Indiana Would Be Hit Hard by NAFTA Pullout

The U.S. Chamber recently released its analysis of which states would be most harmed from a NAFTA withdrawal.

Unfortunately, Indiana would be among the Top 10 most hard hit states, with more than 250,000 Hoosier jobs put at risk.

On top of that, nearly half of Indiana’s exports are destined for customers in Canada and Mexico, generating more than $16 billion in export revenue. Indiana’s farmers and ranchers would also suffer a blow, particularly those with soybean crops exported to Mexico.

Throwback Thursday: Celebrating the Hickory Huskers in Knightstown

My lovely girlfriend surprised me with an hour-long shoot around at the Hoosier Gym in Knightstown last Saturday. The gym, of course, was the home of the fictional Hickory Huskers in “Hoosiers” (1985) — loosely based on the Milan High School team that won the state title in 1954.

We actually viewed the movie together before driving over to the gym, where we would ultimately compete in a few heated games of HORSE. (And it’s not important who won or lost two out of three — so don’t ask me because it’s a sore subject.)

Because “Hoosiers” is my favorite film, this experience was a long time coming. It’s not only my most beloved movie, mind you, but it also includes my favorite film quote: “My team is on the floor.”

Ah yes, a valuable lesson about principle for young Rade. (Trying to circumvent the four-pass mandate will get you nowhere, my man.)

We were shown around by the gentleman on site, and he told us how producers came to choose the gym largely thanks to the work of Knightstown resident Peg Mayhill, who persistently lobbied the Indiana Film Commission during the selection process.

He also took us down into the locker rooms. I found this intriguing because I’d always assumed they filmed the locker room scenes in another location — one of those trademark Hollywood “tricks.” But no, they were down there basking in all their quaint glory.

The gym’s web site also has more on how the gym was initially built:

In 1920, the Knightstown Community School had no gymnasium. Basketball games were held in Bell’s Hall above Jolly’s Drugstore and in the basement gym of the Presbyterian Church. It was clear: the school needed a gymnasium of its own.

In February of 1921, a half dozen Knightstown businessmen met to discuss the situation. They were aware of the fact that Knightstown was lagging behind other towns in the development of a children’s athletic education and believed that area young people were entitled to physical education.

After much debate, a plan was developed and approved. A new gym would be built. Within weeks, their campaign raised more than $14,400 with donations from more than 250 private citizens and several local businesses. Construction started in the summer of 1921 and the gym was ready for use by December 1921. The first high school basketball game in the gym is believed to have been on November 25, 1921. Final score Knightstown 10, Sulphur Springs 11. The first victory for the Knightstown Falcons came on December 2, 1921 against The Indiana School for the Deaf, winning 20-18 in overtime.

Oh, and as far as you know, I made this free throw (pictured).

PS – For more about the gym, see this interesting post on Hidden Gyms. Additionally, the gym offers group tours and can host events, like family reunions, for a very reasonable price. Just call its office at (800) 668-1895.

For the Sport of It

What’s your favorite Indiana sports movie?

BizVoice recently provided a feature on Indiana’s most notable sports films. Check out the article, and vote for your favorite movie at You can also leave a comment of your own — maybe let us know if there’s another film that should be on the list. For example, I bet folks down in Jefferson County might contend "Madison" should be here somewhere.

Let us know what you think!

Polled Over: Let Us Know Your Thoughts

Sick of polls? Hope not. Because during the legislative session, we’ll post a weekly poll question on our blog (top, right) and try to gauge your thoughts on some of Indiana’s most critical issues.

To kick things off, we’re asking: "There is a proposal to model an Indiana immigration law after the one that has been implemented in Arizona. Do you support that proposal for Indiana?" You can simply vote, or leave a comment regarding the topic as well. As usual, please keep it civil and germane to the topic.

Additionally, we have a question up on the site of BizVoice magazine asking about your favorite Indiana sports movie. This poll complements this article, as well as an upcoming segment on Inside INdiana Business next weekend.

Time Equals Results for Students

Reforms come in various shapes and sizes. For example:

  • Health care reform dominated the headlines in 2009 and early this year. No one is quite sure what we ended up with, although many in business are convinced it’s going to cost a lot of money and more and more John/Jane Q. Publics are not happy with what they’re learning about the government intrusion into their medical doings.
  • Local government reform in Indiana has stalled the last few years because a:) some Hoosiers like the way the system was set up in 1851; b:) politics is taking precedence over policy (imagine that!); c:) the people who prefer the status quo have spoken louder, or at least more effectively, than the proponents for change; or d:) some combination of all of the above.

