Rochester’s Appraisal Management Research Co. Maximizes Its Chamber Investment Through Helplines

Cook_DavidDavid Cook has called Rochester home since 1989. One year later, he incorporated property tax consulting firm Appraisal Management Research Company (AMRC) — an Indiana Chamber member since 1993.

Its core team of six employees works with a variety of companies. “We’re small, but we accomplish a lot,” remarks Cook, who serves as president.

Remaining informed on state and local laws is critical. He describes how AMRC has benefited from the expertise of Bill Waltz, Indiana Chamber vice president of taxation policy.

“I’ve known Bill for a long time,” Cook shares. “He (on many occasions) would help us keep up-to-date on various changes in the property tax laws.”

In addition, Cook seeks free, confidential guidance on human resources matters by calling the HR Helpline.

“I like to get an opinion,” he asserts. “We do, as necessary, work with an attorney also, but Michelle (Kavanaugh, human resources director at the Chamber) was very helpful in reviewing our personnel policy guidelines and helping us update those. That saves quite a bit of money rather than an attorney doing that. It’s very helpful.”

State Gets More New Tech Schools

DeKalb is the latest Indiana county to bring New Tech curriculum to its school system. The technology-heavy, project-based learning environment has been a unique addition to Indiana schools in the past five years or so. For more, see my stories in BizVoice magazine here and here.

It’s official! In 2012, Northeast Indiana will have six New Tech high schools, the second highest concentration of New Techs in the country after New York City. DeKalb County Central United School District just announced that they have signed their agreement with the New Tech Network to become the sixth New Tech in the region.

New Tech schools focus on project-based learning (PBL), integrated technology, and the development of 21st century skills like oral and written communication, collaboration, leadership, etc. At the conclusion of four years in a New Tech high school, students will have also been exposed to internship opportunities, have received college credits through dual credit courses, and have completed a digital portfolio demonstrating a culmination of learning outcomes over time. Parents, community members and business leaders are also involved in the New Tech model and serve in a variety of capacities such as an advisor/mentor for students or as a critical friend providing feedback on a completed project.

DeKalb Central will spend the 2011-12 school year developing the master plan for their New Tech high school including having district leaders from DeKalb Central attend the New Tech Network Planning Summit to initiate the master planning process. In the fall of 2012, DeKalb Central will open their New Tech high school using the "school within a school" model with a goal of 100 students enrolled for the first year.

"This is an opportunity to transform the learning paradigm in DeKalb Central and engage and empower our students in new and exciting ways," said Dr. Sherry Grate, Superintendent of DeKalb County Central United School District. "We are grateful for the assistance of the Talent Initiative and excited to be a part of their work on a regional level to accelerate education and STEM-focused curriculum."

Keeping a Close Watch on Hoosier Success Stories

The BizVoice magazine team is hard at work on profiles and stories related to the 2011 Indiana Companies to Watch program. That included a Monday trip to Warsaw to conduct a roundtable discussion with the leaders of four of this year’s 43 honorees.

It’s always great to sit down and learn what makes organizations shine. Some (maybe a lot of) passion, willingness to take risks and deep caring for the people within their companies are a few of the common attributes typically seen. And Monday was no exception.

I don’t think the 2011 honorees have been officially released yet. But we gathered in Northern Indiana to bring in business leaders from Fort Wayne, South Bend, Elkhart and Rochester (thanks Sam, Bernie, Gregg and Rex). Three of the companies were formed in the last 11 years, while the fourth goes back to 1984. They may be diverse in their types of work, but similar in the good news their success means for their employees, families and communities.

Here is our 2010 Indiana Companes to Watch coverage in BizVoice. The 2011 edition will debut at the August 25 awards event.