Give Me Liberty! Give Me a 51st State

A television station in Washington state recently reported that representatives there would like to divide their state — with the eastern half becoming the state of Liberty. Legislation includes the following: “Since statehood, the lifestyles, culture and economies of eastern and western Washington have been very distinct and dramatically different.”

The TV outlet reports a tech, service-oriented economy in Seattle and Olympia (the capital), while Spokane anchors the east with roots in mining, forestry and agribusiness.

Not surprisingly, forming a new state is not a simple process. But shockingly, at least 12 new states have been proposed at one time or another (according to State Legislatures magazine). Among the offerings: South Alaska, South Florida, North Maine and Superior (Michigan’s Upper Peninsula).

Utah Tops List of Where Growth is Happening

Utah’s population topped three million people in 2016, with the state being the fastest growing in the 12-month period starting July 1, 2015. The western flavor continued with others at the top of the list including Nevada, Idaho, Florida and Washington.

Now, approximately 38% of the population lives in what the Census Bureau identifies as the South, with 24% in the West.

Kiplinger goes a step further, with cities where it expects job creation to thrive going forward. At the top of that list (with a reason or two cited) are:

  • St, George, Utah: magnet for tourists visiting Zion National Park and retirees seeking pleasant weather
  • Bend and Redmond, Oregon: also strong in tourism and drawing retirees
  • Cleveland, Tennessee: home to a wide range of manufacturing operations
  • Prescott, Arizona: cooler climate makes it an attractive alternative to Phoenix
  • Savannah, Georgia: home of the fourth-busiest ocean port, which will grow once its harbor is deepened to handle larger vessels

FaegreBD Consulting Provides Washington-Indiana Connection

FBDLogo_DarkBlue_RGBA recent BizVoice profile on former U.S. congresswoman Mary Bono (Nov/Dec issue) includes an update on the work she is doing today for FaegreBD Consulting. And there is a distinct Indiana tie.

FaegreBD, with approximately 50 professionals, is a Washington, D.C. division of the Faegre Baker Daniels law firm, which started in Indianapolis in 1863. Today, the legal portion offers services internationally across 14 offices.

Among FaegreBD’s areas of focus: health care and life sciences, energy and environment, financial services (primarily insurance related) and the public sector (government and academic institutions, for example).

Two emerging areas for the consulting practice include food and agriculture and what the group calls “tech plus”, which is cyber security, privacy and other technology policy matters.

Bono has been involved in the “tech plus” arena and also is the lead on the prescription drug abuse issue.

The national Collaborative for Effective Prescription Opioid Policies (CEPOP) “is a great example of Mary’s ability to bring different qualities to the client service and to the organization,” says David Zook, managing partner of Faegre Baker Daniels’ D.C. office and chair of FaegreBD Consulting.

“That’s a large national coalition with about three dozen participants from all across the sector – manufacturers, distributors, prescribers and patients – behind policy priorities, and then teamed with expertise both at the firm and at those organizations as well.” Indiana-based AIT Labs is among the CEPOP participants.

All of these consulting sectors are aligned with the firm’s legal practices, yet are distinguished from them and deliver different but complimentary services, Zook notes.

He also stresses the group’s commitment to Indiana plus a “real depth” on the complex issues.

“These tend to be highly regulated industries that have a lot of interaction with D.C. … or a lot of policy at the federal level. So it’s that combination (along with knowing Indiana) that sets us apart.”

Time for a New Dining Experience in Evansville

Summer is a great time to try a new restaurant and a new experience. You can do both by attending Evansville’s first Dishcrawl on Tuesday, July 9.

Join other food lovers to sample specialties and meet owners and chefs at four restaurants on Franklin Street. Participating restaurants are a secret. Hints, however, are being given via Twitter @DishcrawlEvansv.

Beginning at 7:30 p.m., ticketholders will meet at the first location (provided 48 hours in advance via email) to start their dining experience. After sampling cuisine at the initial restaurant, they will then travel by foot to enjoy the fare at the three remaining locations.

