Everyone Needs a Vision… Including Indiana

Indiana Vision 2025 is hitting the road. If you’re not already familiar with Indiana Vision 2025, it’s a long-range economic development plan for the state, a follow-up to the successful Indiana Chamber-led Economic Vision 2010 initiative.

Where is the road leading? In the next three weeks, to regional forums in Merrillville, Fort Wayne, Sellersburg, Evansville and Indianapolis. Approximately 40 business, community, government, non-profit and education leaders in each area will learn about the plan and, more importantly, share their own regional challenges and opportunities. Many areas of common ground are expected.

The mission statement reads: "Indiana will be a global leader in innovation and economic opportunity where enterprises and citizens prosper." Initiatives are grouped under four driver areas: Outstanding Talent, Attractive Business Climate, Superior Infrastructure, and Dynamic and Creative Culture.

Indiana Vision 2025 was developed over the course of 18 months by a 24-person task force of statewide leaders. The Indiana Chamber is coordinating, working with a number of other organizations. The focus now is to gather widespread support and begin the work toward enacting as many of the goals as possible for the benefit of as many Hoosiers as possible.

Check out the current version of the full plan and ask yourself one question: What can I do to help make Indiana the absolute best it can be?

Brinegar Touts Northwest Indiana Strengths in Merrillville

Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar visited the beautiful Centier Centre in Merrillville Wednesday to discuss economic conditions in Northwest Indiana. Ryan McCormick of the popular web site ValpoLife.com writes:

"I think the position that [Northwest Indiana] is in is comparatively stronger financially and that the quality of the workforce is stronger as well," said Brinegar.

Indiana has the highest number of manufacturing employees out of any state and a large number of them are right here in our own region. Brinegar also shared about Economic Vision 2010, which was created in 2000 in order to set a number of goals or drivers Indiana should be shooting for. "Tremendous success", as noted by Brinegar, has been seen through this initiative thanks to the help of the Chamber and its coalition partners. The notable advancements have been the historic 2002 tax restructuring, improved education standards and 2003 economic development initiatives.

"It’s really a quality of life issue," comments Brinegar. "[Because of the completed initiatives], we are more competitive and are a better place for jobs in Indiana."

A similar document will soon be revealed for goals and initiatives to be met in 2025. Its expected completion is by the summer of 2011.

Lunch With Brinegar: Coming to a Town Near You

Don’t miss your chance to listen, learn and communicate with the president of the state’s leading broad-based business association. At our Lunch with Brinegar stops around the state, Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar updates area business leaders on issues impacting your region, introduces Chamber programs and services that benefit your bottom line and answers your questions. Registration is FREE for Indiana Chamber members; $19 per person for non-members, and the events take place from 11:30- a.m.-1:00 p.m. local time.

RSVP: One of three ways
1. Our web site
2. E-mail [email protected]
3. Call Tom James, (317) 264-3793

Here are the locations currently on the schedule. Hope to see you there!

  • June 9 – Indianapolis (Conseco Fieldhouse)
  • June 30 – South Bend (1st Source Corporation)
  • July 7 – Terre Haute (Hulman Memorial Student Union)
  • August 4 – Muncie (Minnetrista Cultural Center)  
  • August 9 – Bloomington (Fountain Square Ballroom)
  • August 18 – Fort Wayne (Sycamore Hills Golf Club) 
  • September 8 – Merrillville (Centier Centre)

Hospitality at a Whole New Level at Purdue Calumet

In the season of giving, Purdue University Calumet is the grateful recipient of the largest monetary gift it has ever received.

The Dean & Barbara White Family Foundation and the Bruce & Beth White Family Foundation announced a $5 million contribution to benefit the university’s hospitality and tourism management program. The gift will be used to enhance the undergraduate efforts and will be renamed the Purdue University Calumet White Lodging Center for Hospitality and Tourism Management program.

Indiana Chamber member White Lodging Services is “one of the fastest-growing, fully-integrated independent hotel ownership, development and management companies in the country,” according to the company’s web site. Based in Merrillville, White Lodging’s current projects include the JW Marriott Indianapolis among other hotels in Indiana and across the nation.

