Check Out Indiana’s Winter Delights

Do you have room in your holiday calendars for a few wintry Indiana activities? Maybe you’re in need of something to entertain your children over winter break, or you’re in search of fun activities to get yourself in the holiday spirit.

We’re enjoying fairly mild weather now, but there are plenty of activities in Indiana to explore whether the weather is great – or frightful. If you’ve got time in December to get out and enjoy some sights and sounds of the season, here are a few things central Indiana has to offer:

  • Festival of Trees: The Indiana Historical Society has 80 Christmas trees decked out in Hoosier-related flair through January 6. Dates, times and ticket prices are available here. You can also check out the Indiana Experience while you’re there.
  • Lights at the Brickyard: What’s more Hoosier than the Indianapolis Motor Speedway? Take a drive around the oval and cross over the yard of bricks while you take in over 2.5 million twinkling lights (set to music, if you choose). This year’s expanded route is more than two miles long. Be patient on the weekends for long lines, but weeknights experience typically lighter traffic. Get tickets and times.
  • Christmas at the Zoo: Another Indianapolis staple, Christmas at the Zoo features the animals that don’t mind the cold and lights throughout the property. Get tickets online.
  • Jingle Rails at the Eiteljorg: If model trains are your thing, this is the place to be. Nine working model trains zip past Indiana landmarks and then out west to some of America’s natural and man-made wonders. New this year is a model train trip to Hollywood. The event runs through January 15. Tickets and dates available here.
  • L.S. Ayres Tea Room: Though L.S. Ayres department store closed downtown in 1990, the Indiana State Museum has recreated the famed L.S. Ayres Tea Room as a restaurant with a heaping side of nostalgia for those that recall dining in the original. It’s impressive – the ambiance and lighted windows give the feel of being on the eighth floor of the department store. The tea room is open through January 7 and includes special events such as Santa’s Holiday Breakfasts and Tea with Raggedy Ann.
  • Polar Bear Express: Put on by the Indiana Transportation Museum, the Polar Bear Express train ride departs from Kokomo or Logansport and features an approximately 75-minute trip, complete with candy canes, hot cocoa, a holiday story read aloud and, of course, visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus. Tickets are $35 per person (kids too) and reservations are required.
  • Veal Family Ice Tree – For several years, my family lived near Shelbyville and when we’d drive on Interstate 74, my brother and I would always keep an eye out for the colorful ice tree that peaked out among the foliage. That’s the Veal Family Ice Tree! While this one is definitely off the beaten path, it’s a nostalgic place for many. The ice tree typically takes shape in January and is melted by March. This one is, of course, dependent on the weather. So, if you’re one of those that loves a freezing winter, take advantage of a Hoosier original! Check their Facebook page for updates.

We know there are many more things to do in Indiana during the winter months than what we have highlighted here. Did we miss one you love? Let us know in the comments! What do you enjoy doing this time of the year?

Christmastime in Indiana

Rev(ving) Up the Month of May

????????????????????????May is always a special time in Central Indiana (and for many throughout the state) with the Indianapolis 500 and its surrounding activities.

One of the more recent additions to the itinerary is Rev,a high-energy charity event on May 2. What makes Rev (in its second year and presented by Fifth Third Bank) unique? It benefits a relationship between the racing community and IU Health Methodist Hospital that goes back more than 100 years.

From the hospital’s first motorized ambulance in 1910, to the first liftoff of its LifeLine helicopter in 1970, to today, IU Health Methodist Hospital and the IMS have worked together to promote the safety of racecar drivers and Hoosiers alike. Rev is a celebration of the continued partnership between these influential Indianapolis institutions.

Dine on driver-inspired cuisine prepared by Indy’s top chefs and enjoy a variety of music and entertainment while mingling with IndyCar drivers and racing legends. Experience a behind the scenes look at the yard of bricks, the acclaimed Borg-Warner trophy and Victory Podium and enjoy photo opportunities with Indianapolis’s finest vintage cars.

