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IU Kelley School's Leading Index for Indiana rose again in September

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Driven by good news in the housing and auto sectors, the Indiana University Kelley School of Business' Leading Index for Indiana made solid progress this month with a reading of 102.0, up from a revised August reading of 101.5.

All the components of the index contributed to the robust rise. Of particular note is homebuilders' sentiment, which rose to its highest reading since November 2005.

"If trends continue in the auto sector, this looks to be a banner year for automakers," said Timothy Slaper, research director of the Indiana Business Research Center in the Kelley School, which produces the monthly index.

There were 1.6 million light-vehicle sales in August, up 10.5 percent from July 2014 and better than August 2013 by 5.4 percent. The August 2014 seasonally adjusted annual rate for light-vehicle sales was 17.5 million, a first for this year.

But Slaper buffered the good news with caution.

"Based on Gallup's U.S. Economic Confidence Index and the Small Business Optimism Index, sentiment for consumers and small business has hit a flat patch -- in essence, taking a wait-and-see posture," he said. "Perhaps the average consumer and small business owner are finding it hard to hope for the best."

Drivers of change

Builders in many locations across the country reported improving buyer interest and increased traffic, which translated in a 4-point jump in the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. Just the same, the NAHB notes that builders are still not seeing much activity from first-time homebuyers.

The Institute for Supply Management’s Purchasing Managers Index indicates that the manufacturing sector expanded in August for the 15th consecutive month. The PMI rose by 1.9 percentage points from July's reading of 57.1 percent. This month's PMI reflects the highest reading since March 2011.

Unfilled orders for automotive bodies and parts, which is the auto component of the index, rose only by 0.2 percent. "That said, auto sales are on a tear," Slaper said.

The transportation and logistics component of the LII, the Dow Jones Transportation Average, increased a convincing 3.2 percent.

Next month will be the last regularly released edition of the LII. This is because the interest rate component of the index relies on Federal Reserve policy, which has been unchanged. The yield spreads that once foretold changes in economic growth are less reliable.

About the Leading Index for Indiana

The Indiana Business Research Center in the Kelley School of Business, with offices on Indiana University's Bloomington and Indianapolis campuses, produces the monthly index. The LII was developed for Hoosier businesses and governments to provide a signal for changes in the general direction of the Indiana economy. In contrast to The Conference Board's Leading Economic Index and other indexes that are national in scope, the LII uses national-level data for key sectors that are important to the Indiana economy. The reason the LII uses national level data is because national data are timelier than state-level data.

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Startup prodigy Jaramillo started at age 7

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Entrepreneur Santiago Jaramillo found himself in the living room of job prospect Adam Weber one weeknight in September 2012, pitching his 1-year-old application software company Bluebridge to the established sales executive and his wife. Weber, 31 at the time, had two children and a nice job with a digital marketing firm. Jaramillo, 22, had a vision.

“My wife opened it up by saying, ‘So you just graduated college and you want to hire my husband?’” Weber recalled.

Yes, that was exactly what Jaramillo wanted.

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From left, Bluebridge employees Ian Illig, Brock Glaze, Ben Kinney and Seth Paladin listen to CEO Santiago Jaramillo’s presentation. (IBJ photo/Eric Learned)

Weber is now head of sales at Bluebridge Digital LLC, and Jaramillo is still its CEO. The Fishers-based company creates and manages apps primarily for not-for-profit organizations, and it’s one of the first app companies to operate on a subscription model. Bluebridge recently raised $1 million in venture capital and plans to double its workforce to about 50 next year.

The fact that Jaramillo, now 24, is already a CEO has come as a surprise to some, but not to those who know him well. The South American native is known for his unyielding drive and keen market perception, close acquaintances said. He was his own boss well before mobile apps and smartphones even existed. He started his first business at 7.

“There are a number of people you meet who, within that first meeting, you realize have the ‘it’ factor,” said Tim Kopp, former chief marketing officer at Indianapolis-based ExactTarget Inc. Jaramillo interned there starting in the summer of 2010.

“It was probably that first meeting where I really had a feeling that this guy was going to be CEO of his own company one day,” Kopp said. “Little did I know it would be just a few years later.”

