the Achieve Your Degree program in 2016.

What can’t be stressed enough, says Ivy Tech Community College President Sue Ellspermann, is how customizable and convenient Achieve Your Degree is.

“Ivy Tech will come directly to your worksite and sit down with management and employees to run through the options and listen to what your individual needs are. We’ll connect employees with the specified courses they need to complete their certificate or degree and meet the job demands of the employer. We can also start at the very beginning and help design a tuition assistance policy if a company doesn’t have one.”

Employees can take a combination of online and on-campus coursework that fits their busy schedules.

Ivy Tech Community College provides support throughout the process, assigning a liaison to help coordinate the effort. Assistance with admissions and financial aid applications, plus student advising and tutoring, are all part of the service. Employers also receive marketing materials to help inform employees about the program.

Brinegar believes one key differentiator of Achieve Your Degree can’t be overstated.

“This is not a traditional tuition reimbursement plan and that’s huge. Large upfront costs have proven to be the big stumbling block in employees taking advantage of any continuing education programs their employers may offer.”

Cook Group, headquartered in Bloomington, experienced that firsthand and redesigned its own program so employees didn’t have to wait for reimbursement. Cook Group President Pete Yonkman reported to the Indiana Chamber last year that the company saw an 800% participation increase in its tuition support program, jumping from 50 to 450 employees.

It will take major strides like these to prepare for the jobs of tomorrow and get more people engaged in completing their education, Ellspermann offers.

“We know there are more than half a million people in this state that started college, but life got in the way of finishing it. Further, another million Hoosier workers never pursued college. We believe Achieve Your Degree and the partnership with the Indiana Chamber will entice many Hoosiers to get the certificate or degree that will provide them a brighter future and bolster the state’s workforce.”

Companies can learn more about this exclusive Achieve Your Degree partnership through the Indiana Chamber at www.indianachamber.com/achieve; Ivy Tech explains the entire program at www.ivytech.edu/achieveyourdegree.

Indiana Chamber Unveils Rankings for the 125 Best Places to Work in Indiana

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce honored a record 125 companies tonight at the 2018 Best Places to Work in Indiana celebration dinner, with rankings announced in four categories.

Taking the top spot:

  • Hanapin Marketing, a Bloomington-based digital marketing company – small category (between 15 and 74 U.S. employees)
  • E-gineering, a technology consulting firm on the northeast side of Indianapolis – medium category (between 75 and 249 U.S. employees)
  • Blue 449, an open source media company from Indianapolis – large category (between 250 and 999 U.S. employees)
  • Edward Jones, an investment firm with branch offices throughout the state – major category (1,000 or more U.S. employees)

It’s Hanapin Marketing’s first-place debut, while Blue 449 is a repeat honoree from last year. E-gineering and Edward Jones are no strangers to No. 1; they last took top honors in 2015 and this marks the third and fifth time, respectively, in leading their category.

“These four companies are the gold standard for creating a successful culture in which employees can thrive. Company leaders particularly understand the importance today of work-life balance, treating workers with respect and offering benefits or perks that really resonate,” states Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar.

“Attracting and keeping a talented workforce is top of mind for all Hoosier employers. Every company on the list made people the priority in its workplace, backing that up with policies and practices geared toward employee success and satisfaction.”

The companies received the Best Places to Work award of excellence at a dinner held at the Indiana Convention Center and sponsored by Ivy Tech Community College.

Winning companies ranged in employee count (at the time of application) from 16 to more than 1,700. Out-of-state parent companies were eligible to participate if at least 15 full-time employees are in Indiana.

Organizations that have displayed sustained excellence during the program’s 13-year history are also awarded Best Places to Work in Indiana Hall of Fame and Pinnacle designations.

Hall of Fame companies are those that have been named a Best Place to Work in Indiana at least 60% of the time in the program’s history; a total of 20 organizations on the 2018 list meet that criteria. Two companies – Edward Jones and Katz, Sapper & Miller – have made the Best Places to Work list all 13 years of the program.