Funds raised will support Indiana University Health statewide trauma programs including medical services for drivers and patrons at the IU Health Emergency Medical Center of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

A limited number of premiere tickets remain available.

IBJ: Changes at Speedway Help Businesses, Bottom Line

The Indianapolis Business Journal’s blog, The Score, posted an interesting piece today, contending the many changes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway have things moving in the right direction. Among those, its focus on giving more value and opportunity to its corporate partners is targeted as a momentum shifter. What’s more, it mentions that our former chairman, Andre Lacy, is now playing a prominent role on the Speedway’s board.

We’re excited to see IMS racing toward a bright future — not just because it’s an Indiana Chamber member, but because it’s such an instrumental figure in the history and future of our great state. IBJ writes:

Tony George is no longer head of the operation. But he is on the board. This is a board that has in recent years decided to significantly expand itself beyond familial borders.

Shortly after George was replaced by Belskus in 2009, several board members were added to the mix, notably LDI Chairman Andre B. Lacy and former Anthem Chief Financial Officer Michael L. Smith. Before that move, the board was largely run by Mari Hulman George, her three daughters, and son, Tony.

Indiana Pacers President Jim Morris and Central Indiana Corporate Partnership CEO Mark Miles, who chaired the 2012 Super Bowl Host Committee and is former CEO of the ATP Tour, were added this year, as was Belskus.

When I asked Lacy why he had been added to the board overseeing the Speedway, he deadpanned: “Everybody needs a boss.”

It was clear, the inner circle had been broadened by a new thinking—and a new level of checks and balances.

At first, Belskus seemed awkward in public and uncomfortable with the media. Quickly it became apparent he was serious about following the new board’s primary objectives: Cut expenses and raise revenue…

Last year, Belskus hung corporate signage along pit lane. This year, he made the bold move to sell wall space in turns three and four to Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka and Shell Oil Co. It was the first time such ads were hung at the Brickyard.

Also this year, NTB, a national car service and retail outlet, will have signage in the grass at turn one and signage will be hung on the back of existing video boards. Also firsts at the vaunted Speedway.

IMS’ opening up of areas previously off-limits to advertisers has created a swell of interest among marketers. In addition to Fuzzy’s, Speedway officials signed new deals this year with Continental Tire, Nissan, Visit Florida, First National Bank of Omaha, 5-Hour Energy, Farmers Insurance, Nationwide and Banana Boat.

Belskus told IBJ he expects a strong double-digit increase in sponsorship sales this May at the track and a possible 10-percent plus increase in total revenue for this year’s Indianapolis 500 over last year.

IMS Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Mike Redlick said “there’s been a change in philosophy” at the track. At the heart of the change, said Speedway executives, is creating an event that is more friendly toward the track’s corporate partners.

Join Us at the Speedway!

Question: What beats a free day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May during the middle of the work week?

Answer: A free day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May during the middle of the work week with a free lunch.

The Indiana Chamber’s Lunch with Brinegar roadshow program makes its first stop of the year at the IMS on Wednesday, May 16. Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar will provide an overview of this year’s Indiana General Assembly, an update on membership benefits and insight into this year’s elections. The event will also provide you with a great opportunity to network with other members. The lunch takes place from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.  After the program, you will have access to Gasoline Alley and the IMS grounds to enjoy the day.

The event takes place in the muddy snake pit, so dress accordingly. And, sorry, Jim Nabors will not be singing at this event because he refused Kevin’s offer to sing "Back Home Again" in Indiana as a duet. (Yes, you will be forced to drink milk at the lunch program.)

Also, the only “new track record” we’ll experience is my numerous failing attempts to make as many bad business/Indy 500 jokes as possible during my five minute presentation. But we hope you will join us to learn more about your membership and to enjoy one of the greatest sporting venues in the world!