Long before being named to Inc. Magazine’s 30-under-30 entrepreneurs list or getting venture capital support from Kopp and Aprimo founder Bill Godfrey, Jaramillo was a slim Colombian boy who sold five-gallon jugs of water to his neighbors.

jaramillo-santiago-mug
Jaramillo

These days, he’s dealing with problems like where to fit the next dozen or so employees he plans to hire by spring or where to move when Bluebridge reaches capacity. His brother Felipe Jaramillo, three years younger, suggested that luck wasn’t the only factor in his brother’s success.

“Luck has to be met with competence, drive and determination,” he said.

An early entrepreneur

The Jaramillo family grew up outside of Cali, Colombia, in a well-off, secluded, community. They came to Florida in 2000 partly because a guerilla group kidnapped more than 100 people from their church at a service the year before. The Jaramillos happened to skip church that weekend, a rare absence for them.

No matter where he resided, Santiago Jaramillo has had a knack for entrepreneurial endeavors.

Tap water in his South American hometown wasn’t deemed safe for consumption, and a Coca-Cola truck delivered water jugs to the front of the gated community.

At age 7, under his own initiative, family members said, Jaramillo used his little red wagon to deliver the hefty jugs to residents’ doorsteps for a slight profit. He had glowing eyes; a tall, lean build; and could often be found in his green and gray school uniform, family members said.

“Any day of the week, he was available,” said his mother Olga Jaramillo, 51, adding that she still has the red wagon.

She also has fliers from his other childhood ventures, including his hurricane-related window shutters business and his music lesson business. He started the shutter venture around 11 and started the lessons around 14. Jaramillo ran a couple of businesses in college at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, too.

“His ideas came from trying to figure out what the need is,” his mother said.

Bridging the gap

The idea for Bluebridge came in the spring of 2011 after Jaramillo interned at ExactTarget, where he noticed a boom in mobile device usage.

“When I saw smartphones taking off, that was my calling,” he said. “The fact that people are starting to use smartphones more than computers is the most fundamental shift that I’ve lived in my lifetime, and I want to be part of that.”

jamarillo-factbox.gifJaramillo studied abroad in Australia in that spring, and worked for ExactTarget there as well. Even though he still had a year left at Indiana Wesleyan, he decided he wanted to move to Indianapolis and start a company in the mobile space. He didn’t have a company name at that point.

Before heading to the United States, he detoured to New Zealand to clear his mind. His plan was to make a south-to-north trek of the country, which is split in two by the Cook Strait. The Bluebridge Ferry transports cars between the two islands. The name stuck.

Upon returning, he launched the company here, then ran it from Marion when classes resumed for the fall.

“Consumer usage is spent in apps and in smartphones, yet organizations have no idea what to do with them,” Jaramillo said. “And they’re not doing much with it. So we’re bridging the gap.”

Lessons learned

Before delving into tech, Jaramillo ran a moving and storage company in college called University Storage, through which he rented storage facilities in bulk and paid people to transport student valuables.

He did that for one summer in 2009 and things weren’t so swell. He ran out of money to cover delivery expenses and had to fly to school early to deliver the items himself.

“That taught me great important lessons about cash flow, projecting cash flow and understanding expenses,” he said, adding that he also learned he didn’t want to go into transportation logistics.

“That was the philosophy early on: Get as much experience as possible. Fail as much as possible. Learn as much as possible. And that allows you to play at different levels of the game as your skills and knowledge increase.”

Acquaintances said that and other experiences helped fashion Jaramillo into the person he is today—an ambitious entrepreneur who’s confident but not boastful and is willing to take risks.

After graduation, he could have pursued safer paths. He passed up job offers from Google and ExactTarget to focus on his own business.

“He’s a very scrappy person,” Kopp said. “He’ll do whatever it takes to win within ethical boundaries.”

Almost pulled the plug

When Jaramillo got back from New Zealand in June 2011, he had free-lance developers on deck to work on apps, but he didn’t make one sale that summer. One problem: He had no proof of his capabilities.

“You can promote the business on social media all you want,” Jaramillo said. “If you don’t have any sales, you don’t have a business.”

