Tech Talk: Entrepreneurship and the World

While innovators and entrepreneurs often exhibit a required laser focus on their own initiatives, there is a whole wide world of activities taking place. Here are three observations from the Kauffman Foundation after the recent Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC).

When 171 nations gathered in Istanbul, Turkey, to discuss the future of entrepreneurship, it showed that entrepreneurship has moved beyond the fringes of economic development planning. Each country was represented by some officials in the highest levels of their respective governments, emphasizing the importance of the role entrepreneurs play in building stronger economies.

We need to remember that many countries aren’t so fortunate. While at GEC, we spoke with two entrepreneurs from Venezuela. They work aggressively to infuse entrepreneurship into their homeland, and they believe entrepreneurship can transform communities. However, they are facing innumerable obstacles with an economy in disarray and a government not supportive of entrepreneurship, currently making Venezuela one of the toughest countries in which to start a business. For these two entrepreneurs, at least, conditions are so challenging, they run their activities from exile.

We in the United States face countless barriers to take an idea and make it an economic reality. However, we should also be thankful that we have the support of our governments – federal, state, and local.

In the U.S., systemic barriers have left women too far behind in starting and growing enterprises. In 2018, women are still half as likely as men to own employer businesses. That’s unacceptable.

In addition to advancing the Kauffman Foundation’s strategies in reducing barriers for women entrepreneurs, we as an organization have been working on being more aware of our own unconscious bias. One thing that was troubling throughout GEC was how representatives from some countries talked about entrepreneurship. To some, they believe entrepreneurship was a male-only venture. It was even more obvious when those same individuals were on more diverse panel discussions and attempted to dominate the conversation by talking over women panelists. It’s something that we all need to be more alert to and speak up on.

Our nation needs to take note. Other countries are approaching the work of supporting entrepreneurship with a passion and zeal. We can no longer take for granted that the U.S. is on the cutting edge of innovation and change. Countries like Estonia, Congo and the Philippines all see entrepreneurship as a pathway to a better future for their communities and nations. They are working aggressively to support entrepreneurs through coordinated strategies that enhance education, training and eliminate barriers to access of capital and the start-up process.

We need to keep moving forward, and quickly, or others will outpace us. We can do it, but we can’t be complacent in our approach. We must act with intentional urgency.

Focus on Health This Summer

What’s the state of Indiana’s health?

Unfortunately, it’s not good. In fact, Indiana ranks at the bottom in several health metrics.

One of those is opioid abuse, which has received a lot of attention recently around the state. However, Hoosiers also continue to struggle with tobacco use and obesity (and diseases related to both), as well as high infant mortality rates.

Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar recently penned an article on how health is the missing piece of Indiana’s economic puzzle. For additional background and data on the issue, read it here.

The Alliance for a Healthier Indiana – made up of health care professionals, educators, business and community leaders – is aiming to educate the public and policymakers about these issues, grow local support and generally raise awareness of the dangers of our poor health, while also sharing ways Hoosiers can work together to improve these metrics.

With its State of Our Health Road Show, the Alliance is on the road this summer and fall, hosting free town hall meetings in all corners of the state.

The road show is in Fort Wayne today and will travel to Muncie tomorrow, June 13. Other June dates include Richmond on June 19 and Connersville on June 20. The complete schedule is available here; events go through October.

To see clips and video from earlier road shows, visit the Alliance for a Healthier Indiana’s Facebook page.

Founding members of the Alliance for a Healthier Indiana include the Indiana Hospital Association, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, the Indiana State Medical Association, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Indiana and the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health.

Brinegar and Community Health Network President and CEO Bryan Mills recently spoke about the Alliance and the state of Indiana’s health during a segment on Inside INdiana Business. The segment gives an overview of the issues:

To learn more about the Alliance for a Healthier Indiana visit the web site at www.healthierindiana.org.

Achieve Your Degree (and Save Money) With Indiana Chamber Discount

Many of the adults in Indiana with some or no postsecondary education are already working at companies or organizations that are desperate for a pipeline of talent to grow their businesses.

Those companies need to look no further than their own employee base with assistance from Ivy Tech Community College and its Achieve Your Degree program (plus a tuition discount courtesy of your Indiana Chamber of Commerce membership).

