General Mills Fuels Economic Growth in East Central Indiana, Announces Second $200M Blue Buffalo Expansion in Four Years
RICHMOND, Ind. (March 23, 2023) – Governor Eric J. Holcomb and Secretary of Commerce Brad Chambers today joined local officials and leaders and employees of Blue Buffalo, the nation’s leading natural pet food company, as they announced plans to expand the company’s operations in Richmond, creating 50-60 new jobs by the end of 2024.
“Indiana ranks number one in the U.S. for manufacturing output by innovating and producing the products that power our lives and feed our families,” said Gov. Holcomb. “As a proud pet parent myself, I know the importance of quality, and I’m thrilled that Blue Buffalo continues to put its trust in Richmond and in the Hoosiers that deliver its healthy products to households across the nation.”
“General Mills and Blue Buffalo are helping drive Richmond’s economy forward, investing in the East Central region and providing quality career opportunities for Hoosiers,” said Sec. Chambers. “The company is making a change economically while being a good corporate citizen, making changes and fulfilling global responsibility commitments to better our planet, people, community and food.”
Blue Buffalo, General Mills’ (NYSE: GIS) fastest growing global platform, will invest $200 million over two years to grow its Indiana operations, constructing and equipping a 169,000-square-foot addition to expand its processing operations and warehouse capacity. The expansion will increase the building’s footprint by more than 40 percent by adding another extruder line, three new packaging lines and an associated mix and transfer system, increasing its production of high-quality, natural dog and cat food, servicing customers across the U.S. and Canada. The company broke ground today and plans to complete the expansion by the end of 2024.
Today’s announcement comes just four years after General Mills celebrated the grand opening of its Blue Buffalo Richmond facility, a $200 million investment. The company employs more than 180 full-time associates in Wayne County and plans to hire additional production staff later this year to support its growth.
“The expansion of Blue Buffalo here in Richmond is indicative of our continued growth and leadership in the industry and will set us up to serve pets and pet parents for years to come,” said Terry Abner, plant manager at the Blue Buffalo Richmond plant. “Today marks the culmination of strong collaboration across local, state and agency partners and we’re eager to see this to fruition in the fall of 2024 when the lines will go online, and we’ll have 50-60 new team members to welcome into our plant community.”
Founded in 2003, Blue Buffalo offers a full portfolio of high-quality, natural food and treats that both dogs and cats love. It was founded on the simple idea: “Love them like family. Feed them like family.” BLUE Life Protection Formula, the brand’s flagship formula, launched a whole new way of feeding pets. The Blue Buffalo portfolio has grown to include a full range of products for all life stages, including BLUE Wilderness, BLUE Basics, BLUE Freedom, BLUE Natural Veterinary Diet, and more. Blue Buffalo was acquired by General Mills in 2018.
Blue Buffalo first announced plans to locate in Wayne County, Indiana, in 2016, establishing a 400,000-square-foot facility to produce BLUE Life Protection Formula, Wilderness, True Solutions, Basics and Freedom brands of dry dog and cat food.
“Blue Buffalo has established a strong professional relationship with local and state officials, and an impactful relationship with our community,” said Richmond Mayor Snow. “Their growth is a result of dedication to the quality of their product, and their positive business model which promotes a healthy and productive work environment. This investment is very meaningful to our local economy, and I am confident more success lies ahead.”
Based on the company’s job creation plans, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation committed an investment in Heartland Pet Food Manufacturing Indiana (dba Blue Buffalo) of up to $600,000 in the form of incentive-based tax credits. The IEDC also committed an investment of up to $100,000 in Hoosier Business Investment tax credits and up to $200,000 in Manufacturing Readiness Grants, which are designed to help companies invest in smart manufacturing and new technologies. These tax credits are performance-based, meaning the company is eligible to claim incentives once Hoosiers are hired. Wayne County will consider additional incentives to support the project.