He made a news aggregator app and ultimately landed time in front of the Kokomo Convention and Visitors Bureau. It was one of those last-ditch efforts, he said, as he was getting ready to pull the plug on Bluebridge and start job hunting. The Kokomo CVB became his first client that November.

Before he graduated in the spring of 2012, Bluebridge went on to rake in $100,000 in revenue, which Jaramillo reinvested in the business. He also won $23,000 from Taylor University’s business plan competition in 2012 and used that money “to essentially not take any jobs after college.”

Some market traction

Jaramillo found Weber in 2012 after reading one of his blogs. The two set up a coffee meeting, where Jaramillo picked Weber’s brain and shared his ideas for Bluebridge. Weber reached out to Jaramillo a few weeks later with ideas about how to scale the company. He, like Jaramillo, believed in selling apps as a service as opposed to just making them and leaving the maintenance to clients.

“So I mapped out this plan for him, I walked him through it, and I get finished and he’s like, ‘You’ve got to do it. I want you to do it with me,’” Weber said.

Weber quit his job at SpinWeb, taking a pay cut in the process, and joined Bluebridge that October. A month later, the company brought on Mitch Shields as the third partner, who leads the tech division and removed the need for free-lance developers.

Once the trio was together, Bluebridge’s real liftoff came in January 2013, Jaramillo said. The company sold 110 app contracts in 2013 and closed the year with 13 employees.

“It was a really big year for us,” Jaramillo said. “It confirmed our business model.”

Strategic growth

The $1 million private equity offering was part of an effort to accelerate growth. Jaramillo said investors offered to put in an extra $400,000, but Bluebridge turned down the excess capital, which was debt that could be converted into equity.

jamarillo-timeline.gifBesides the venture capital help, Bluebridge received taxpayer assistance. Last December, the Indiana Economic Development Corp. said it would grant Bluebridge $1.85 million in conditional tax credits and up to $50,000 in training grants based on Bluebridge’s pledge to add 199 workers by 2022.

Bluebridge operates out of an office park off USA Parkway, where the town of Fishers initially subsidized some of its rent based on hiring commitments. Bluebridge paid $750 its first month in October 2013. This October, when the declining subsidies reach , Bluebridge is scheduled to pay $5,625 a month. The lease ends in August 2015.

Asked whether he planned to stay in Fishers—where the company also used the Launch Fishers coworking space—Jaramillo said the town has been great but, “We’ll see.”

Location is just one of the issues on the table. Overall, Jaramillo said, he’s working to enhance the customer experience and guide growth strategically.

“Uncontrollable growth is just as big a problem—if not worse—than no growth,” he said.

Nearly two years after signing on, Weber said he’s more than satisfied with his decision. The concept had promise, and the market for Bluebridge was there. But what really sold him was Jaramillo.
 

“He has good vision. That was the key thing that stood out to me,” Weber said. “He was pretty convinced on what he wanted to do, and there wasn’t much that could shake that. And when people have vision like that, it’s pretty contagious.”•tartup prodigy Jaramillo started at age

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Crowdfunding site Localstake sees surge in deals

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Localstake LLC, a crowdfunding startup that connects investors with small businesses, has seen business activity take off as it enters its second year, even as the crowdfunding industry at large awaits the finalization of federal rules.

The seven-employee Indianapolis firm launched in June 2013, raising funds for two companies in its first six months. Over the following eight months, it brokered funding for eight companies and has eight in queue. Localstake’s investor count tripled from August 2013 to August 2014 to more than 3,100, and they’ve poured more than $3 million into various small businesses so far.

“I think some of the recent regulatory changes have helped shed some light on this opportunity,” said co-founder Brandon Smith about what’s fueling growth. “We’ve definitely seen an influx in business activity and businesses that are interested in pursuing this type of financing.”

Smith Smith

Nationally, one of the most common crowdfunding platforms is Kickstarter, where backers contribute to a project in exchange for a gift. Localstake and other platforms take a similar approach, but instead of a T-shirt, the return on investment is monetary.

Localstake has done some equity deals, where investors get a slice of ownership, but it has honed in on debt financing, or so-called crowdlending. Small businesses looking for capital can list a securities offering on Localstake’s website, and investors with as little as a few hundred dollars can invest. The money is repaid with interest through revenue sharing.

