TECH THURSDAY: Words of Advice from Business Founders

36886821EDITOR’S NOTE: BizVoice® has featured technology/innovation stories throughout its 18-year history. Look for these flashbacks each Thursday. Here is a 2013 favorite.

Lee Lewellen has concentrated on economic and business growth throughout a 30-year Central Indiana business career. Recently, that focus honed in on entrepreneurs – how they have grown their businesses and what they have learned along the way.

In a series of one-hour iFounders’ interviews, Lewellen tapped into the mindsets of 26 Indiana business leaders. They range from “veterans” such as Bill Mays (Mays Chemical) and Jeff Smulyan (Emmis Communications) to “newcomers” throughout the state, including Ryan Hou of LHP Software (Columbus) and Pete Bitar of XADS (Anderson).

“I was just incredibly humbled that these people who are very successful would spend an hour of their time talking about this,” Lewellen states. It was also a reminder of “how much really cool stuff is taking place in the state of Indiana, both in terms of the innovation and some of the connections these folks have all over the word in selling Indiana products, services and technologies. We kind of take it for granted.”

Lewellen points to Greenville-based Techshot, long known for its work with NASA and more recent diversification into different areas. “It’s out in the middle of nowhere doing some really incredible stuff. They’re there because Mark Deuser wanted to be close to where he grew up. You get a different geographic view of where people are doing these great things. It’s all about networks and mentoring.”

Read the full story online.

And learn more about the Indiana Chamber’s new Technology & Innovation Council. Our first meeting was in August, and was well-attended. Want to participate? Contact Mark Lawrance at mlawrance(at)


Pacer Legends to Kick Off Holiday Weekend at Hoosier Park

The basketball world is buzzing about the Indiana Pacers right now. Sure, the first game of the Eastern Conference Finals Wednesday resulted in a disappointing overtime loss, but it's clear the defending champion Miami Heat realize they will have their hands full (for the second year in a row) with the scrappy squad from Hoosier country. Although, it should be noted that the Pacers have had many successful years. If you'd like to meet some legends from the franchise's distant and recent past, head over to Hoosier Park in Anderson tonight. See details below:

Ten of the Pacers’ more recognizable names from the past 40 years are slated to make a joint-appearance at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Friday, May 24 to kick off the start of Memorial Day weekend live racing. This group of past ABA and NBA Pacers will sign autographs and pose for pictures with fans starting at 7 p.m. in the Hoosier Park Terrace. The event is free and open to the public.

The Pacers’ legends scheduled to appear:

• Rik Smits (1988 – 2000, Center)
• Bobby ‘Slick’ Leonard (1968 – 1980, Head Coach)
• Mel Daniels (1968 – 1974, Center, NBA Hall of Fame Member)
• Derrick McKey (1993 – 2001, Forward/Center)
• Don Buse (1972 – 1977, Point Guard)
• Billy Keller (1969 – 1976, Guard)
• George McGinnis (1971 – 1975, Power Forward/Center)
• Bob Netolicky (1967 – 1976, Forward/Center)
• Bill Newton (1972 – 1974, Center)
• Darnell Hillman (1971 – 1976, Forward/Center)

On Saturday, May 25, Hoosier Park’s signature race – the $200,000 Dan Patch Invitational – will welcome the top rated horses in North America for its 20th running. The 2013 installment will tout some of the best horses, trainers, and drivers in the sport. Lining up behind the gate will be the likes of North American Cup Winner, Up The Credit, Meadowlands Pace champion, A Rocknroll Dance, and 2012’s Dan Patch victor, Rockin Cam.

Several activities will complement the Dan Patch Invitational pace, including Indiana sire stakes action, property-wide dining specials, and special wagering opportunities. Guests can also take part in Xtreme hot air balloon and helicopter rides over the racetrack. To close out Saturday night’s live racing card, a free fireworks display starts at approximately 10:30 p.m. At the conclusion of the free fireworks display, a Celebrity Driver charity kayak race and the Hoosier Idol All-In grand finale singing competition begins.

Reusing Buildings a Practical Step in Economic Development

Former Indianapolis Mayor Bill Hudnut recently sat down with Gerry Dick of Inside INdiana Business to discuss the effort underway to reuse the GM Stamping Plant downtown.

Reusing facilities is an ongoing challenge — and opportunity — that many Indiana communities are facing. For more on this, see my story in the November/December 2010 edition of BizVoice magazine, highlighting efforts in Connersville, Elkhart, Muncie and Tipton.