Employers interested in upskilling their existing workforce, attracting new employees with a tuition reimbursement benefit and are members of the Indiana Chamber can enroll in Achieve Your Degree and offer full-time employees a 5% discount on tuition costs, or take advantage of that savings if the company already pays employee tuition.

With Achieve Your Degree, employers can offer tuition reimbursement with minimal up-front costs as tuition can be deferred to the end of the semester. An Ivy Tech representative will also offer on-site academic advising and work with students on the financial aid application process.

Flexibility and customization are hallmarks of Achieve Your Degree. For example, to ensure students maintain their working schedules, they may take a combination of in-class and distance education. As the largest public postsecondary institution in Indiana, Ivy Tech has more than 40 locations throughout the state.

The Indiana Chamber expects the partnership with Ivy Tech to pay off for its member companies in several ways: skill upgrades, cost savings and building employee loyalty by offering the benefit.

Ivy Tech started the Achieve Your Degree program in 2016.

Member companies interested in learning more or signing up can find more information at www.indianachamber.com/achieve. Verify your Indiana Chamber membership is current and that your company is eligible for the 5% discount by calling Nick at (317) 264-6898.

Taking Employee Skills to the ‘Next Level’

Over the next decade, more than one million jobs must be filled in Indiana. Governor Holcomb recently announced enhancements to the Employer Training Grant component of the Next Level Jobs initiative, which prepares Hoosiers for positions in high-demand industry sectors.

What’s different? As of May 1, the reimbursement amount per new employee jumped from $2,500 to $5,000. The cap per employer also doubled – from $25,000 to $50,000.

Where does training take place? In-house or from an external provider.

What types of businesses are covered by the Employer Training Grant? Six industries are featured:

  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Building and Construction
  • Health Sciences
  • Information Technology and Business Services
  • Transportation and Logistics
  • Agriculture

Since its inception to 2017, nearly 600 applications have been received. More than $5.2 million in training funds have been obligated.

Tech Talk: Who Deserves ‘Dynamic’ Award for 2018?

A good sign of Indiana’s growing innovation and entrepreneurship stature is that it continues to get more difficult to select the winner of the Indiana Chamber’s annual Dynamic Leader of the Year award.

For 29 years, the Chamber has recognized business, government and community excellence. In 2015, the Dynamic Leader honor was added to the mix. The official definition:

This award honors a leader who is working toward achieving goals outlined in the Indiana Vision 2025 economic development plan, particularly the Dynamic and Creative Culture driver that focuses on entrepreneurship and new business creation/expansion.

In other words, it’s business success and helping grow the local/regional/state tech and innovation ecosystem.

Here are the first three honorees and their BizVoice magazine stories:

Nominations for the 2018 honor are due no later than June 15. It’s a straightforward process. Details and the online form are available at www.indianachamber.com/annual-awards-dinner/.

The awards dinner, taking place November 13 at the Indiana Convention Center, will feature keynote speaker J.D. Vance. Look for more soon on the author, venture capitalist and Midwest evangelist for business and economic growth. It’s not too early to secure your table or tickets.

All About the Innovation Districts

Larry Gigerich, executive managing director at Ginovus and an Indiana Chamber board member, recently wrote about innovation districts and their importance – accessing talent, collaborating with higher educational institutions and partnering with other private sector companies.

Below are three of the lists he shared as part of that writing:

Innovation District Characteristics

  • Proximity to higher educational research assets (university, college, hospital, etc.)
  • Presence of research based organizations (non-profit and/or for profit)
  • Location of technology enabled company facilities
  • Magnets (quality of place assets) for talent
  • Available real estate for development
  • Access to the different forms of transportation
  • Co-working space for researchers
  • Retail services to support people working in the area

 Well-Established U.S. Innovation Districts

  • The Cleveland Health-Tech Corridor
  • Kendall Square in Cambridge
  • University City in Philadelphia
  • Research Triangle Park in Raleigh-Durham
  • Medical Alley in Rochester
  • University Research Park in Madison
  • Research Park in Salt Lake City
  • South Lake Union in Seattle

