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Policy Points

Policy Points is a bi-weekly publication of the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce, providing insight and analysis of critical local, state and federal issues.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Table of Contents

Survey of business education

As part of the Regional Cities Initiative, policymakers are gathering information about business education in the area. We have programs and schools in the area. Do we have enough? Are students prepared? Share your thoughts.

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Work Ethics Certification

As readers of Policy Points know, all the schools in Elkhart County are offering a Work Ethics Certificate for graduates who have demonstrated work-ready qualities. Things like attendance, teamwork, and other qualities will be recognized with a certificate upon graduation. This is a difficult award to receive. You will be interested in hiring the young men and women who earn it.

What are you willing to put into the program? Are you willing to offer an internship or job-shadowing opportunity? Are you willing to offer a special hiring condition for the people who earn the certificate? Do you have the kind of workplace that welcomes young men and women?

If you are interested in being a college and career readiness partner with the Work Ethics Certificate, contact Kathy Cardwell at the Chamber. 

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Interim assignments

Indiana has a part-time legislature. But modern society demands more work than that, so our legislature uses Interim Study Committees to look a little more in-depth at issues between sessions.

Here is where our local House members are serving:
Rep. Wes Culver – Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (V. Chair); Pension Management Oversight; Tourism Council
Rep. Doug Miller – Commerce and Economic Development
Rep. Curt Nisly – Interstate Rail Passenger Advisory Council
Rep. David Ober – Energy, Utilities, and Telecommunications (V. Chair)
Rep. Tim Wesco – Elections; Employment and Labor; Public Policy; Judiciary and Public Policy

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INDOT lunch

One thing you get from the Elkhart Chamber that you don’t get anywhere else is the opportunity to share lunch with the Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) to talk about highway projects.

This year we have a new INDOT Commissioner, Joe McGuinness. Meet him and hear about state highway projects on Tuesday, August 1, noon – 1:30 at Elcona Country Club, 56784 CR 21, Bristol. Lunch is only $25 for members. Go here to register.

This relationship we have built with INDOT has served our community for more than 25 years. By working closely with INDOT, we help them understand community needs and we help them navigate local bureaucratic roadblocks.

Speaking of road cooperation
Governor Eric Holcomb will be visiting the area Monday to celebrate the US 33 project in Goshen.

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Speaking of Roads

Governor Eric Holcomb released the Next Level Indiana road project plan. See it here.

We are still analyzing the Elkhart County projects. Fortunately, there are quite a few. Next, we will start analyzing the regional projects, including US 31. It still includes the J-Turns. While we like that so much needed funding is going to roads, including US 31, we reserve the right to suggest better improvements to individual projects.

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What’s your Little Big Idea?

At the Vibrant Communities celebration this week, the leaders unveiled the Little Big Idea grant.

Do you have a fun, impactful idea for the area? The grant will provide up to $1,000 to make it happen. Go here for more information. The fun video explains a lot.

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Still moving

Plans for a new, upscale apartment complex on the site of the former Elkhart Foundry have been delayed. But they are still moving.

Last week the Elkhart Redevelopment Commission approved the creation of a “carve-out” TIF so the project itself will pay for most of its own bond. They also approved the ability to use TIF money to pay the bond.

Next week, they will consider the project itself.

Then it goes to the city council.

Testimony was mostly favorable. People talked about the need for this kind of housing and about the image of Elkhart if we let another major project slip away. Opponents question the proper use of tax money and the need for affordable housing.

While we understand the questions about public investment in these kinds of projects, the reality is that modern investments, especially in cities the size of Elkhart, require public participation.

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Kenley retirement

He is not one of our lawmakers. We don’t vote to retain him or replace him.

Yet, he has impacted our lives for 8 years. State Senator Luke Kenley is the Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. When governments in our area are considering new ordinances for local taxes or the use of TIF, the questions always comes down to “What will Senator Kenley think about this?”

Now, that is going to be up in the air. Senator Kenley announced his retirement from the Senate, effective September 30. Here is a story.

The Senate will get a new Chairman of the Appropriations Committee. This will impact the state’s budet for years to come. The new Chairman will have a new set of priorities. Our hope is that the new Chairman appreciates the value of Elkhart County. Stay tuned.

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Celebrate your sustainability

Local companies have made great strides in improving their processes to be cleaner and more efficient. While environmental requirements have gotten more strict, our county continues to meet the tighter standards. That is due, in part, to companies that have adopted cleaner procedures.

Time to recognize the work of those companies. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) is seeking nominations for the 2017 Indiana Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence. This award is the state's most prestigious environmental recognition.

The Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence is open to any Indiana citizen, business, nonprofit organization, school, or government agency. All projects submitted must demonstrate significant, measurable results that positively impact Indiana's environment. Nominations must be received by IDEM no later than 5 p.m., Friday, July 28, 2017.

To learn more about the Indiana Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence, go here.

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Visit our sponsor: Majority Builders

Upcoming Chamber events

For more information about these and other events, visit our website.

July 18, Biz-Ness Lunch-in hosted by Gaylor Electric11 am - 1 pm, 2509 Ada Drive,  Elkhart

July 20, Biz-Ness After Hours hosted by Watkins Family Dentistry, 5 – 7 pm, 205 E Jackson Blvd, Elkhart

July 24, Member Celebration - Sew Creative Threads, 11:30 am, 189 CR 6 W, Elkhart

Aug 1, INDOT Luncheon 201712 - 1:30 pm, Elcona Country Club

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