The federal JOBS Act of 2012 paved the way for some of what Localstake does. But the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission hasn’t finalized all the rules from that federal legislation, industry observers said, particularly those allowing non-accredited investors to engage in crowdfunding.

Accredited investors are organizations or institutions with at least $5 million in assets or individuals with at least $1 million in liquid net worth.

“We’re hopeful those rules are finalized this fall so that we can have equity crowdfunding for everybody early next year,” said Jason Best of Miami-based Crowdfund Capital Advisors, one of three co-authors behind the crowdfunding investment framework used in the JOBS Act.

Localstake nonetheless has been able to carve out a niche in the nascent industry. In 2013, the SEC lifted restrictions on the public solicitation of private securities offerings, expanding their reach beyond personal investment banking networks. That allowed Localstake to post offerings online.

And in July, Indiana enacted its own rules allowing non-accredited investors join the crowdfunding fray. It’s one of 12 states that have taken that step, according to crowdcheck.com.

These investors can only invest within state borders, but the two law changes paved the way for Localstake to advertise private offerings to a broad audience and attract a variety of investors. So far, Localstake has brokered investments between $250 and more than $100,000 in companies including Indiana-based Moody’s Butcher Shops, FastTrack Student Loans and Biologics Modular.

It also helped channel capital to two Michigan companies and one Wisconsin company.

The interest in alternative financing, including raising cash through crowdfunding, has been driven in part by small businesses’ struggles in obtaining bank loans.

“If you go talk to 10 small businesses in your community that are successful small businesses with cash flow and profit,” Best said, “I would assume that no more than two of them could get bank financing today.”

localstake-bars.gifThe path to financing may be rockier for startups. Bloomington-based Cardinal Spirits, which was founded in 2012, had considered venture capital firms and other alternatives before settling on Localstake.

The company hasn’t sold its first bottle of Vodka yet, president and co-founder Jeff Wuslich said, although it generates revenue by selling ancillary products. It was able to raise $850,000 through Localstake last summer and currently is building its micro-distillery.

“There are very few deals a year,” Wuslich said about venture capital firms, “and very few are interested in Indiana in a non-tech-related startup or a non-life-sciences startup.”

Localstake is not the only online lending platform out there. Websites like Funding Circle USA and Lending Club, both based in San Francisco, also facilitate capital to small businesses in need.

But Smith said that in many cases, such peer-to-peer lenders are more interested in the loan information—purpose, grade, interest rate—than in the company.

“This is more a pure financial transaction,” Smith said. “With crowdfunding, you are investing in a specific business and learning about that particular business as a part of your investment decision.”

The capital raised through Localstake doesn’t come cheap. Smith declined to provide effective annual percentage rates, but said the deals crafted so far allow investors to get anywhere from 1.5 to 2 times their investment back.

The terms vary because the loan payments are a percentage of gross income. So if a company is doing better than expected, it could pay off its loan sooner than expected, and vice versa. Smith said the target term is about 5 years.

“We do believe there’s added value in that you’re marketing your business through this method and you’re gaining potential customers as well,” Smith said.

Smith said Localstake encourages investors to be evangelists in the companies they fund, as opposed to being passive lenders. And thanks to new rules for unaccredited investors, it also empowers business owners to put their investment opportunity in front of people they already know.

Lauren Leibowitz, a member-administrator with the National Crowdfunding Association trade group, said Localstake stands out in the crowdlending space because its co-founders are broker-dealers. The designation allows them to facilitate the securities transactions, not outsource them.

Besides Smith, the other co-founders are Ryan Flynn and Kevin Hutchen. While the website is their primary tool, the three don’t have backgrounds in tech but come from the investment banking world.

“I really like Localstake because they promote that they have that financial industry experience,” Leibowitz said. “But the funding portals, if they do have it they don’t put it out there. They’re really just soliciting the deals.”

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Indiana Among Top Business Climates

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A national trade publication has named Indiana to its top 10 list of best states for doing business. Area Development magazine's Top States for Doing Business Survey for 2014 ranks Indiana's business climate as the best in the Midwest and seventh-best in the nation.