Today. however, we’re talking education reform and it’s an area in which the overall results are sometimes mixed. (But then almost any reform is an improvement over a status quo that fails far too many young people). But the focus is spending more time on task; in Massachusetts, the official name is a rather straightforward Expanded Learning Time. And ELT is working.

The U.S. trails most other industrialized nations in school days. So Massachusetts has added 300 hours per year in select schools. Included among the results:

  • ELT schools gaining in test results at double the state average in English language arts and math; and at five times the state average in science
  • Broadened opportunities for students, including enrichment programming in a variety of subjects
  • Increased student demand. One Boston middle school went from underenrolled to a waiting list in three years
  • Higher teacher satisfaction
  • Stronger community partnerships

No, you can’t just keep the doors open longer. No one said it is easy. But it does seem to be one of the more common sense reforms that could yield positive results for students of all abilities. Yet, in the Indiana General Assembly, time is spent each session fighting off legislation that would actually shorten the school year.

Maybe it’s no coincidence that Indiana’s local government structure and school day calendar (to meet the needs of students who had to help out on the family farm) were set up around the same time. Both are in need of a serious update. We’ve got to start somewhere — for schools, that might be with more, not less, learning opportunities.

Read Massachusetts’ More Time for Learning: Promising Practices and Lessons Learned.

Freedom Comes With a Big (Tax) Price

Freedom is a good thing. But I’m not sure you, I or others necessarily feel better this week at the opportunity to enjoy Tax Freedom Day for 2010.

According to the Tax Foundation, national Tax Freedom Day is tomorrow — April 9. That means Americans will have worked well over three months of the year  before they have earned enough money to pay this year’s tax obligations at the federal, state and local levels. (Due to different income levels and tax burdens, the Tax Freedom Day for Hoosiers was actually Tuesday).

Tax Freedom Day is one day later than in 2009, but more than two weeks earlier than in 2007. The reasons for the three-year change: recession, temporary tax cuts and several tax repeals. Nevertheless, we will pay more taxes in 2010 than we will spend on food, clothing and shelter combined.
See what I mean; not exactly cause for celebration. The Tax Foundation offer the following facts and figures:

  • Tax Freedom Day does not count the deficit even though deficits must eventually be financed. If Americans were required to pay for all government spending this year, including the $1.3 trillion federal budget deficit, they would be working until May 17 before they had earned enough to pay their taxes – an additional 38 days of work.
  • In 2000, Tax Freedom Day was celebrated May 1, the latest date ever. A string of tax cuts between 2001 and 2003 pushed Tax Freedom Day up by two weeks, so that it fell on April 16 in 2003 – at the time the second earliest Tax Freedom Day since the Johnson administration.
  •  Five major categories of taxes dominate the tax burden. Individual income taxes – including federal, state and local – require 32 days’ work. Payroll taxes take another 25 days’ work. Sales and excise taxes, mostly state and local, take 15 days to pay off. Corporate income taxes take eight days, and property taxes take 12. Americans will log six more days to pay other miscellaneous taxes, most notably including motor vehicle license taxes and severance taxes, and about half a day for estate taxes.
  • Each state has its own Tax Freedom Day. Because of modest incomes and low state and local tax burdens, Alaska and Louisiana celebrate Tax Freedom Day earliest on March 26, the 85th day of the year. Connecticut celebrates last on April 27, the 117th day of the year, because income per capita is higher than in any other state.
  • Tax Freedom Day answers the basic question, “What price is the nation paying for government?” An official government figure for total tax collections is divided by the nation’s total income. The answer this year is that taxes will amount to 26.89 percent of our income, and the stretch of 99 days from January 1 to April 9 is 26.89 percent of the year. Income and tax data are then parsed out to the states, yielding 50 state-specific Tax Freedom Days.

What “Hoosiers” Can Teach Us About Brand Management

In a piece for Advertising Age aptly titled, "Sometimes You Need to Let the Town Drunk Coach the Team," Tom Denari, president of the Indiananpolis-based ad firm Young & Laramore, explains how Angelo Pizzo’s cinematic masterpiece (a.k.a. "the best movie ever made" in this critic’s opinion) can help you manage your brand. The advice is timely and quite creative. Here’s a 20-second timeout’s worth, but I’d advise you read the whole thing:

Work on the boring stuff, like defense and ball handling, first. When Coach Norman Dale arrived at Hickory High, he didn’t just roll out the ball and start scrimmaging. Instead, he wanted to see what kind of talent he really had, and then he worked his players tirelessly on the basics of the game to ensure their fundamentals were sound. Dribbling around chairs and doing defensive drills wasn’t fun for his players, but these basics had to be sharp before they’d be ready to play a game.

