Breaking News: A Paradigm Shift

Breaking News: A Paradigm Shift


Tech firm moving HQ from Silicon Valley to Carmel - IBJ June 13, 2016

Indy lands another big-time digital marketing headquarters - Indy Star August 3, 2015

Indianapolis named one of 'America's most underrated cities for Millennials' – WTHR July 27, 2015

Indianapolis: The Midwest's Silicon Valley - OMMA Magazine July 12, 2011

Direct flights from Indianapolis (IND) to San Jose - Silicon Valley (QSF) $368.20 Roundtrip- Orbitz November 9, 2016 (68 flights leaving November 23, 2016)

It looks like the writings on the wall.

So, what exactly do these headlines mean to Madison County? I suppose nothing if you don’t think Madison County has anything to gain from all this growth.

Or perhaps you are thinking that Madison County could just ride the coat tails of our southern communities and hope the inertia eventually creeps past our boarders. Yes, but the term “Slower than molasses in January” comes to mind. After all, how long have those communities been growing and flourishing?

What if I told you that Madison County could really really capitalize on what has been happening in the Indy area? Think of it. Progress and growth has been knocking on our front door since before property values jumped in Fishers, Carmel, and Noblesville. Maybe it is time for Madison County to wake up and smell the coffee brewing at the downtown Anderson Coffee Shop. Oh, wait, we don’t have a coffee shop downtown.

Madison County needs a huge paradigm shift in the way they do business. It is starting to happen and I’ll explain that in a little bit.

Could Madison County take the initiative and look for opportunities to take advantage of Indy’s growth right now? Yes, but that would take planning, work and a huge change in perception, values and commitment to make it happen.

Here is what I mean. Take a look at the third headline. The one that mentions Millennials. Millennials are the generation after Gen Y, Gen X, and Baby Boomer. Millennials are the ones entering the workforce now and they are not your average employee or entrepreneur. Jack Schultz, author, CEO of Agracel Inc. and founder of the Boomtown Institute defines a Millennial as, “those generally born between 1980 and 2000, dwarfs the GenXers in size. These young people are going to be the most entrepreneurial in the history of the United States. I’m finding incredible examples of what these young people are already doing. Communities need to be retaining and recruiting the Millennials.

Let’s focus on that last sentence. “Communities need to be retaining and recruiting the Millennials.”

That’s the key. That is the paradigm shift.

And, Madison County has the best opportunity to grow and provide a home for new Millennials but more importantly, keep the ones we have. In fact, the Madison County Chamber has taken the first steps in the process. They have rebranded the Young Professionals into HYPE 48. HYPE48 is an acronym for Helping Young Professionals Engage in 48. 48 is the county number assigned to Madison by the state.

HYPE48 is spearheaded by Alex Byers, Digital Marketing Specialist at Element 212, and Shane Bivens, Serial Entrepreneur and Founder of Vesuvius Co-Working. Together they have a vision of HYPE48 rocketing beyond the typical Young Professional group normally associated with the Chamber of Commerce. Byers and Bivens are creating an environment built around the ideas of building community, collaboration, sustainability, openness, and accessibility.

Byers and Bivens are typical examples of Millennials. Here is how they describe Millennials:

Millennials like to be engaged in their community, they want to see their own back yard grow and prosper. Madison County needs to recognize their passion for the neighborhoods in which they reside. By doing this, a place can be created where young professionals want to move to and create a community where they can grow, both personally and professionally. This also helps to keep the ones that are already here.

Guess what? Millennials civically engage with political and cause-based initiatives and believe these activities can make an impact. In other words, Millennials believe they can make a difference and make an impact where they live.

Jack Schultz describes the Millennial entrepreneur:

“Non-PMS Entrepreneurs and Leaders – The traditional “Pale, Male and Stale” entrepreneurs and leaders are being supplanted by females, minorities, immigrants and others. This trend will explode with the Millennial generation, the most entrepreneurial and tolerant generation in the history of the United States. Communities need to appreciate and use the full potential of every citizen.”

Hype48 is going to play a huge role in channeling this passion by connecting their individual optimism and entrepreneurial spirit into one vibrant group. Through this organic growth, businesses will start and grow as the members discover how they can fulfill the needs and wants of their community and find everything they want in their own back yard.

Don’t bring your business cards to a HYPE48 meeting.

Young professionals do not want to be bothered with the typical meet and greet networking. HYPE48 members are more in tune with what they have in common with each other outside of the work place. When they meet they are more apt to compare notes on wine tasting then the work flow and capacity of their business. Oh, don’t think it is all fun and games. This relationship building is more likely to build stronger work relationships. Members are more apt to do business with someone they know, like and trust.

Bivens has seen first-hand how other communities develop into thriving places by attracting and keeping Millennials. Coupled with the potential of what Madison County has to offer and the passion Millennials have, he sees amazing opportunities for growth and new businesses.  Businesses like that coffee shop in downtown Anderson that I mentioned earlier, along with brewpubs, bakeries, boutiques, and a slew of new sustainable businesses will start because that it what it takes to keep a Millennial around.