Purdue Helps Students Get “World-class” Degrees Near Home

It’s almost graduation time for college students across Indiana. Some of the least heralded gems are those mined right in our local communities, thanks to the Purdue College of Technology Statewide, with 10 locations across Indiana. Students stay home, continue their careers and get a world-class degree they can put to work right in their hometown.

In South Bend, 46 Purdue students will earn their bachelor’s on May 14. Class responder Curtis Damon, a major in industrial technology, paired his classes with a job as associate project engineer for PEI-Genesis in South Bend. And he plans to stay there.

"The College of Technology trains local professionals and young adults on new advanced topics in engineering, quality and design," he explains. "I have personally witnessed many individuals who are not looking for a particular degree but are taking classes for advancement at work and/or for a direct improvement at the workplace they are currently at. The classes in lean manufacturing and production, Six Sigma and inventory management are very straightforward and make it easy to take what you learn and implement it directly into your workplace.

"The College of Technology also allows individuals to stay at home, advance their education and build careers. This is a great benefit to both students and the local businesses in the area. It allows the local community to hire people who are from the area, who are highly educated and motivated to work. You can’t beat hiring individuals who don’t need relocation packages, know the area where they live and the community around them, and have the knowledge and education to help companies succeed."

You can read more about Curtis here. Statewide Technology is an extension of the College of Technology. Its degree programs follow the same curriculum requirements as the programs on the West Lafayette campus. Classes are taught by Purdue faculty or those approved by academic department heads. More than 1,350 students are enrolled at its sites in Anderson, Columbus, Greensburg, Indianapolis, Kokomo, Lafayette, New Albany, Richmond, South Bend and Vincennes. Of those, 53% attend full time.

Jeanne Norberg is a spokesperson for Purdue University.

State Newspapers to Townships: Why are You Still Here?

Fifteen Indiana newspapers are asking that question and providing the evidence that the time for reform is now. For more, visit :

Bloomington Herald-Times: How is your township doing: interactive databases allows you to see how your trustees are doing in filing their state-required paperwork, how much money they’re spending to provide poor relief assistance and how often they are hiring people with the same last name

Former Indiana Supreme Court Justice Ted Boehm says: “Figures on poor relief and fire protection demonstrate that we are operating a system that no one starting with a clean sheet of paper would design.”

The Indianapolis Star: “During a span of two years, the (township) government bankroll grew by $87 million, and 91,983 fewer needy Hoosiers received aid.”

These newspapers are part of the township reform campaign: Anderson Herald Bulletin, Batesville Herald Tribune, Bedford Times-Mail, Bloomington Herald-Times, Evansville Courier & Press, Greensburg Daily News, The Indianapolis Star, Kokomo Tribune, Lafayette Journal & Courier, Martinsville Reporter-Times, Muncie Star Press, Northwest Indiana Times Post-Tribune of Northwest Indiana Richmond Palladium-Item, Rushville Republican

Signals, Transitions and Welcome Mats

The higher education section in the current BizVoice features the in-depth look at increased regional cooperating taking place in Columbus and Richmond, as well as the growth occuring in for-profit or proprietary institutions.

On a bit of the lighter side, we compiled three interesting items into what we call a briefs package. The subjects: Signals for student success at Purdue, an update on the Woodrow Wilson Indiana Teaching Fellowships and an entrepreneurial effort in Anderson — Global Student Solutions — to make life easier for international collegians.

They’re quick, interesting, reads. Let us know about other initiatives we might profile in the future or share your story in this space via the comments section.

Ohio Casinos Will Diminish Indiana Winnings

The fifth time was the charm for supporters of gaming in Ohio. Voters had rejected the approval of casinos in Ohio four times over the last couple decades, but apparently the Buckeye State’s fiscal concerns trumped the opposition as the referendum to allow land-based gambling operations in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo was approved with 53% of the vote in November’s election. Gaming in Ohio will certainly help that state with its revenue problems, but will just as certainly make Indiana’s fiscal picture worse by cutting into our gaming tax revenues.

Indiana currently receives about $250 million dollars a year from three riverboats that are within a short drive of Cincinnati. It is estimated that up to 38% of the riverboat patrons come from out of state. The Hollywood Casino in Lawrenceburg and Grand Victoria Casino & Resort in Rising Sun are just minutes from Cincinnati and could both be seriously impacted by a casino there. The Belterra Casino Resort & Spa in Vevay is a little further down the Ohio River, but likely would also feel the effects.