News Release

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Indiana's business climate is best in the Midwest and the seventh best nationwide according to Area Development’s Top States for Doing Business Survey. The state was also among the ranking’s top-five picks in the skilled labor availability (first), water availability and cost (second), distribution and supply chain hubs (third), rail and highway accessibility (fourth) and corporate tax environment (fifth) categories. 

"Indiana's low-cost business environment has put the Hoosier State at the top of the list for private-sector job growth over the past year and now is garnering even more national attention," said Governor Mike Pence. "Since day one, our administration has worked hard to continue making Indiana more and more business friendly. Whether improving affordability, training our workforce or making the perfect location easier to find, Indiana is standing out as the best place to brings jobs, paving the way for an exceptional time of Hoosier job creation and opportunity here in Indiana."

The Area Development Top States for Doing Business Survey, a ranking that gauges the current business climate among the 50 states by site selection consultants, is the latest in a series of national accolades the Hoosier State’s business climate has garnered. In July, Indiana ranked seventh best nationwide in the Pollina Corporate Top 10 Pro-Business States for 2014 study, co-published with the American Economic Development Institute.

In addition, Indiana was recognized in August as the state with the best business climate in the Midwest and fifth best nationally in Business Facilities’ 2014 State Rankings Report, including having one of the strongest across-the-board performances and top 10 rankings in six categories. This included two flagship categories: best business climate and automotive manufacturing strength. The report also noted the Hoosier State’s strength in the biotechnology and automotive manufacturing industries, ranking it second and third in the nation respectively.

“When companies consider where to locate new jobs and invest, they examine the same factors these rankings consider,” said Victor Smith, Indiana Secretary of Commerce. “From workforce availability to location and infrastructure, to the regulatory environment and business expenses, companies need a place where they can do their best work. Indiana’s rise to the top reflects the same conclusion that companies around the world are reaching with their own research—Indiana is a state that works for business.”

Indiana’s impressive streak in national rankings comes on the heels of Crain’s Chicago Business’ report earlier this week that shows Indiana as having one of the lowest percentages of state and local taxes paid by businesses. At 3.7 percent, Indiana’s gross state product percentage ranks in the top five states in the nation for lowest tax burden, which is lower than the national average of 4.7 percent.

About IEDC
Created in 2005 to replace the former Department of Commerce, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation is governed by a 12-member board chaired by Governor Mike Pence. Victor Smith serves as the Indiana Secretary of Commerce and Eric Doden is the president of the IEDC.

The IEDC oversees programs enacted by the General Assembly including tax credits, workforce training grants and public infrastructure assistance. All tax credits are performance-based. Therefore, companies must first invest in Indiana through job creation or capital investment before incentives are paid. A company who does not meet its full projections only receives a percentage of the incentives proportional to its actual investment. For more information about IEDC, visit www.iedc.in.gov

Source: Indiana Economic Development Corporation

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MainSource opens first Louisville location

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MainSource Bank has served clients in the Louisville metropolitan area for 15 years, but it didn't have a location in the city until last month.

The first branch location for Greensburg, Ind.-based MainSource Financial Group Inc. (NASDAQ: MSFG), which is the holding company for MainSource Bank, in Louisville opened last month at 1901 Blankenbaker Parkway, in Bluegrass Commerce Park. The 5,000 square-foot branch is almost double the size of a typical banking center, according to Tony Schwallie, market president for MainSource Bank.

Like many bank branches, the new office has incorporated technological upgrades that are designed to improve convenience, eliminate human error and allow more personal interaction with the bank customers.

"It allows us more time with the client, even if it's 30 to 60 seconds," Schwallie said.

And that face time with customers is more important than ever, he said.

"When somebody comes into a bank today, they have a specific need," said Mike Gleeson, region president for MainSource Bank. He added there is less demand for transactional business with improvements to technology, but there's still a need for expertise and consultative approach.

Schwallie said employees at bank branches are serving in more of an advisory role, answering questions and helping customers with problems, rather than completing transactions for customers, and the bank is hiring to meet that need.

The new office will serve as the center of MainSource' Louisville operations, and it has a larger staff than a typical branch. Its 17 employees include mortgage loan originators, a commercial banking team, treasury management professionals and a financial adviser.