The gift will fund renovation and conversion of the university’s conference center into a nearly 13,000-square-foot instructional facility. It will also support a scholarship fund for high-performing students and create a hospitality and tourism management honors program. The rest of the funding will establish two endowed professorships within the program.

“We have been fortunate to employ many Purdue Calumet students and graduates and have found them to be well prepared, ambitious and steady contributors to our company’s growth and success,” White Lodging Services Chairman and CEO Bruce White said in the press release. “We hope to build and grow on that relationship by providing these expanded facilities and even greater faculty support.”

The renovated educational facilities will include a teaching kitchen, beverage service laboratory, working restaurant, computer labs and faculty offices, the release notes. Planning for the new center will begin in early 2010 with construction and renovations to start in the summer. The center is expected to be completed for the 2011-2012 school year. Read the full press release online.

Lunch, Listen and Learn: Big Names on Economic Club Lineup

One venue, nine top-notch speakers. Congratulations to the Economic Club of Indiana program committee for putting together a very intriguing lineup for the 2009-2010 season.

A strong mix of Indiana leaders (Angela Braly, WellPoint, and Thomas Snyder, Ivy Tech Community College); former Hoosiers coming home (C-SPAN founder Brian Lamb and school reformer Kevin Chavous); more media giants (Steve Forbes, John Stossel and Gwen Ifill); and leaders in business (Patrick Michael Byrne of Overstock.com) and education/politics (Harvard economics professor Martin Feldstein).

All will be at the Indiana Convention Center for the monthly luncheon programs, starting with Braly on September 1. Not familiar with the Economic Club, an Indiana fixture for 35 years? Check out this excerpt from the organization’s 25th anniversary for some history on how it all got started and some of the big events over the years.

Fort Wayne area leaders, we’re not forgetting about you. John Norquist, former Milwaukee mayor and urban design/school reform authority, comes your way on August 28 to wrap up the inagaural summer series. Merrillville and Evansville enjoyed earlier visits from Scott Hodge (Tax Foundation) and Jim Morris (Pacers Sports and Entertainment and longtime civic leader), respectively.

Check out some or all of the upcoming events. Thought-provoking presentations are assured.

Brownsburg, St. John, Others Honored by CNNMoney

In CNNMoney.com’s 2009 list of Best Places to Live for small(ish) towns, the top 50 featured two Hoosier burgs — Brownsburg (33rd) and St. John (48th).

Also noteworthy, in a ranking of the Most Affordable Cities (using the criteria, "Residents who buy real estate in these towns from the Best Places database see their incomes go the furthest"), Indiana placed five cities/towns in the top 25. They are:

2. New Haven – $89,152 (median home price in 2008)
7. Brownsburg – $131,000
10. Noblesville – $150,000
24. Plainfield – $126,000
25. Merrillville – $122,309

Check out the list here.

Hat tip to Inside INdiana Business.

Juan Williams Discusses Rise of the American Woman, Changing Culture at Economic Club Lunch

Juan Williams, a veteran journalist now known best for his roles with National Public Radio and Fox News, addressed nearly 700 in attendance at today’s Economic Club of Indiana luncheon in downtown Indianapolis.

Williams, known mostly for his political prowess, delved into the topic of culture and outlined some key points that Americans must recognize as the nation moves forward. For one, he says the growing American population will change the way we interact in the future.

"Right now, the U.S. has over 300 million people — but in 10 years, we’ll have over 400 million," he says. Williams adds that is largely due to the booming growth rates of immigrants.

He also offers some surprise at the increasing power of women in America. While researching for a story on American teens in Minneapolis, he asked a longtime teacher’s aide what was the greatest difference between the 1960s and today. She then explained that out of the very best students, 8 out of 10 were girls, and 5 out of 10 of the best athletes were girls, as well (based on who was likely to compete at a Division I NCAA level).

"Women are now the majority in American graduate programs," Williams adds. "And when John McCain needed help (during the 2008 presidential election), he got Sarah Palin."