Dishcrawl started in San Jose, but has grown to host events across the nation in cities such as San Francisco, New York, Washington D.C., and more. Its mission is to show food lovers the best dishes in local restaurants.

There are a limited number of tickets (regular price $45, with Chamber members and blog readers eligible for a 15% discount by using the code chamberfranklin for the Evansville event). Purchase online.  

Questions about the event can be directed to the Evansville Dishcrawl Ambassador Michael Armanno via email at michaela@dishcrawl.com.

I-69: Open for Business!

Today was a monumental day in Indiana transportation, with the opening of a portion of the new I-69 highway. Gov. Mitch Daniels and other leaders convened to open the road this morning near Evansville, and Daniels then rode his motorcycle to Washington (Indiana). The Indy Star reports:

Daniels called the new stretch of highway "perfect,” proclaiming it will be a source of jobs and joy for communities along route.

Daniels, joined by federal, state and local officials, this morning opened the first of three new sections of I-69 in Far-Southwestern Indiana with a ribbon-cutting ceremony near Evansville. Rep. Larry Bucshon, R-Ind. , Lt. Gov.-elect Sue Ellspermann, Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke and Norm Bafunno, president of Toyota Indiana were on hand.

Bouchon got to drive highway. He said he was thrilled with it connection the 3rd largest city with central Indiana.

Pike County commissioner Brian Davis also road the route with Daniels’ entourage. He called it both good and strange. Davis said it is great to have the county’s first interstate, but added "it was funny how quick we went through our county."

Daniels headed north to Washington and met with David Graham, a retired Daviess County farmer and longtime advocate for the new I-69 corridor, and Mark Newland, representing his late father, Jim, of the Mid-Continent Highway Coalition, another long-time advocate for the new highway.

The governor’s final stopwill be at a new interchange with U.S. 231 near Crane Division, Naval Surface Warfare Center about 20 miles west of Bloomington. According to INDOT, that stop also will “include special recognition of Indiana basketball legend Bobby Plump and Olympic gold medalist David Boudia.”

The new interstate is slated to open to the public at 6 p.m.

Thanks to Chamber VP Cam Carter for the picture, taken this morning near Evansville.

Gigerich Breaks Down U.S. Chamber Enterprising States Report

Larry Gigerich of the highly respected site selection firm Ginovus penned a column for Inside INdiana Business, in which he relays and analyzes a recent report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (to whom we have no direct affiliation) listing the top enterprising states. Interesting stuff:

The Chamber breaks policies down into five major areas.

1. Exports and International Trade
2. Entrepreneurship and Innovation
3. Taxes and Regulation
4. Talent Pipeline
5. Infrastructure

The report combines metrics for the different policy areas to measure performance, which has allowed the Chamber to evaluate the top states based upon quantifiable measurements. Please find below a list of the measurements used to rank the states.

1. Long-term job growth
2. Short-term growth
3. Overall expansion of gross state product
4. Productivity – state output per job
5. Productivity growth – growth in output per job
6. Income growth – growth in per capita personal income
7. Livability – median income of four-person households, adjusted for state cost of living

Based upon the metrics used by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here are the top performing states and a brief summary of why they rank in the top 10.

1. North Dakota: The state ranked in the top 10 in six of the seven measurements. The state ranked first in short-term jobs, long-term jobs, gross state product and per capita personal income. The energy boom in the western part of the state has led the growth of the economy in the state.

2. Wyoming: The state ranked in the top 5 in five different categories. The state is second on long-term job growth and gross state product and third in productivity growth and income growth. Energy, chemicals and metals helped drive the performance of the state’s economy.

3. Virginia: The state has the highest income in the nation, after adjusting for cost of living. In addition, Virginia ranks in the top 25 in all seven categories. The state’s growth in professional services and information technology jobs has helped led to excellent results.

4. Alaska: The state ranked in the top 8 in three key areas: overall productivity, long-term job growth and gross state product. Alaska’s economy has been driven by energy, mining and tourism activities. The growth of these sectors has led to the significant growth of retail support entities in the state.