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Ivy Tech partners with trucking giant Schneider to train drivers

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INDIANAPOLIS — Ivy Tech Community College on Wednesday announced a collaboration with Schneider, one of the nation's largest trucking companies, to train drivers at its corporate college campus.

Schneider will pay all program costs for students seeking a Class A commercial driver's license. Covered in the program will be classroom instruction, behind-the-wheel training with instructors, licensing and endorsements.

 

After candidates successfully complete the 160-hour program, Schneider will pay the tuition costs.

"Schneider is proud of our long-standing relationship with Ivy Tech Community College, and we've hired many of their graduates," said Rob Reich, senior vice president at Schneider. "Their training meets the highest standards and prepares graduates for the industry."

Schneider employs or leases more than 414 drivers and owner-operated trucks in Indiana, and is currently hiring statewide, according to company officials.

"We have a comprehensive truck driving academy, and the opportunity to team with Schneider will make it one of the best driver training programs in the nation," said Sherman Johnson, executive director of Ivy Tech's Corporate College. "Offering these incentives up-front puts students on the fast track to a long and successful career."

In addition to the contract training program Wisconsin-based Schneider offers at Ivy Tech graduates, the company also offers a tuition reimbursement program for the graduates of commercial truck driving schools.

In other news, Ivy Tech has received a $200,000 grant from NASA to increase and promote STEM, or science, technology engineering, and mathematics programs. Four Ivy Tech regions, Central Indiana, Lafayette, Northeast and Wabash Valley will share the grant.

 

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NFL Players Association teams up with Indiana University's Kelley School of Business

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Offerings include career development, professional and certificate programs, and MBA degree

  • Sept. 3, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The National Football League Players Association has announced a partnership with the Indiana University Kelley School of Business to provide customized graduate-level educational programs to current and former NFL players.

The Kelley School will offer NFL players a unique model that will guide them from initial career development through professional and certificate programs and ultimately to a Master of Business Administration degree.

"For more than a quarter century, the Kelley School has provided customized programs that have met the needs of many students within a variety of corporate and educational settings," said Idalene Kesner, dean of the Kelley School and the Frank P. Popoff Chair of Strategic Management.

"Our leadership and innovation in delivering online programs provides the flexibility to design a winning experience for these accomplished athletes, many of whom will one day transition to new careers away from the football field," Kesner added.

“We are excited about the new opportunity the Indiana University Kelley School of Business is offering our players,” said NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith. “We pride ourselves in helping our members be knowledgeable about the business of football and putting them on the right path to succeed off the field. This relationship will achieve both.”

Among the tools that will be available to players is the Kelley School's acclaimed Me Inc. program, which enables participants to gain a better understanding of their goals and identifies a structured path toward attaining them. The program includes career coaching and career services.

After completion of the initial career development program, players may continue and enroll in online, noncredit programs on specialty topics such as personal finance, real estate, wealth management and entrepreneurship.

Upon completion of a noncredit professional program, players interested in developing more expertise will be able to enroll in a four-course certificate program. Many players will be able to directly enroll in the credit-bearing certificate programs as well.

Credits earned through the certificate programs will be transferable toward a 30-credit Master of Science degree or a 45-credit MBA. The programs will be delivered in a blended format that includes in-residence and online components.

A key feature of the NFLPA-Kelley MBA program will be the Kelley Capstone Experience, which puts teams of students to work on real-world strategic projects. This will provide students with an opportunity to apply skills and knowledge acquired in the MBA program to actual business problems that directly relate to each person's goals and objectives.

Those in the NFLPA-Kelley MBA program also will have an opportunity to participate in the school's global immersion courses, which present students with opportunities to understand and address problems faced by businesses in an emerging market. Currently the program is undertaking projects in India, Myanmar, Botswana, Ghana and South Africa.

All graduates of the NFLPA-Kelley MBA program who are interested in pursuing corporate careers will receive support from the same career services available to other Kelley graduates. In its most recent survey of MBA programs, Bloomberg Businessweek ranked Kelley No. 1 in terms of student satisfaction, career services and teaching.