Early Childhood Care In Madison County


This is the first of a new series of articles from the Madison County Chamber.  The purpose is to bring to you brief perspectives on a range of issues outside the central functions of the Chamber, primarily larger social issues tied to the vital role of the business community as corporate citizen.

This first PRIMEIME installment asks you to consider  the issue of Early Childhood Education in Madison County and the vital need for fund development, policy development, and program support from business and all sectors of our community. According to a 2010 U.S. Chamber of Commerce report, “To keep America competitive and strong, the business community must be actively engaged on issues related to our nation’s educational system as a means to ensure an educated citizenry of self-sufficient, lifelong learners who have the skills needed to thrive in the global workplace, today and in the future.”

The U.S. Chamber report goes on to underscore the importance of early childhood education and the need for children’s access to high quality programs that include a strong family engagement component, academic preparation, strong accountability measures,  and high quality standards.  With these factors in mind, then, how are we doing in Madison County?  Well, meet ALICE.

ALICE (Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed) focuses on social and financial issues related to  households above the federal poverty guidelines ($23,000 annual income for a family of four), but less than what is needed to meet basic needs. For this group of working families, for example, rainy day savings are impossible because they spend every penny on survival.  Few have liquid assets of any type. As of 2014 in Madison County, 21% of our 52,650 households were ALICE.  Another 16% were living at or below federal poverty guidelines.  Statewide, fewer than 4% of four-year olds are enrolled in state-funded pre-K programs, and thousand of these children are on lottery system waiting lists.  These few statistics do not bode well for the future of our state, or for Madison County.

And so, what can the business community do to help?

First, there is an opportunity to provide financial help to local public or private quality pre-K programs.  Second, the United Way of Madison County is an ardent supporter of the maintenance and expansion of such programs, but scarcely has the resources to fully meet the demand. The national Chamber recommends that business use its influence and voice at the policy level.  The lottery system that has thousands of pre-K children waiting in line, for example, needs to be fixed.  Although Hoosiers generally support quality pre-K programs for all children, our state legislators need to hear from the business community on the issue.  Obviously, this is not meant to discourage support of specific local programs, or to our great United Way.  Rather, it is intended to help Madison County and our state meet the demand at the massive level at which the demand presents itself.

The investment in our children is an investment in our future, and it’s personal, too.  After all, as someone once said, a high-spirited tri-cyclist is a terrible thing to waste.

Primus Mootry

Primus Mootry is a weekly columnist for The Anderson Herald Bulletin and chairman of the board of  The Anderson Impact Center.

A New Alexandria Rises














The Mercantile: New look, new name

“A lot of millennials don’t believe rural America is a good fit for them. They couldn’t be more wrong,” said  Warren Brown, Director of Economic Development in Alexandria, Indiana. There is excitement in his voice because of two forward-moving projects which will literally change the landscape of that city.

New life is being breathed into a vacant three-story downtown building which formerly housed Cox Supermarket for more than seven decades.  Milestone Ventures Inc., a development firm headquartered in Indianapolis, will begin interior demolition of the building in early November with plans to locate 20 apartments on the second and third floors. The new housing is expected to be completed within a year.

This multi-faceted project, dubbed The Mercantile, includes plans for a much-needed grocery in the building’s ground level. While there is not yet a signed contract, Brown said serious negotiations are underway with more than one grocer. He anticipates a November 2017 opening for the public.  It will fill a gap in food services that are needed to support the population of the community. Currently the Harvest Market is the only grocer in town to serve Alexandria’s population of just under 5,100.

In addition to the planned renovations to the building, three duplexes are already under construction in the back corner of the parking lot and are slated to open during the first half of 2017.

Similar projects for neighborhood stabilization have taken place in large cities such as Chicago or NYC, but The Mercantile project is unique for a city the size of Alexandria.  “From the research that we’ve done, I don’t believe another project like this has been done in a rural community in the United States ... providing affordable housing, plus the grocery which  addresses a food desert.  It is one of only two projects funded through Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority in 2016,” said Brown.



Another major addition to the city’s economic opportunity -- in the form of a huge financial boost-- was announced on October 6 when the Madison County Council of Governments approved the use of $91,500 to drill test wells and do a comprehensive water study at the Alexandria North Business Park.  Funding comes from food and beverage tax revenues.

Brown said the site is very attractive for business development because extensive work has already been done through a successful coalition of all the key players.  The business park is shovel-ready, utilities are in place,  and AT&T has certified the site as fiber optic-ready. The water study is another logical step in preparing for future industry.

“Multiple companies have looked at the business park for development. A couple are big water users. Test wells and water samples will help us make sure we are ready and have the ability to provide processed water, raw water, whatever is needed,” Brown explained.

“All of the companies we’ve talked to would produce significant job growth. It could possibly be one of the biggest opportunities in the state, let alone north Madison County.  It will have great regional impact.”

Brown said he is excited about so many good things happening in the community.  “We’re doing everything we can and doing it well.  We strive to be innovative, affordable, friendly and safe.  We want to support and grow together to make Madison County the best place to live regardless of who you are.”

