Category Archives: Business

An Idea for Indianapolis Public Schools

1) What if a child didn’t have to worry about what they were wearing to school. Does my uniform fit? Is it clean? I am reminded back at the beginning of this 2011-12 school year when IPS was in the news looking for 7,000 students who still hadn’t shown up. Some parents were interviewed talking about their kids not having uniforms yet to go. During that same week, it was announced that Ray Skillman made a 5-year commitment to cover Center Grove High School’s sports programs so no one had to pay extra to play sports. That is $200K a year for the next 5 years. The first thing that came to mind was, who wants to sponsor our kids? Perhaps in offering them a school uniform at the beginning of each school year so they wouldn’t have to worry, does my uniform fit? Is it clean? Some of the schools are offering a uniform exchange opportunity for growing kids to get a uniform their new size. But, isn’t there something about the way you feel in a brand new outfit, just for you?

Would you buy/wear a T-shirt that read, “Chick-fil-A gives a damn about our inner city kids”? A joint partnership between and fast food company and the citizens of the community. Would you be proud to wear it? I figure many of us have T-shirts. So maybe not only seek a direct financial contribution, but what if we as a city offered our own, local element to TOMS, one for one movement? Or I am reminded of FIGS in which you buy a men’s tie and your purchase includes buying a school uniform for a child in Eastern Africa. What if we had some of the IPS kids in Career Technology Magnet Fashion Merchandising class design a product unique to, well us? Would you buy it and wear it with pride knowing your money went to purchasing a child a uniform?

2) There are kids in our community whose parents don’t know how to use a computer, who can’t read English or even maybe cannot read at all. This is a realistic learning obstacle in our kids life. There are children that are showing up for tutoring help, seeking help with reading that are getting turned away because there aren’t enough volunteers. What if the great Young Professionals groups of Indianapolis made a commitment in early education, volunteering to serve our inner city kids?  There are 33K students.  Am I being to ambitious or unrealistic in putting out there the idea of 33K volunteers who can commit 30 min to an hour a week with a student?

Wow, could you imagine the impact?

3) Finally, what if there was a targeted incentive to bring young people in the same stage of life and encourage them to live downtown. Raise a family downtown. Most of the employees in downtown Indianapolis commute from the suburbs to work. What if there was an incentive in place to encourage employees to live downtown. Or maybe target specific companies, like ExactTarget. When this young staff gets married, decides to have children. Do you think they would come together as a team and enroll their children in IPS? Knowing they are not alone?


What’s Next on the Social Horizon?

I was visiting with some girlfriends last weekend and was introduced to a new gal who is down from Chicago. We are discussing what we all do for fun and where we like to go out both us here in Indy and she in Chicago. Of course she points out how affordable Indy is compared to Chicago. She lives on the West side of Chicago and had mentioned she never visits with her girlfriends who live in Northern Chicago, even as close as they are, because of how expensive a taxi is there and back.What if the future of bar design included being able to Skype with your friends in another location? Have a pint together. Share in conversation? You know a booth setting, couch setting, telephone booth? Think of how we are secluding ourselves from the people we are sharing a table with as we are engaged in conversation with friends that could not make it. Would being able to Skype with your friends in a setting from your bar to your friends bar she chose to patron help eliminate this? Would you be more engaged with the present?

This may only make since for highly populated areas, Chicago, NYC, LA, San Francisco, etc. Got me to thinking about how this could work in Indianapolis…Scotty’s Brewhouse. I can picture it now, Mom and Dad at Scotty’s Lakehouse on Geist Skyping and sharing a pint with little Grady down at Scotty’s Bloomington. Crazy to think?

And finally, from a girl who travels alone. On those down days, boy wouldn’t it be nice to have a pint with my girlfriends at home when I am at some café in Paris.

What do you think? How could this idea evolve into a realistic idea, or do you veto it?

Las Vegas gets a $350 million investment. Indianapolis gets a Super Bowl.

Richard Karlgaard, Columnist and Publisher of Forbes Magazine was in Indianapolis in 2010 for the city’s Race to the Summit event (powered by Develop Indy). One of the stories that he shared has stayed with me. He lives in Silicon Valley. He mentioned he was at a fundraiser or party of some sort with all of the heavy hitters and when the topic of either Email Marketing or Measured Marketing came up, it was said that Indianapolis is the home for that. Pretty amazing, right? Thank you Richard for sharing that.

I’m reminded of all of the notes I made during the conference. All of the ideas I had to get started. I had the opportunity to chat with some folks from Develop Indy following the event and I mentioned we should put together some action teams to put some of these ideas and inspirations to work. Now this conference is way behind us. What came out of it? What ideas flourished, what ideas simply died?

We are in a similar position with the Super Bowl now behind us. Indianapolis was in the spot light. I’m sure we hosted some great businesses trying to pitch them to move their operation here to Indy. Maybe even entertained some entrepreneurs to start new business ventures here in Indianapolis.

I’ve been following the Zappos move to Las Vegas. It was announced a few weeks ago that Tony Hseih plans to invest 350 million into the side of town they have chosen to move to make it a viable city. What other young companies are making these kind of investments in cities or simply their neighborhood?