The Pinnacle designation is reserved for those that have finished first in their category three or more times in a five-year period. The four Pinnacle companies in the program’s history are: Edward Jones, Hollingsworth & Zivitz, P.C., Microsoft and Sikich.

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, HR Indiana SHRM and the Wellness Council of Indiana.

In addition to Ivy Tech Community College being the event sponsor, Purdue Global is the spirit sponsor and FirstPerson is the opening reception sponsor. Platinum sponsors are CareSource and Moser Consulting. Silver sponsors are Comcast, Eaton Corporation, Formstack, Human Capital Concepts, OurHealth, Pacers Sports & Entertainment and Smithville. Visibility sponsors are Bedel Financial Consulting, Inc., Delta Dental of Indiana and ESCO Communications, Inc.

These top companies in the state were determined through employer reports and comprehensive employee surveys. The Best Companies Group, which handled the selection process, oversees similar programs in 25 other states.

All companies participating in the 2018 Best Places to Work program receive an in-depth evaluation identifying strengths and weaknesses according to their employees, who are surveyed anonymously.

The report is often 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.

The full list of the 2018 Best Places to Work in Indiana companies by ranking:

*Hall of Fame companies
**Pinnacle companies

Small Companies (15-74 U.S. employees) (57)
Company / Primary Indiana Location

  1. Hanapin Marketing / Bloomington
  2. Sharpen Technologies Inc. / Indianapolis
  3. eimagine / Indianapolis
  4. That’s Good HR / Indianapolis
  5. Big City Cars / Fort Wayne
  6. University High School of Indiana / Carmel
  7. Lakeside Wealth Management / Chesterton
  8. * Cripe / Indianapolis
  9. * Indesign, LLC / Indianapolis
  10. Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP) / Indianapolis
  11. * Apex Benefits / Indianapolis
  12. Leaf Software Solutions / Carmel
  13. Visit Indy / Indianapolis
  14. Magnum Logistics / Plainfield
  15. mAccounting, LLC / Indianapolis
  16. Wessler Engineering / Indianapolis
  17. Goelzer Investment Management, Inc. / Indianapolis
  18. T&W Corporation / Indianapolis
  19. The Garrett Companies / Greenwood
  20. * FirstPerson / Indianapolis
  21. JA Benefits, LLC / Bedford
  22. Insurance Management Group / Marion
  23. Probo Medical / Fishers
  24. Jackson Systems / Indianapolis
  25. RQAW / Indianapolis
  26. LHD Benefit Advisors / Indianapolis
  27. OfficeWorks / Fishers
  28. Peepers by PeeperSpecs / Michigan City
  29. The Skillman Corporation / Indianapolis
  30. Community First Bank of Indiana / Kokomo
  31. BlueSky Technology Partners / Noblesville
  32. CleanSlate Technology Group / Carmel
  33. Hamilton County Tourism / Carmel
  34. Clinical Architecture / Carmel
  35. Brite Systems / Indianapolis
  36. Greenlight Guru / Indianapolis
  37. DK Pierce and Associates / Zionsville
  38. Guidon Design / Indianapolis
  39. Nix Companies / Poseyville
  40. BLASTmedia / Fishers
  41. Accutech Systems / Muncie
  42. Pondurance / Indianapolis
  43. Sigstr / Indianapolis
  44. Grote Automotive / Fort Wayne
  45. VOSS Automotive / Fort Wayne
  46. Merritt Contracting / Lebanon
  47. netlogx LLC / Indianapolis
  48. General Insurance Services / Michigan City
  49. Bloomerang / Indianapolis
  50. Inovateus Solar LLC / South Bend
  51. Bedel Financial Consulting, Inc. / Indianapolis
  52. Springbuk / Indianapolis
  53. ClearObject, Inc. / Fishers
  54. OrthoPediatrics / Warsaw
  55. CENTURY 21 Scheetz / Multiple locations
  56. Public Safety Medical / Indianapolis
  57. RESOURCE Commercial Real Estate / Indianapolis