He adds there are 16 female U.S. Senators and one-fourth of Congress is female, noting the power of Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton.

Williams also discussed the rise of political polarization (explaining only 24% of Republicans support the job Pres. Obama is doing versus 88% of Democrats), and is concerned the deterioration of newspapers will only contribute to that as Americans look to media sources that simply validate their previously held opinions.

The Economic Club of Indiana lunch series will head to Merrillville, Evansville and Fort Wayne this summer. Check the web site for details.

Economic Club Hits the Road, Bringing Speakers to More Indiana Cities

The Economic Club is pleased to announce a series of presentations throughout Indiana during the summer months of 2009. These events, dubbed the "Economic Club Summer Series," will feature the same high-quality speakers that the regular season events have become known for.

"We are very excited to be bringing the (Economic) Club, in a physical sense, to other parts of the state," comments Steve Walker, president of the Economic Club.

An arrangement allowing WFYI to produce statewide broadcasts of current presentations has helped generate a great deal of interest outside of Indianapolis over the past two seasons. Hosting events in other cities is part of the continuing effort to bring the Economic Club to all Hoosiers.  

The first stop on the 2009 Summer Series tour is set for June 9 in Merrillville — featuring tax policy expert and nationally published opinion leader Scott Hodge. Indiana Pacers president Jim Morris will be the keynote speaker for a July 14 event in Evansville, and Fort Wayne will play host in August. Details for the August event and other specifics are still being finalized but will be announced soon.   

Current sponsors for the 2009 Summer Series include Ivy Tech, ProLiance Energy, Franklin College, Schmidt Associates and ESW Inc. Speaker’s Reception sponsors include NIPSCO – June; Old National, Regency Commercial Associates – July.

A variety of sponsorship opportunities remain. Contact Jim Wagner for details at [email protected].

Economy Swats Away Gary Hoops Team’s Season

Dear Economy, this is Indiana — do NOT mess with our basketball.

You know times are tough when a sports team has to cancel its season because of the economy. The Gary Steelheads of the International Basketball League won’t be playing this year due to the impact of the region’s — and the nation’s — financial trials. The team plays in the 8,000-seat Gary Genesis Center, where average attendance was about 1,500 last season. The Times of Northwest Indiana has the story:

That’s fair to say," said attorney Jewell Harris Jr., the Steelheads’ chief operations officer. "We don’t want to field a minor league team in this economic climate. It’s just not feasible.

"People are concerned about paying their bills every month and not buying a season-ticket package or a sponsorship of the team. And with the way minor league basketball is structured, it’s not difficult for us to sit out a season and come back. We wouldn’t lose anything by doing that."

The eight-year-old Gary franchise, plagued by financial woes since its inception, originally competed in the CBA and then the ill-fated USBL before signing on with the IBL last season.

Hopefully the Steelheads can rebound after this year to provide on-court entertainment for the good people of northwest Indiana.

Hat tip to Inside INdiana Business.

Centier Centre a True Centerpiece

Company president and CEO Mike Schrage says it’s a circlet. Some call it a crown. All can agree that the 27-foot-high, 54,000-pound "beacon to the world" above the new, five-story Centier Bank corporate headquarters in Merrillville tops off an amazing structure.

For those traveling north on Interstate 65, you won’t miss it — during the day or at night. But the circlet definitely lights up the sky in the evening hours. The new Centier home was officially dedicated with a reception Thursday evening, topped off by a fireworks display.

As impressive as the building is on the outside, it’s what’s taking place inside the nearly 1,400 glass panels that is the true story. The 113-year-old, family-owned bank features more than 40 locations in four counties. It is a community and business partner throughout northern and Northwest Indiana.

Employees got a first look on Wednesday at the expansive learning/training facilities, fitness center, cafe and more that was constructed with their needs in mind. Centier has been a top 10 finisher the last two years in the Best Places to Work in Indiana program (I was happy to talk briefly about the company’s honors; see a BizVoice story from 2007). It’s easy to see why.

Congratulations to everyone at Centier — a shining example of a continuing Indiana business success story.