Additionally, the other casinos could draw away some of the traffic at the already greatly suffering Hoosier Park Racing & Casino in Anderson. All told, Indiana gaming tax revenues could drop by as much as $100 million. These likely future losses to Indiana follow the losses now being experienced at the Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City due to the opening of a new tribal casino last year just across the border in Michigan. In addition, Kentucky could well be the next state to siphon off revenues as the pressure mounts to allow slots at its horse tracks.

Bottom line: As more players enter the game, Indiana’s share of the winnings is sure to diminish.

Sign (Makers) of the Times

Pratt Corporation, an Indianapolis-based company specializing in promotional signs, has added a green component to its business. Pratt, which makes the in-store signage for Lowe’s home improvement stores — among other clients, is now dedicated to using environmentally-friendly practices.

Pratt Corporation has formed an internal green task force to take on the initiative of becoming more eco-friendly. The task force has made great strides in proactively challenging current processes and determining more earth friendly ways to produce. The application of sustainable practices has been implemented throughout the entire facilities and has extended into customer collaboration. Listed below are only a few of the endeavors Pratt is making in this continual effort.

Last August, Pratt became one of the first companies to be certified as a Sustainable Green Printer by the Specialty Graphics Imaging Association (SGIA). The SGIA notes that it created the honor because many companies now prefer to do business with printers and graphic providers that have implemented policies to address social and environmental issues.

Pratt now adheres to green printing policies and has issued a statement of sustainability as well.

Quality Printing, an Anderson-based printing company, also created a guideline for sustainable printing practices, and has recently complemented its efforts by using wind energy to power its manufacturing facility. Read all about the company in the new edition of BizVoice.

States Seek to Batter(y) Up

The competition to be the leader in advanced battery technology is heating up. Indiana, with its recently announced Indiana Energy Systems Network, figures to be a player. The focus at this point is relying on the people and technology that have served the state well in the past in automotive and related industries.

Others are counting on splashier efforts. Texas is reportedly seeking $1 billion from the federal government to construct a lithium ion battery plant. In addition, two Indiana neighbors are also putting their hats in the battery ring.

Michigan is focused on automotive batteries, with various tax credits and incentives geared toward building four manufacturing facilities. Kentucky has a more broad based approach. The state, the universities of Kentucky and Louisville, and Argonne National Laboratory are developing a national research and development center in Lexington. In addition, the National Alliance for Advanced Transportation Batteries (affectionately known as NATTBatt), plans a research, battery plant and headquarters campus 45 miles south of Louisville.

The large scale manufacturing plants seem to be ahead of their time. While the Indiana plan may seem a little slower and safer from afar, it might well prove best in the long run. Wins along the way, such as the addition of Altairnano and its battery productuion efforts in Anderson, could lead to a major victory down the road.

Pillars of Indiana Awarded at Annual Dinner

A heartfelt congrats and thanks to the winners of prestigious awards last night at the Indiana Chamber’s 19th Annual Dinner:

Business Leader of the Year: Tony George, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corp.
George became CEO of the family-owned Indiana Motor Speedway Corporation in 1990 and later founded the Indy Racing League. During his reign over the famous two-and-a-half-mile oval, George has added to the event offerings beyond the famed Indy 500, with NASCAR’s Brickyard 400, a stretch of Formula One races and, just this year, Indianapolis’ first MotoGP. He also led efforts in 2008 to unify open wheel racing under the IndyCar Series, allowing the Indy 500 to remain the cornerstone event. In addition to facilities and events at the Speedway, George and his family oversee Terre Haute-based baking enterprise Clabber Girl. Last year’s winner was Niel Ellerbrook of Vectren. 

Government Leaders of the Year: Former Gov. Joe Kernan and Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Randall Shepard
The bipartisan pair led the seven-member Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform. The effort produced 27 bold recommendations in areas in which Hoosiers could realize better delivery of services and set the stage for Indiana to restructure local government for the benefit of all citizens. Among the suggestions: eliminate township government, realign county government by reducing the number of elected officials and by creating a single county executive for more accountability, increase countywide coordination of the delivery of emergency response services and encourage joint purchasing among school corporations. Last year’s winner was Mayor Graham Richard of Fort Wayne.

Community of the Year: Noblesville
Noblesville saw its population increase from less than 30,000 in 2000 to nearly 40,000 people five years later and with the numbers still on the rise, put together an aggressive plan to supplement its residential growth. An unprecedented 3,600-acre-plus Corporate Campus combines industrial and commercial development – leading to a more diverse tax base and providing job opportunities for community residents – with additional housing opportunities. Downtown is also emphasized, with longtime professional and retail operations joined by a variety of newcomers – all benefiting from city funding devoted to marketing and infrastructure improvements. Last year’s winner was Anderson.