2016 Indiana Health and Wellness Summit Report

By Chuck Gillespie, executive director, Wellness Council of Indiana

“Wellness works! If not, it’s your programming that is failing you!” – Dr. Dee Edington

If you missed the 2016 Indiana Health and Wellness Summit, you missed 37 AchieveWELL organizations recognized, two counties designated as Indiana Healthy Communities, outstanding breakout sessions, extraordinary exhibitors and three keynote addresses. Each helped attendees walk away thinking differently with powerful tools to act accordingly.

When the dust settled, there were four items I took away from the summit that I believe must be addressed for Indiana to be an even better place to live, work, learn and play!

1. “Indiana does not have a jobs problem; we have a people problem” is a quote directly from our first keynote speaker, Michael Hicks, distinguished professor of economics at Ball State University. Hicks unveiled the Healthy Wealth Wise Index, which provides data that shows a direct correlation between the health outcomes of Hoosier citizens with their education and lifetime earning power. Creating jobs is one thing, but having people healthy and happy enough to come to work every day to perform is a critical success factor, and the health and well-being of Indiana’s citizens are diminishing these opportunities.

2. The tools and resources are available to workplaces across the state to design, develop and manage a workplace wellness initiative, but there is a lack of focus and understanding about what needs to occur strategically. We have organizations that are considered some of the best in the nation regarding workplace wellness, but too many have not tied their wellness planning into their strategic plan. You cannot simply hire an outside vendor to “do wellness.”

3. Employees who are internally tasked with managing their wellness initiative are still too focused on implementing programs rather than assessing their strategy and developing systematic processes to deliver the right programs that will positively impact their chosen metric. Choose metrics that are controllable (hint: There are many costs of health care that are out of your control), impactful and simple to measure. Then choose programs that will help you reach those goals.

4. Your community matters. The biggest influencers on your employees are friends and family. Understand the impact the community has on your workforce. Understand that your next employee will likely be hired from within a 50-mile radius of the job site. Know that the health of your community directly impacts the health and well-being of your employees. Know that the community is equally as important as your employees in the determination of your health care cost increases.

These ideas are not new, but we have to adopt a higher level of thinking to change Indiana’s current health status. What are you doing to change the health status of employees? “Know Your Numbers” campaigns tell employees where they are and where they should be. Does your wellness initiative provide them a blueprint for how to get there? Are you offering employees the right tools?

Look at wellness as a business strategy for making your organization a best place to work – a place where people want to bring their talents. This requires focus on purpose-driven workplaces, corporate social responsibility and engagement by people.

Big journeys begin with small steps

By Gwen Strough, Madison County Chamber contributing writer & content creator

THRIVE Network: Helping hardworking families achieve financial stability

“Big journeys begin with small steps.” It is a simple slogan with powerful possibilities.

Born and raised in Anderson, Indiana, Jonelle Hopgood, is a real-life example of how success can be achieved when the proper tools are made available. At 35 years old, the mother of four struggled to make ends meet even though she was working continually. She was tired and insecure and saw no way out. Then she met Sherry Peak-Davis, Executive Director of Anderson Impact Center [AIC].

Hopgood lived down the street from AIC, and said she decided to stop in one day to see what the place was all about. It was a simple step that changed her future.

“Because of what I was going through, I was emotionally drained,” she explained. “Mrs. Peak-Davis told me what it would take to get myself together and have a better life.”

The AIC staff pushed her in the right direct direction and gave her the tools to move forward. In a short period of time, her needs and goals were mapped out under a new THRIVE initiative led by United Way of Madison County in collaboration with seven other local networking agencies. In a matter of only five weeks, Hopgood completed an intense pharmacy tech program comparable to a 6 - 18 month college course. Now she is working as a full time pharmacy technician at a local CVS and has the new-found confidence to start her nursing degree.

On September 27, Hopgood shared her success story at the first of three official ribbon cuttings at Madison County locations where the THRIVE Network is offered. She said she is proud of what she has accomplished and her ability to become financially stable.

“There’s nothing like a personal testimony,” beamed Peak-Davis at the grand opening event, as she explained how one-on-one interviews with individuals such as Hopgood are an important first step in assessing the needs and goals of each participant in the program. Personalized coaches are then assigned to help these hardworking participants develop the necessary skills to get beyond the daily grind of living from paycheck to paycheck.

The Anderson Impact Center serves as the first comprehensive "Center" in the THRIVE Network with coaches on staff and ready to serve all areas of Madison county. The coaching and other services are offered at times and locations that fit within the parameters of everyone's schedule. Coaches travel throughout the county, working out of designated hubs at the AIC, the Alexandria Community Center and Hinds Career Center as well as being flexible to meet at other places as determined by the coaches and participants.

Modeled after Annie E. Casey Foundation's Centers for Working Families, THRIVE is building upon that organization’s proven success in helping families achieve long-term financial stability. The foundation’s model has been adopted at more than 100 locations throughout the U.S. in at least two dozen states.

THRIVE Network exists to offer the same proven opportunities for success to financially-struggling families throughout Madison County. As the initiative offers the promise of hope, it also issues a challenge: “Do more than survive...THRIVE!”

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