Medium Companies (75-249 U.S. employees) (30)
Company / Primary Indiana Location

  1. * E-gineering / Indianapolis
  2. Formstack / Indianapolis
  3. Oak Street Funding LLC / Indianapolis
  4. Moser Consulting / Indianapolis
  5. Blue Horseshoe / Carmel
  6. Gregory & Appel Insurance / Indianapolis
  7. American College of Education / Indianapolis
  8. First Internet Bank / Fishers
  9. Lessonly / Indianapolis
  10. Emarsys North America / Indianapolis
  11. * Software Engineering Professionals (SEP) / Carmel
  12. Weddle Bros. Construction Co., Inc. / Bloomington
  13. J.C. Hart Company, Inc. / Carmel
  14. HWC Engineering, Inc. / Indianapolis
  15. CREA, LLC / Indianapolis
  16. Visiting Nurse and Hospice of the Wabash Valley / Terre Haute
  17. * Schmidt Associates, Inc. / Indianapolis
  18. Parkview Wabash Hospital / Wabash
  19. IDSolutions / Noblesville
  20. * Elements Financial Federal Credit Union / Indianapolis
  21. Midwest Mole / Greenfield
  22. Peoples Bank SB / Munster
  23. Butler, Fairman & Seufert, Inc. / Indianapolis
  24. Morales Group, Inc. / Indianapolis
  25. * United Consulting Engineers / Indianapolis
  26. United Way of Central Indiana / Indianapolis
  27. ESCO Communications / Indianapolis
  28. Merchants Bank of Indiana and PR Mortgage & Investments / Carmel
  29. Fort Wayne Rescue Mission Ministries, Inc (DBA The Rescue Mission) / Fort Wayne
  30. Envelop Group / Indianapolis

Large Companies (250-999 U.S. employees) (25)
Company / Primary Indiana Location

  1. Blue 449 / Indianapolis
  2. Kemper CPA Group LLP / Multiple locations
  3. Onebridge / Indianapolis
  4. ** Sikich / Indianapolis
  5. Hylant / Multiple locations
  6. * FORUM Credit Union / Fishers
  7. The Kendall Group / Fort Wayne
  8. * Katz, Sapper & Miller / Indianapolis
  9. IPMG / West Lafayette
  10. Appirio, A Wipro Company / Indianapolis
  11. * Centier Bank / Merrillville
  12. * WestPoint Financial Group / Indianapolis
  13. Carbonite / Indianapolis
  14. Parkview Whitley Hospital / Columbia City
  15. * Blue & Co., LLC / Carmel
  16. Parkview Noble Hospital / Kendallville
  17. * Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company / Fort Wayne
  18. American Structurepoint, Inc. / Indianapolis
  19. Bastian Solutions / Indianapolis
  20. Parkview Huntington Hospital / Huntington
  21. MutualBank / Muncie
  22. Ontario Systems / Muncie
  23. Aluminum Trailer Company / Nappanee
  24. Pacers Sports & Entertainment / Indianapolis
  25. * Monarch Beverage / Indianapolis

Major Companies (1,000+ U.S. employees) (13)
Company / Primary Indiana Location

  1. * ** Edward Jones / Statewide
  2. * Horseshoe Casino Hammond / Hammond
  3. * Salesforce / Indianapolis
  4. Aerotek / Multiple locations
  5. CareSource / Indianapolis
  6. Ameristar Casino + Hotel East Chicago / East Chicago
  7. Total Quality Logistics / Indianapolis
  8. Perficient / Carmel
  9. Colliers International – Indianapolis / Indianapolis
  10. Kronos Incorporated / Indianapolis
  11. Comcast Corporation / Multiple locations
  12. First Merchants Bank / Muncie
  13. * Capital Group / Carmel

Going In-depth on Higher Ed Reporting

In case you missed it, it was announced yesterday that Indiana is one of 10 states to receive a $1 million grant from Complete College America. As the name suggests, the goal is to improve college completion rates — in Indiana and across the nation.