Kelley was the first top-15 business school in the United States to develop an online MBA program. Ranked No. 1 earlier this year by U.S. News & World Report, the school has offered online education to corporate-sponsored employees and individuals for 15 years. Clients include Fortune 500 firms such as General Electric, General Motors, Ingersoll-Rand, John Deere and Cummins Engine Co.

The NFLPA-Kelley partnership is one example of customized education at the school. For more information aboutExecutive Degree Programs, call 812-856-5366.

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2015 Best Colleges Preview: Top 10 Business Programs

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Interested in exploring the rankings of these schools and others? Visit usnews.com on Sept. 9.

Applying to college is a journey that involves finding the right schoolsubmitting applications and then – if you're lucky – choosing among the acceptance letters and financial aid awards to find that place you'll call home for the next few years.

To steer you in the right direction, U.S. News surveys colleges and universities each year and ranks nearly 1,400 of them in different categories according to our methodology.

Here, we offer a sneak peek of the 2015 Best Colleges rankings.

These schools – listed alphabetically below – offer the top 10 Best Undergraduate Business Programs. These programs are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and were ranked based on a peer assessment survey conducted in spring 2014.

School (name) (state)
Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper) (PA)
Indiana University—Bloomington (Kelley)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan)
New York University (Stern)
University of California—Berkeley (Haas)
University of Michigan—Ann Arbor (Ross)
University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler)
University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
University of Texas—Austin (McCombs)
University of Virginia (McIntire)

The actual Best Undergraduate Business Programs rankings of these and other schools will be available Sept. 9, 2014, on usnews.com.

To see full rankings, SAT and ACT scores, scholarship and grant information, graduation rates and more, sign up for the U.S. News College Compass.

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August 27, 2014 News Release Indianapolis, Ind. -- Sherry Rose, a seasoned economic development and marketing manager, will se

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Two local businesses were among 27 companies from across Indiana honored Wednesday as outstanding second-stage companies during the seventh annual Indiana Companies to Watch awards in Indianapolis.

The two local award recipients are RS2 Technologies in Munster and Peepers Reading Glasses, which is located in Michigan City and a division and brand of Sammann Co.

“We at RS2 are very pleased and honored to have been chosen as one of the 27 awardees in the 2014 Indiana Companies to Watch competition,” said RS2 Managing Partner Doug Robinson. “We want to thank all our employees, our dealer/integrators, the end users of our access control products and our suppliers and integration partners for helping us achieve this distinction.”

Founded by Robinson, Gary Staley and Robert Sulek, RS2 manufactures security systems.

“We provide card access systems like those used at Munster Community Hospital and other locations around the world,” Staley said.

RS2 Technologies software is used to control company access through computerized cards. RS2 also designs and prints the accompanying logo-bearing employee photo badges.

“We have 17,000 systems deployed worldwide,” Staley said.

RS2 has grown during the past 16 years, beginning with six staff members in 1998. It now has 18 employees in their Munster corporate headquarters and also have offices in California, Texas, Missouri, Ohio and Georgia, Staley said.

“When we started we all left a company in Illinois because of tax reasons and because of the locations in which our partners lived,” Staley said. “This has been working out very well for the cost of our building and offices are much less than it would have been in Illinois and our taxes are way less. The back of our building is about 15 feet from the state line. Those 15 feet means thousands or even hundreds of thousands in savings.”

Peepers co-owner Alec Sammann said the company is honored to receive the award.

“We’re extremely excited and honored to be one of the 27 Indiana companies to watch,” Sammann said. “Our passion for design combined with experience in the eyewear market has allowed us to bring affordable, fashion forward reading glasses to the people. We’re excited to see where the next few years take us as we continue to grow and innovate within the eyewear market.”

Sammann describes Peepers as “a leading designer and marketer of innovative, expressive reading glasses and sunglasses for both men and women.”

“Our products can be found at thousands of retailers throughout the United States including gift shops, book stores, optical goods stores, grocery stores and many other premium retail outlets under the brands of Peepers, SpecSee and PeeperSpecs," Sammann said.

The awards program is presented by the Indiana Office of Small Business and Entrepreneurship, its Indiana Small Business Development Center and the Indiana Economic Development Corp., and endorsed by the Edward Lowe Foundation.