For those of you who watched WFYI’s, “Naptown to Super City,” what stuck out to me was Eli Lilly and Simon’s commitment to community. Former Mayor Hudnut retells the story of Herb Simon stepping up and serving his city by way of financially backing the Indianapolis Pacers for the potential long-term gain. Again, he used the word, Service. (Mayor Hudnut’s Presentation for The Center on Philanthropy on January 20, 2012) Who is our future Eli Lilly? Are you already here in Indianapolis and looking to step up or are you someone looking at Indianapolis and excited to jump right in?

Are you apart of a young company doing some pretty amazing things here in Indy? Fill me in. How are you making your mark?

Attracting Talent vs. Attracting Jobs

In 2000, Indianapolis established a goal to double the number of downtown Indianapolis residence by 2020. How do you think we’re doing? I was referred a book that had some compelling points and if you are passionate about cities and economic development. This is a great quick read to add to your list: Live First,Work Second by Rebecca Ryan, printed in 2007. This book discusses how to reach and retain the next generation. When surveyed, “3 out of 4 Americans under the age of 28 said a cool city is more important than a good job.” What comes to mind when you read this statement? Ryan points out, then why is the measurement of economic development/stability based on ‘number of jobs’? Is it time to establish new measurement matrix? What would that look like?

My job in the coming years will not be to attract companies. 100 percent of my job will be to attract talent. — Janet Miller, Nashville Area Chamber

Our economic development goals should include increasing the incomes of all people in the region. Resulting in better education, better health, more sustainable economies and increase of environmental protection. (We have a project happening in Fountain Square to attempt at taking a stab at this very thing.) Should we be measuring the number of patents in the area? Did you know that according to the US Small Business Administration, 4 out of 5 new businesses are started by women, Gen X’ers and minorities?

This is the first time I was introduced to the idea that we are now in a knowledge based economy where knowledge workers create market value.

Knowledge is the new basis for wealth. In the future when capitalists talk about their wealth they will be talking about their control of knowledge. Exactly how one controls knowledge is in fact a central issue in a knowledge-based economy.
—Lester Thurow (1999)

What questions does Develop Indy get when a company is looking at Indianapolis as a city to bring their business to? They are getting more questions on livability. What does your city look like…online?

A city (or company for that matter) is three times more likely to retain young talent if they feel that their voices are being heard and valued. The more young talent are engaged in their community, the longer they plan to stay.

I would like to close with a story Ryan re-introduced. Atlanta, 1962: All of the cities leaders/investors/stakeholders/influencers were on a plane to Paris. The plane crashed and everyone died. Not only do we ask, will your city be able to continue to operate efficiently, but Ryan poses the question: Would Atlanta be what it is today, incredibly diverse, full of young energy, incredibly dense, livable if the group on the plane had survived? Is your city run by the PMS group (Pale, Male & Stale)? Is your city open to the new generation of do’ers that look to take on a role (or responsibility) in their neighborhood?

2018 : 930,000 Jobs Need Filled

Here’s the catch, included in the projected 930,000 jobs available in the state of Indiana (due to job growth and vacancies), 55% of them will require a college degree. With productivity growth means a need for increase knowledge and skills in the ever advancing technology involved. At this point, we simply do not have a workforce with the required skills to fill these positions. Isn’t that worrisome?

Congressman Joe Donnelly was interviewed by Inside Indiana Business with that huge headline that ‘$20/hour paying jobs are going unfilled‘. I was reminded of a presentation I attended in January where Jamie Merisotis, President of the Lumina Foundation, gave us some insight:

Today in the US, 63% of High School students enroll in college. One Third of them actually obtain a degree. If you want to compare this to other nations: Korea 58% of 25-34 year olds hold a degree, Japan 55%, Ireland 45%.

Other Indiana Stats:

– 33% of the state’s 3.4 million adults holds at least a 2-yr degree. National Average, 38% — still a little scary if you ask me.

– The state projects a college attainment rate of 44% in 2025.

Ideas looking forward:

Colleges and Corporations Must Work Together

Professors and Corporate leaders need to work hand in hand to determine what our students should be learning to be ready to enter the workforce.

Donnelly had commented that we need to make sure that we provide our students with the skills manufacturer’s are seeking and enable innovation through incentives. I would be curious to see the big plan on how best to position Indiana as the ‘Manufacturing Economy of the Future.’ Sounds very progressive.

Prospects : Increasing Human Capital

730,000 people in Indiana have attended college, but have not completed their degree.

It costs $48 to find and re-enroll each person.

Tuition Reimbursement programs are in place to encourage corporate support in investing in their workforce. Challenges in the global marketplace require that skills and training be constantly upgraded. Can we keep up?

Supporting innovation, increases job growth which in turn generates more money in our economy.

You can view Jamie Merisotis, Lumina Foundation presentation here.