You can check out the governor’s press release. Seeing it prompted me to recall some of the interesting higher education stories I have had the privilege to write in recent years. I’ll share a few below — most relating in one form or another to the truly important college completion topic.

  • In early 2007, the article "Graduation Evaluation" revealed just how poor timely college completion rates are at many schools
  • The Indiana Commission for Higher Education’s grant proposal focused on redesigning remedial coursework at Ivy Tech (we updated the community college’s tremendous surge in "Growing Gains" in 2009) and supporting student success at regional campuses ("Breaking Down Walls" in March-April 2010 recently earned a national award for education reporting)
  • In addition, this year’s education issue featured a profile of Lumina Foundation President Jamie Merisotis. Read "Working to Educate America"
  • And, the person presenting the $1 million as the leader of Complete College America was none other than Stan Jones, Indiana’s longtime higher ed commissioner and the Indiana Chamber’s 2009 Government Leader of the Year

There is no underestimating the importance of education, no matter the level. It’s all about the young people of today, who will comprise our workforce and our leadership of tomorrow. The Chamber will continue its focus in its policy efforts, as will BizVoice through its reporting and analysis. 

Don’t Take Older Workers for Granted

They say you don’t truly appreciate what you have until it’s gone. I can personally relate to that. My grandmother passed away last year and now that she’s no longer here, I wish I had taken advantage of more opportunities to learn from her wisdom.

Many businesses are experiencing their own losses – with the impact felt more on their bottom lines than in their hearts – as seniors retire from the workforce and take their knowledge with them.

Addressing the shrinking and aging of the nation’s workforce is at the center of the Workforce Wise initiative, launched by the Chamber in December 2009. We’re covering this topic with a five-part series in BizVoice® magazine. The current issue features the second installment, which focuses on training opportunities for older workers.

Sometimes, downsizing or a desire to switch careers prompts seniors to pursue training. Often, this happens in the manufacturing field, where people need to upgrade their skills to meet the increasingly complex demands of new technology. Higher education institutions often partner with companies and individuals to provide the training. Ivy Tech Community College’s work in this area is highlighted in the story, along with an organization called Experience Works, which delivers training and employment assistance to low-income, unemployed individuals age 55 and older.

What I miss even more than my grandmother’s cooking (she always lamented that her food didn’t turn out well while the rest of our family members were clamoring for her recipes), is her wisdom.  “What you worry about today, you’ll laugh about tomorrow,” she would say. That was one of my favorites.

Perhaps companies that prepare now for the retirement of older workers will have the last laugh.

Video Spotlights Higher Ed Success Story at Ivy Tech & IU East

A BizVoice® magazine story earlier this year included the following quote:

“We used to have an associate degree in nursing,” states Nasser Paydar, chancellor of Indiana University East (IU East) in Richmond. “Ivy Tech has an associate degree in nursing. What this did was confuse the students in the first place. Why would two state institutions within walking distance have the same degree program, accredited by the same agency?”

IU East no longer has any associate degree programs. Its partnership with its neighboring Ivy Tech campus and other locations within its region goes much deeper. It is a formula that can – and should be – replicated in areas around the state.

But don’t take our word for it. Listen to students, faculty and administrators at the two Richmond campuses describe how young people are able to move through the higher education process more efficiently and be prepared to enter the state’s workforce. A video on the Achieve Indiana web site tells this important story – in their words. 

Chavous: Time for Education is Now

Kevin Chavous doesn’t mince words when it comes to education. And if a few more people shared his passion for truly leaving no child behind, all of us (particularly our students) would be the beneficiaries.

