Chamber Staff Comings and Goings

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce is just a few years away from celebrating 100 years (the organization was founded in 1922). Over nearly a century, there have been countless staff changes and evolutions to help move the organization forward.

Janet Boston

Today, we say “thank you and farewell” to Janet Boston, who is retiring as executive director of the Indiana INTERNnet program, which is managed by the Indiana Chamber. Boston has been in the role for seven years and caps off an outstanding career in both the non-profit and for-profit sectors. Read more about Boston’s impact with the organization here. The Indiana Chamber and Indiana INTERNnet Board sent Boston out in style – with a luncheon and office celebration, and presented her with a custom necklace in appreciation of her taking the program to new heights.

Mark Lawrance, who has most recently been advocating in the economic development and technology areas, will replace Boston as interim executive director of Indiana INTERNnet, starting June 1. Lawrance will be retiring later this year and is expected to stay in the interim role until the fall.

Additionally, as previously announced, the Indiana Chamber has partnered with the Wellness Council of Indiana and Gov. Eric Holcomb’s administration to help combat the state’s opioid epidemic. The new Indiana Workforce Recovery initiative is a joint effort among the groups and is led by Jennifer Pferrer, executive director of the Wellness Council. The initiative provides employers with resources and guidance on how to help their employees who are impacted by the opioid epidemic. Allyson Blandford has come on board at the Wellness Council to support the initiative as project manager.

Also at the Wellness Council, Madie Newman has joined as program coordinator for the Indiana Healthy Communities initiative. The role has been created to support the organization in helping communities coordinate wellness efforts, ensuring healthier citizens and acting as a draw for economic development opportunities.

Abbi Espe rounds out our membership team. She was hired this spring as the manager of member services for northeastern Indiana and will focus on bringing new companies into the fold.

On the education front, the grant-funded college and career readiness position, held by Shelley Huffman, ends today. Lobbyist Caryl Auslander, who handled education and workforce matters, has left for new endeavors.

Greg Ellis, vice president of energy and environmental policy, is now responsible for federal lobbying. Members of the Indiana Chamber’s advocacy team are assuming Auslander and Lawrance’s other policy committee duties on a temporary basis until new staff is hired later this summer.

We wish everyone well and good luck in their future activities and look forward to the contributions of our new team members to continue the important work and mission of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce in “cultivating a world-class environment which provides economic opportunity and prosperity for the people of Indiana and their enterprises.”

For our complete staff listing, visit the web site at: https://www.indianachamber.com/about/staff-listing/

More Than Just Policy Advocacy

The advocacy efforts of the Indiana Chamber are not limited to the state level or laws passed by the Indiana General Assembly or Congress. In early 2017, members provided input into the most onerous federal rules and regulations that were impacting their businesses.

At the end of 2017, we reported significant progress in a number of areas. In case you missed it, here is that review (https://www.indianachamber.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/RegulatoryPrioritiesforTrumpAdminDONE.pdf) of actions taken by the President, federal agencies or the courts.

In addition, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy gives an additional example:

It concerned the application of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act to movie theaters. After receiving input from theater operators, the Department of Justice reduced the amount of closed captioning and descriptive equipment that theaters are required to purchase. The change resulted in small business savings of $66 million between the proposed and final rule.

The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (RFA) was enacted to address the disproportionate burden of regulation on small businesses. The Office of Advocacy reports that efforts to promote federal agency compliance with RFA resulted in $913.4 million in regulatory cost savings for small entities in fiscal year 2017.

Writing is the Right Stuff for This Guy

I came to the Indiana Chamber slightly more than 15 years ago partially out of a desire to return to my writing roots. Newspaper reporting and other writing had evolved into managerial duties that primarily included editing and page layout (that's another story for another time).

The writing part started on Day 1 and has never really stopped. If variety is the spice of life, I can skip the spice aisle at the local grocery. Fifteen years of BizVoice magazine have delivered numerous story opportunities on subjects ranging from education and taxes to economic development and business success stories.

But we do a lot more at the Indiana Chamber, which involves many forms of writing. Some of the ongoing projects/initiatives that we're working on for our members and investors:

These are a few example of what keeps life interesting around here. Not to mention the scripts, presentations, press releases, fact sheets and other items that help achieve the Chamber mission.

Want to Know What We Do? Just Ask Our Members

If you've ever wondered what exactly the Indiana Chamber does, just watch this video as some of our members explain what we're doing for them.

If you'd like to join 5,000 other Hoosier organizations (including businesses, non-profits, colleges, etc.) to help us help you — and receive many other benefits to add value to your membership — reach out to our membership team. Dues are likely much more affordable than you think — and are 89% tax deductible. Become part of the Chamber family today!

Why They Belong? Glad You Asked

You can visit the Indiana Chamber web site to learn all about the programs and benefits of Chamber membership. But what do members say when asked, and they are asked on a continuing basis, about why they join or remain members?

Before getting to the list, do note that membership has increased to nearly 5,000 companies (and many more individuals within those organizations). The growth continues despite the economic times that have forced a number of businesses to close and others to cut back. New companies are coming on board every day, complementing the nearly 300 that have been members continuously for more than 50 years.

The top reasons:

That’s what the members who are surveyed on a rotating basis have to say. How about you? Let us know what you think.