Companies to Watch is an awards program that celebrates Indiana’s privately-held second-stage companies – those businesses that are past the startup phase – are considered to be established, and face issues of growth, not survival. This year, 165 companies from across Indiana were nominated.

"This year's class of Companies to Watch illustrates the creativity and business skills of Hoosier entrepreneurs," Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann said in a news release. "They are already making meaningful contributions to our economy and creating jobs in a variety of business enterprises. I congratulate them on their success and demonstrating that Indiana is 'a state that works' for small business.”

Companies honored represent a variety of industries and have headquarters based in 12 counties throughout the state. From 2010 through 2013, these companies generated $379 million in revenue and added 622 employees, reflecting a 120 percent increase in revenue and 96 percent increase in jobs for the four-year period.

Companies to Watch firms must employ between six and 150 full-time equivalent employees, have between $750,000 and $100 million in annual revenue or working capital in place, and demonstrate the intent and capacity to grow based on employee or sales growth, exceptional entrepreneurial leadership, sustainable competitive advantage or other notable strengths.

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IEDC Names Outside Sales Director

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Indianapolis, Ind. -- Sherry Rose, a seasoned economic development and marketing manager, will serve as the director of outside sales of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC).

In her role at the state's job hunting agency, Rose will spearhead strategies and opportunities to tell Indiana's story on the national stage to attract companies to do business in Indiana and help companies currently located in Indiana establish a successful foundation to bring more jobs to the state. This will include identifying and organizing opportunities to meet and interact with chief executives, increasing lead generation, pursuing business attraction prospects and facilitating community and economic development opportunities with community leaders statewide.

"Indiana is one of the best products in the world to sell, and it is in high demand," said Victor Smith, Indiana Secretary of Commerce. "With the best workforce in the country and our predictable, low cost of doing business, Indiana enables businesses to save money and create more jobs. Sherry will connect with long-standing Indiana companies, as well as attract out-of-state businesses that would gain a competitive advantage in Indiana, helping fill our pipeline with promising leads that will maximize opportunities to win more jobs for Hoosiers."

Rose joins the IEDC after an extensive 16-year career in economic, community, commercial and industrial development at Wabash Valley Power. While serving in various development capacities, she most recently led the group's efforts to attract new economic development opportunities to its member systems through collaboration with local, regional and statewide stakeholders. With a focus on community development, Rose facilitated the establishment and development of local economic development programs in more than a dozen counties across Indiana.

"Identifying and evolving the strategy and elements that are needed for companies and communities to achieve success has been my focus for more than a decade," said Rose. "I am excited to put that experience to work with the IEDC team, following leads and showing companies why Indiana is a state that works for business, in turn helping to create jobs and opportunities for Hoosiers in all corners of our state."

Prior to joining Wabash Valley Power, Rose also served in marketing and sales capacities with Bell Atlantic and GTE Mobilnet. She is a graduate of Kent State University and has served as president of the Indiana Economic Development Association and the National Rural Economic Development Association.

Rose's arrival comes on the heels of the most successful economic development start to a year in IEDC history. Already in 2014, the IEDC has secured job commitments from 188 companies that project to create more than 18,300 new jobs and invest more than $3.4 billion in their Indiana operations.

"This is already a record-breaking economic development year for Indiana and the growth of existing companies and the attraction of new business to the state is paramount to our continued success," said Smith. "With new additions to the IEDC team like Sherry on board to continue to broadcast Indiana’s story to more and more companies, Indiana is poised to build on that forward momentum."

About IEDC
Created in 2005 to replace the former Department of Commerce, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation is governed by a 12-member board chaired by Governor Mike Pence. Victor Smith serves as the Indiana Secretary of Commerce and Eric Doden is the president of the IEDC.

The IEDC oversees programs enacted by the General Assembly including tax credits, workforce training grants and public infrastructure assistance. All tax credits are performance-based. Therefore, companies must first invest in Indiana through job creation or capital investment before incentives are paid. A company who does not meet its full projections only receives a percentage of the incentives proportional to its actual investment. For more information about IEDC, visit www.iedc.in.gov.

Source: Indiana Economic Development Corp.

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