During his Wednesday speech to the Economic Club of Indiana, the Indianapolis native and Wabash College graduate said (and backed up the opinions):

  •  “Nothing is more important to the future of this country than the education of our young people.”
  • “Public education is, by and large, failing our children.” He called it unconscionable that as many as 80% of African American males that enter the Indianapolis Public Schools system eventually are dropouts
  • “It’s intolerable to accept mediocrity (in our schools), and that is what we do.”
  • “Innovation and creativity need to be tailored toward kids’ best interest, not the systems’ best interest.”
  • “The system snuffs the lifeblood out of the best and brightest teachers.”
  • “No bureaucracy has reformed itself from within. It has to come from citizens and parents.”

Need proof of a system that is broken? Chavous offers New York’s “rubber room,” where incompetent teachers sit (and get paid, sometimes for years) while in the process of being fired; California teachers get automatic tenure for life with no reviews after two years on the job (while the union itself admits it takes five to seven years to know if a teacher is capable of doing a good job); and a Washington, D.C. union negotiating plank that all teachers must leave the building by 3:15 p.m. or police will be called (no more working or helping students than the minimum).

A lawyer in Washington, Chavous has been an education reformer within the city and around the country. He gives three reasons why Americans should be outraged at our country’s declining education performance:

  1. A moral imperative to not abandon the many students who are not given a chance to succeed beyond their early years
  2. A public safety analysis that revealed a 10% high school graduation increase would lead to a 20% reduction in the murder rate, fewer incarcerations and more productive citizens
  3. An economic report that showed closing the achievement gaps of students of color, poor students and students compared to their international peers would result in gross domestic product increases of billions and trillions of dollars

Chavous served on President Obama’s education policy team during the campaign, but vehemently opposed the administration’s decision to cut funding for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. His guiding principles on education policy: “The question I ask myself is, ‘Will this proposal help a child or group of children learn? If the answer is yes, I support it.’" And his closing comment on what all need to focus on moving forward – "what’s in the best interest of children, not adults?"

Education makes an encore appearance at the February 23 Economic Club luncheon with Tom Snyder, president of Ivy Tech Community College.

Catching the Bus Still a Priority

In today’s fast-paced, high-tech world, is bus transportation still important? Most major cities would answer a quick yes, as will some smaller communities. Take Valparaiso, the Indiana Chamber’s 2009 Community of the Year.

In an interview with city and community leaders (the story will be in BizVoice magazine and available online on November 10), Mayor Jon Costas explained a partnership with Valparaiso University that produced the V line. The city, with some financial support from the university, runs the service, which transports students and others requiring access to campus. Work is in progress to try and get the line extended eastward to the rapidly growing Ivy Tech Community College facility.

A commuter bus system to Chicago was also put into place earlier this year. Growth has been slow but steady, with a target of 100 daily riders within five years.

It’s all about working together and expanding opportunities for residents, Costas explains.

Valparaiso will be honored, along with the to-be-announced Business Leader of the Year and Government Leader of the Year, at the Chamber’s 20th Annual Awards Dinner on November 10.

Grow, Grow, Growing at Ivy Tech

Who comprises the student population at Ivy Tech Community College? Check out these numbers:

  • 74% work
  • 66% attend part-time
  • 39% have children
  • The average age is 27.5

There are more numbers and plenty of insights in this issue of BizVoice as we explore the continued growth at Ivy Tech. Students, however, are coming aboard at a quicker pace than what is called for in state funding.

The mission at Ivy Tech is critical to meeting the needs of both a new generation of students and thousands in the existing workforce who need retraining. Find out what president Tom Snyder has to say and what he calls the single biggest issue facing the school.

Read Growing Gains at Ivy Tech.

BizVoice: Read the Current Issue to Find Out …

The March-April edition of BizVoice magazine is in the mail and available online. Among the top stories:

  • Straight talk from Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett. It’s refreshing to hear him say there needs to be a shift from "How do we get more money for K-12 education?" to "How do we get more education for our money?"
  • The challenges and opportunities brought on by the growth of Ivy Tech Community College
  • A report that provides a path to meeting major workforce development needs and a Chamber program (Ready Indiana) that connects employers with training providers
  • A community focus on South Bend

We’re fortunate to have a talented team putting together this award-winning publication. Check it out.