 Developing Innovation Districts

  •  Cortex in St. Louis
  • 16 Tech in Indianapolis
  • Future City in Detroit
  • Akron Innovation District
  • Syracuse Innovation Zone
  • The Innovation District of Chattanooga
  • University Research Park in Ames
  • Yanke Research Park in Boise

VIDEO: ‘Paris is Only the Beginning’

Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar comments on the enhanced connectivity to and from Indianapolis thanks to an increasing number of direct flights from the Indianapolis International Airport. Those locations include the west coast and, of course, the city’s first international direct flight to Paris, France, which had its inaugural flight May 25. Watch:

 

 

Tech Talk: OPT May Be Partial Answer to Talent Needs

Those in the talent attraction business – and who isn’t these days – probably know about the H-1B visa program and the cap challenges that come with it. Less well known in general, but surging in popularity among foreign students, is the Optional Practice Training (OPT) program.

OPT allows foreign graduates to seek temporary work anywhere in the country that is directly related to their field of study. According to the State Science & Technology Institute, foreign STEM graduates participating in OPT grew by 400% from 2008 to 2016. In recent years, OPT approvals outpaced H-1B visas.

The leading regions retaining foreign students graduating from local colleges are New York (85%), Seattle (84%) and Honolulu (83%). The metro areas with the largest share of foreign graduates coming from other metros are San Jose (71%), Kansas City (69%) and Peoria, Illinois (66%).

An in-depth story from the Pew Research Center explains it all. Below are a few excerpts.

More than half (53%) of the foreign graduates approved for employment specialized in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) data.

Foreign students obtaining authorization to remain and work in the U.S. after graduation come from all corners of the globe, but the majority of them hold citizenship in Asia. Students from India, China and South Korea made up 57% of all OPT participants between 2004 and 2016.

While both programs give foreign workers temporary employment authorization in the U.S., they are different in a number of ways. For instance, only foreign students on an F-1 visa with a higher education degree from a U.S. college or university are eligible for the OPT program, whereas any foreign worker with a degree that is equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree or higher is permitted to apply for the H-1B visa.

Also, unlike the H-1B visa program, which imposes an annual cap of 65,000 visas to private companies sponsoring foreign workers, there is no cap on the number of approvals available under the OPT program; all F-1 visa holders are eligible to apply. Furthermore, foreign students do not require employer sponsorship to apply for OPT, while the H-1B visa program requires employers to directly sponsor the foreign workers they intend to hire.

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!

VIDEO: May-June BizVoice is Live

Capping off the excitement of smashing several records in one night at the Best Places to Work in Indiana celebration last week, the new edition of BizVoice magazine is live with in-depth coverage of many of the honored companies.

Oh, and those records I mentioned? Here they are:

  • A record 125 companies made the list in 2018
  • It was the largest crowd in the 13 years of the program, with nearly 1,400 attendees at the Indiana Convention Center
  • According to Peter Burke, president of the Best Companies Group (which runs the Best Places to Work program in Indiana and 29 other states), Indiana’s Best Places to Work event is the largest in the country

Tom Schuman, senior vice president of communications and operations, takes a two-minute peek into the May-June 2018 edition, which includes another in our yearlong Road Trip Treasures series, this time focusing on Fort Wayne.

Also included is a look at some legislative disappointments from the Indiana General Assembly session, particularly on three policies important to the state’s business and economic future. And find an update on the Attractive Business Climate driver of our long-range economic development plan, Indiana Vision 2025, including a progress report on the commercial court pilot project.

Check it out:

In addition to the new BizVoice web site that debuted last week, we’ve got a special offer for small organizations with fewer than 50 employees as part of our Small Business Showcase. BizVoice is offering a buy one, get one free quarter-page advertising special for its two summer issues. The quarter-page investment (just $1,020) includes the print and digital versions of both issues.

“While the number of businesses advertising in BizVoice continues to grow each year, we want to make sure companies of all sizes have the ability to reach our influential audiences,” states Tim Brewer, BizVoice Advertising Director. “Helping businesses grow has been at the core of the Indiana Chamber’s mission throughout its history.”

To take advantage of this offer, please contact Brewer – tbrewer@indianachamber.com, (317) 496-0704 – by Friday, May 25. The July/August issue ad will be invoiced in July for $1,020, and the September/October issue is free.

Connect your small business with the Indiana Chamber audience!