Members may attend the event at no cost; please RSVP to Lauren Creamer at [email protected]. The fee for non-members is $50.

Race Over to IMS for the Indiana Logistics Summit

You don’t think about it, but you’d sure notice if it were missing. Grocery stores would be empty, there would be no new clothes hanging from the racks at your favorite department store. Supplies for new buildings and construction projects? Nope. Those would be gone too.

The management of moving goods – also known as logistics – happens all around us, and typically without Americans realizing that it’s occurring. While you might not notice every semi-trailer on the road or plane overhead, as soon as you didn’t have the goods you wanted, the lack of those things would be much more obvious.

So, to shine some light on and celebrate the logistics, transportation and distribution industries, the Indiana Logistics Summit will take place October 12-13 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS). 

Co-hosted by Purdue University and the Ports of Indiana, the summit is bringing together 20 top logistics experts and CEOs to discuss how logistics, distribution and transportation affect the country and Indiana.

The event will also highlight the 100th anniversary of the first Indianapolis 500, as well as the 50th anniversary of the Ports of Indiana, with special events occurring throughout the two-day summit to honor those anniversaries.

Event highlights include:

  • Hall of Fame Museum reception with bus tours around the IMS track, and a special presentation by Speedway historian Donald Davidson 
  • Keynote addresses by Gary LaGrange, president of the Port of New Orleans, and Derek J. Leathers, president of Werner Enterprises 
  • A major clean energy announcement about the sixth largest United States truck fleet, Republic Services;
  • A presentation by John Vickerman on the state of logistics in America
  • A Super Bowl update from Super Bowl Committee Vice Chair Cathy Langham.

Learn more online.

Packing a Powerful Lineup

I received a visit in early 2008 from Terry McWilliams, founder of a Louisville area-based investor relations firm. After conducting a successful equity/investment conference in his home state, he was looking to bring the idea to Indiana. The initial event did take place that fall at the then recently opened Lucas Oil Stadium.

Terry and a team of supporters are back in 2010 with a strong list of Hoosier companies that are going to talk about their performance and their future plans. The primary audience: analysts, fund managers and institutional investors. And, as Terry explained in a recent e-mail, the people who can benefit the most are "those with companies that plan to go public, as they can witness the investor commuications process from a front row seat."

You can check out the details of the September 9 event (at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this time around). It’s certainly a bit of a niche audience/event, but anytime you can get the likes of the following in one place to talk about their organizations, that’s a good thing — and an insight into our immediate and longer-term economic future from some executives who are at center stage of the battle.

Big names: Eli Lilly, Cummins, Steel Dynamics, NiSource, Zimmer, Hillenbrand, Interactive Intelligence, a variety of banks and more. Michael Oxley, co-author of the Sarbanes Oxley Act, will deliver a keynote presentation.

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.

Indiana Chamber Makes Pit Stop at Indy Motor Speedway

We call it "Breakfast with Brinegar," but for this first time event at the world’s most famous racing facility, we just might call it "Bacon at the Brickyard" for a day. Local Indiana Chamber members are encouraged to join us Tuesday, May 13, from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. Joie Chitwood, President of the IMS, will speak briefly about the excitement of this year’s Indianapolis 500. With the IRL and Champ Car merger, along with Danica Patrick’s first IRL win, the buzz is as hot as ever regarding the 2.5 mile oval. Kevin Brinegar, president of the Indiana Chamber, will discuss Chamber programs and services and you will have an opportunity to network with other Indiana Chamber members. A Q&A session will be held for Kevin, as well. 

The breakfast is free for Indiana Chamber members and $19 for non-members. Please contact Abby Hamilton at (317) 264-3793 or [email protected] to RSVP for this fun and educational event.
 
Sounds like a great way to start a Spring day in the month of May in Indianapolis. You may even be lucky enough to bump into A.J., Mario or Little Al. But I promise you won’t have to listen to me sing "Back Home Again in Indiana."