Most of the statistics in this article came from the Lumina Foundation website, with so much more information available if you are so inclined:

South East Deemed Development Worthy

I had the pleasure of attending a meeting in Fountain Square with a panel of 5 from Lacy Leadership who will be working in our neighborhood for the next several months. I’m new to the group and it seemed that the discussion was set with the goal of:

1) Increasing Neighborhood Income : In revitalizing downtown Indy and the development of Southeast corridor of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, there is fear that with the increase of housing values, will push the current residents out of the area. The idea is how can we increase the current residence income so they will not be pushed out.

2) Micro-Enterprises : This is what I understood to be the main point of focus for the evening. The idea of putting someone’s talents to use to create income completely independent from a big corporation. There is an organization in the neighborhood that told us that the neighbors they are speaking of do not have the skills for present day jobs. In all honesty, with that comment, now I’m confused.

So here we are neighbors coming together to discuss issues in our neighborhood. Issues that came up included:

‘Vacant lots needing to be mowed’

Let’s dive into this. Vacant lots do not need mowed. Vacant lots need an owner/resident.

‘Better daycare options are needed in Fountain Square.’

This one was the one that received the most post meeting conversation. I have to ask, is providing better Daycare services really the issue or is it a band-aid? In asking for better Daycare services are you in turn asking for the continued need for both parents to work (Understanding that there are probably single parent families in the neighborhood, but the example I’m referring to is from the couple who was asking for daycare services, not a single parent). The average cost of daycare in Indianapolis is $500 per month. I’m sure you’ve heard that the average middle class family is now dependent on both parents working to provide for the family. There in some cases is no longer the choice of one parent staying home to care for children. So, my thought process is on how do we work towards increasing a family’s income where they can survive off of one primary income? Perhaps the Needs assessment, or what we should be asking for, should be ‘THE OPTION TO STAY HOME’ or the option to work in an environment that is good both for a parent to earn income AND provide for their child(ren). So, what about Urban Farming? What other jobs are there that one can earn an income AND their kids be with them in an involved/active setting?

The idea of building a shared kitchen was introduced. A parent could use a kitchen to produce and sell goods, perhaps the right design to incorporate an inviting area for child care at any age. Cribs, swings, learning stations for all ages or study areas for older children perhaps.

The idea of a tool library or tool bank was discussed. This idea is intriguing to me. I’m going to Atlanta this week, I’d like to check theirs out. They only have tools available for non-profit/community projects, not for individual use.

Bicycle Hub – Someone mentioned that bicycle theft is a major issue in the neighborhood. I interjected. What if we had a bicycle hub in Fountain Square? Would making bikes available for anyone to borrow help address this issue and in some small way get you out to meet your neighbors?

Second Helpings – Creating an organization that makes sense for our community with the shared idea that they are teaching folks new skills to re-enter the workforce.

– I proposed a paid internship program – Identify key organizations in the neighborhood that are ready for growth. Offer and support internships to teach neighbors new skills. None of us are too old to learn new skills. We need to have a mindset to evolve…sometimes to circumstances beyond our control.

Social Impact Bonds. President Obama’s budget included $100 million to go towards Social Impact by the way of bonds. My understanding is that you take your idea. Define how you will measure impact. Initiate through private funding and if it’s successful, the funders will be reimbursed from this pool of money that Obama has allocated.

Should South East have its own idea think tank? Pecha Kucha anyone?

Another idea one of the folks from Lacy Leadership introduced was the idea of a Social Responsibility Network. You would put together an advisory board. Have people submit their project proposals where they could request a loan. The advisory board would then partner folks together in a team(s) of 5. Funding is allocated to one of these five ideas initially. The entire team of 5 is all held accountable for the person selected to achieve success. This includes a weekly meeting with the advisory committee. Once the first idea is proven successful and has been able to pay the money borrowed back in its entirety. The initial investment is then re-invested to idea #2 in the group where all 5 people/organizations are responsible for their success, etc, etc.

So what this all comes down to is that we have a team of 5 fantastic folks that are with us in our neighborhood with hopes of making a difference. How will our community step up to assist and contribute?

Top 10 Networking Tips for College Students and New Grads

1. Be prepared. Have a business card on you with your contact info. Include your social media outlets as well as your blog/website.
2. Have in mind who you are looking to meet. People need to know how best they can help you. This will be easier when you are specific. I’m looking for contacts in this role at these specific organizations.
3. Be creative and fun. What are your hobbies/interests. Share this, this is you and people will remember that about you. Perhaps on your online profiles include that interest/hobby i.e. running marathons, enjoying craft beer, snowboarding, reading biographies, cooking etc.
4. The lost art of the hand written Thank You. Have a goal to send out notes of gratitude, x number per week.
5. Be Genuine and willing to Help People. Be a connector, go above and beyond if you are called on to help.
6. Be Philanthropic. Volunteer for projects or non-profit organizations that interest you.
7. Have meetings with a purpose. What are your objectives and expectations going in and make them known. Leave with specific idea of follow up.
8. Become a Resource for others in your area of expertise and activity interests. Perhaps start a blog on wordpress or tumblr.
9. Connect with everyone you meet on LinkedIn and Kelley InCircle where appropriate. These are great networking tools that will help you be more productive.
10. Work the room. Shoot to spend a few minutes with everyone in the room, or go in with a goal to meet x number of new people.