5. Maryland: The state ranked in the top 25 in all seven measurements. Maryland ranked the highest in adjusted family income, followed by productivity growth. The growth in government jobs in the Washington D.C. area, high technology growth and corporate headquarters helped to propel the state.

6. Texas: Texas ranked second in short-term job growth and fifth in long-term job growth. In addition, the state fared well in the growth of gross state product. Its energy sector, affordability, and business climate fueled economic growth throughout Texas.

7. South Dakota: The state ranked fourth in growth in gross state product and per capita income. Long known for its back-office finance operations due to its well educated workforce, South Dakota can credit growth in manufacturing and professional services for propelling its economy today.

8. Washington: The state of Washington jumped five spots from 2011 largely due to rapid short-term job growth. In particular, aerospace and transportation equipment manufacturing has been growing rapidly. Professional services and technology have also been growing significantly.

9. Iowa: The state ranked fifth in growth in economic productivity, sixth in per capita income growth and eleventh in gross state product. Iowa’s finance and insurance industries have grown by nearly 30 percent. Transportation and warehousing are also growing rapidly.

10. New York: The state ranked in the top 25 in six of the seven measurements. The state jumped eleven spots in this year’s rankings due to the rapid growth of gross state product and per capita income. The rebound in the financial services sector, coupled with the growth of educational entities have assisted New York in these rankings.

Double the Taxing ‘Pleasure’ on April 17

There’s something ironic (not pleasant, but ironic) about Tax Freedom Day this year occuring on April 17 — the same day taxes are due. The day, according to the Tax Foundation, is when people finally work long enough to pay their taxes for the year.

The latest Tax Freedom Day took place on May 1, 2000. With the economy booming that year, Americans paid 33% of their total income in taxes. A century earlier was more pleasant with "freedom" arriving on January 22, 1900.

State tax burdens vary the tax timeframe. Indiana residents will "celebrate" on April 14, which ranks 26th nationally. As for the best of 2012:

  • Tennessee, March 31
  • Louisiana and Mississippi, April 1 (no foolin’)
  • South Carolina, April 3
  • South Dakota, April 4

And the worst:

  • Connecticut, May 5
  • New Jersey and New York, May 1
  • Washington, April 24
  • Wyoming and Illinois, April 23

Here’s a Vote for Cleaning Up the Rolls

When you read as many reports, studies, analyses and similar materials as I do, it’s difficult to be shocked by many of the facts that emerge. But check out these numbers from the Pew Center on the States regarding voter registration:

  • 24 million vote registrations either invalid or largely inaccurate
  • 1.8 million dead people still listed as active voters
  • 2.75 million who are registered to vote in more than one state
  • 51 million (estimated) voting-age U.S. residents who are not registered

Here’s a portion of the NPR story on the findings.

Election officials say one problem is that Americans move around a lot. And when they do, they seldom alert the local election office that they’ve left.

Ben Skupien, a registered voter who now lives in Northern Virginia, is pretty typical. He has moved repeatedly over the years and says he’s probably registered to vote in about a half-dozen states.

"The assumption, I would think, is that they would do the courtesy of letting the other states know that if you’re registered with a new state, [the old registration] would no longer apply," said Skupien.

In fact, states seldom share such information. The Pew study found that almost 3 million people are registered to vote in more than one state.

Voters also die, which leads to another problem, says Linda Lamone, who runs Maryland’s elections.

"If a John Smith lives in Maryland and goes to another state, say on vacation, and dies," Lamone said, "the law of the state where John Smith dies dictates whether or not the Maryland vital statistics people can share that information with me."

And even when they do — or if a person dies in-state — there’s often a delay before election officials are alerted. It’s also not always clear that the individual on the death certificate is the same one who’s registered to vote. Election officials still have to do a lot more digging to avoid accidentally taking someone off the rolls who is very much alive.

Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed says it’s amazing how many times his state has come across names on the voter rolls that appear to be the same person, but turn out not to be.

"We’ve even had cases, in very small counties, people [with the] same name and same birth dates," added Reed.