Too often, new CMOs want a quick fix, thinking a new campaign or a new ad agency will solve everything. They choose to jump into the most outward demonstration of change — the advertising and communications plan. While it’s the easiest aspect to adjust, a new campaign will make the least amount of difference if your brand’s fundamentals aren’t right.

Before you change your campaign, ask yourself a few questions. Can you easily state your brand’s promise? Is your brand’s product offering deficient in any way? Is your pricing appropriate? Does your service model support what your brand stands for? Until these basics are tended to, the communications part of the equation is meaningless. Too often, we forget that brands are more about the consumer’s experience with a product than the ad campaign that tries to sell it. One of the best examples of a company that gets this is Zappos, which is completely focused on the unglamorous, hard work of getting its service model right. Making sure that its service is consistent at every consumer touchpoint has paid big dividends beyond any ad campaign it could have produced.

Sit the player that doesn’t follow the game plan. During Hickory’s opening night of the season, Coach Dale yanked star player Rave out of the game, even though he was making one-handed set shots one after another. Why? Because Rave wanted to play fast and loose, ignoring his coach’s game plan of passing five times before shooting. Despite Rave’s early scoring, his coach knew that instilling discipline and sacrificing short-term gains would lead to team success later.

Especially given the current environment, exercising discipline is difficult. What are you doing in the name of short-term results that you’ll regret later? Are you selling a product that doesn’t fit your brand promise? Are you discounting to the point that it’s mortgaging your brand strength? Don’t forget that a brand is not static — it’s either getting stronger or weaker. Which direction is yours headed?

Hoosierland in Hollywood

Following the attention gained from the summer hit "Public Enemies" and classics such as "Hoosiers" and "A Christmas Story," it seems the Hoosier state may once again serve as an appropriate setting for a film. No details as yet, but if you have — or know of — a useful site, you might contact the state:

Film Indiana and Hickory Pictures will be conducting a statewide search for isolated, undisturbed, privately owned or public lands possessing an early frontier atmosphere to be considered for locations in an upcoming Hollywood family movie to be filmed in Indiana.

Hickory Pictures is particularly interested in properties possessing the following qualities:

Vast and heavily timbered old growth forests containing hardwoods, especially Oakwood, Dogwoods, Hickory, Elm and Maple trees, spacious prairies and meadows with tall grasses and un-manicured topography, lands containing a small creek, an area possessing deep ravines, hollows and caves, under a canopy of trees, access to a large river, such as the Ohio River, where the nature of the riverbanks has been virtually uninterrupted. Other enchanting locations appropriate for the time period interested participants should submit pictures of their property, a description and contact information to Erin Newell of Film Indiana ([email protected]) or to the following address:

Attn: Erin Newell
Film Indiana/IEDC
One North Capitol Ave., Suite 700
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204

While details of the project and its filmmakers are being kept confidential during the development process, Erin Newell, director of Film Indiana, said, "We are excited to be working with these highly regarded filmmakers and feel this project is an incredible opportunity for Indiana to show all that we have to offer the film industry and all that it can do for our state."

NOTE: Speaking of the Hoosier/Hollywood connection, my girlfriend and I saw Indiana actor Vincent Ventresca at Steak ‘n Shake on Keystone Ave. in Indianapolis a few weeks ago. (He’s probably best known to many as "Fun Bobby" from TV’s "Friends.") Exciting stuff.

Letters to Our Leaders: Get Along or Get Out

OK, maybe the headline is a little harsh. But the meaning cannot be downplayed.

The final installment in the Chamber’s Letters to Our Leaders campaign calls for bipartisanship. That’s a big, 14-letter word for a) work together; b) leave the politics at the door; and c) Hoosiers are tired of political games getting in the way of substantial progress.

Indiana ‘s economy is performing strongly compared to its Midwest neighbors and many others around the country. It’s almost as if that is taking place in spite of some of our government efforts. Too many potential education, workforce training and other policy improvements go by the wayside because one party doesn’t want the other taking credit.

The Chamber letter and video summary says Hoosiers have had enough. Once the election is over, put aside the party labels, do what you were "hired" to do by the voters and everyone will benefit.