He said that has led to inaccurate reports that "dead" people are voting. He admits there have been a few cases in his state where widows or widowers have cast ballots for former spouses, but he said such fraud is very rare.

Still, election officials say it’s important that the public have confidence in the system.

So Washington and seven other states — Oregon, Colorado, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Utah and Nevada — are joining a pilot program to share more voter information and other databases, to try to make their lists more accurate. 

Social Media Hot Spots for Job Seekers

The largest city in the United States has the highest volume of social media jobs. No surprise that New York is atop both lists (based on 2010 population figures and a recent report from OnwardSearch, an Internet marketing staffing company that used job postings as its basis for comparison).

Size isn’t always a determing factor when one views the rest of the list. The top 10 social media hot spots for jobs included the following (with their 2010 population ranks in parentheses):

  • 2. San Jose (10th in population)
  • 3. San Francisco (13th)
  • 5. Boston (23rd)
  • 6. Washington, D.C. (25th)
  • 7. Baltimore (22nd)
  • 9. Seattle (24th)

Rounding out the social media top 10: Los Angeles, 4; Chicago, 8; and Philadelphia, 10. Each are among the top five in population.

Go the opposite route and the largest cities not showing up on the social media top 20 are San Antonio (7th in population), Jacksonville (11th) and Indianapolis (12th). Making the biggest jumps (low population, top 20 in jobs) are Atlanta, Minneapolis and Miami.

What does all this prove? Not sure. There may have been a disconnect between city population totals and metro area job postings. Nevertheless, social media is here to stay (and the jobs are widespread).

Who is “LEEDing” the Way?

Put "green" and "government" in the same sentence and the story is usually about funding fights in our nation’s capital. In this case, Washington, D.C. has been recognized as having the most LEED-certified green buildings per capita. More than 100 are used by the federal government. Colorado is the top state. Governing reports: 

The District of Columbia and Colorado have the most LEED-certified commercial and institutional green buildings per capita in the United States, according to a report released Thursday by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

D.C. easily led the nation with 31.5-square-feet of LEED-certified space per capita as of 2011, according to the report. The council highlighted the renovation of the U.S. Treasury Building, which became the oldest LEED-certified building in the country, as an example of the city’s work toward becoming a more sustainable community. More than 100 D.C. buildings used by the federal government are LEED-certified, according to a complete list of LEED projects in the United States provided by the USGBC, along with dozens of local government, private and non-profit buildings.

The city’s green-building efforts began in 2006, when the city council passed a bill requiring that all publicly-owned commercial projects be LEED-certified, according to a USGBC database of policies in all 50 states. D.C. also initiated an incentive program in 2009 for private and residential buildings to pursue LEED certification.

"This is a great accomplishment for the D.C. metropolitan region and a testament to the drive, commitment and leadership of all those who live, work and play in our community," Mike Babcock, board chair of the National Capital Region Chapter of USGBC, said in a statement. "We also realize there is still more to do and hope to effectively guide the effort by engaging, educating and encouraging the dialogue around the value of sustainability."

Colorado ranked as the top state with 2.74 square-feet of LEED space per resident. Former Gov. Bill Owens issued an executive order in 2005 requiring that all state buildings be LEED-certified, according to the USGBC. Former Gov. Bill Ritter signed legislation in 2007 that required any project receiving 25 percent or more of its funding from the state to be designed and built to high-performance green-building standards, such as LEED. Numerous municipalities, including Denver, have adopted their own green-building statutes.

Illinois (2.69 sq. ft. per capita), Virginia (2.42), Washington (2.18) and Maryland (2.07) rounded out the top five. Delaware (0.03), West Virginia (0.14) and Mississippi (0.21) sat at the bottom.

"Our local green building chapters from around the country have been instrumental in accelerating the adoption of green building policies and initiatives that drive construction locally," Rick Fedrizzi, president and CEO of the USGBC, said in a statement. "These states should be recognized for working to reinvent their local building landscapes with buildings that enliven and bolster the health of our environment, communities and local economies."