About Blue Buffalo
Blue Buffalo, the country’s #1 natural pet food, started with a promise made to a lovable Airedale named Blue who struggled with cancer, the leading cause of death in dogs. His family, the Bishops, wanted to feed him the best food possible, so they searched for food with high-quality ingredients, but decided to create something even better – natural pet food for dogs and cats with nutritious ingredients, real meat first, and some of the highest standards in the industry. Since Day 1, BLUE’s team of veterinarians and animal nutritionists has carefully selected high-quality, natural ingredients and upheld its True BLUE Promise to dog and cat pet parents – real meat as the first ingredient with NO chicken (or poultry) by-product meals, NO corn, wheat or soy, and NO artificial flavors or preservatives. The result is a portfolio of high-quality, natural food and treats that both dogs and cats love. This simple idea: “Love them like family. Feed them like family.” lives on today in every Blue Buffalo recipe.’
About General Mills
General Mills makes food the world loves. The company is guided by its Accelerate strategy to drive shareholder value by boldly building its brands, relentlessly innovating, unleashing its scale and standing for good. Its portfolio of beloved brands includes household names such as Cheerios, Nature Valley, Blue Buffalo, Häagen-Dazs, Old El Paso, Pillsbury, Betty Crocker, Yoplait, Annie’s, Wanchai Ferry, Yoki and more. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, General Mills generated fiscal 2022 net sales of U.S. $19.0 billion. In addition, the company’s share of non-consolidated joint venture net sales totaled U.S. $1.1 billion.
The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) is charged with growing the State economy, driving economic development, helping businesses launch, grow and locate in the state. Led by Secretary of Commerce Brad Chambers, @SecChambersIN, and governed by a 15-member board chaired by Governor Eric J. Holcomb, @GovHolcomb, the IEDC manages many initiatives, including performance-based tax credits, workforce training grants, innovation and entrepreneurship resources, public infrastructure assistance, and talent attraction and retention efforts. For more information about the IEDC, visit iedc.in.gov.
Mollie Wulff (General Mills) – 763-764.6364 or Media.Line@genmills.com
Erin Sweitzer (IEDC) – 317.296.2556 or email@example.com
For Immediate Release
March 8, 2023
Richmond, Ind. - A former Indiana University Bloomington professor of African-American studies and criminal justice with broad, collaborative experience in academic and student affairs will serve as chancellor of IU East pending approval of the IU Board of Trustees.
Dennis M. Rome will assume the role July 1, overseeing all aspects of the academic and operational components of the campus, in collaboration with university administration and other Indiana University regional campuses.
Rome currently serves as assistant to the president for community engagement and strategic partnerships at Northeastern Illinois University, moving from his previous position as provost and vice president for academic affairs.
“Dr. Rome brings a long tenure of academic leadership experience to the campus” said Susan Sciame-Giesecke, IU vice president for regional campuses and online education. “I am thrilled he is returning to IU after having served as an executive at a campus very similar to IU East. We are fortunate to have attracted such an accomplished leader. The campus is well suited for success.”
During his tenure at NIEU, Rome led the creation of Living Learning Centers for students that included Social Justice, Honors, STEM, and Teachers Preparation themes. He partnered with academic units to improve the integrity of instructional budgets while also joining forces with academic deans for the creation of new and essential academic programs.
A former Fulbright Scholar and Carnegie National Scholar, Rome has received numerous awards for his public service and leadership. A strong believer in community service, he sat on the boards of the Boys and Girls Club in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and the Liberty Theatre in Columbus, Georgia, and he was twice appointed as a public member on the Wisconsin State Joint Legislative Council. While at IU, he received the prestigious Teaching Excellence Recognition Award three years in a row.
“I am honored to be joining the IU East community at such a pivotal time,” Rome said. “The direction of the campus and the vision of President Pamela Whitten for Indiana University is galvanizing, and the regional campuses will contribute much to its success through solid student success strategies. I look forward to working closely with Vice President Sciame-Giesecke to move the IU 2030 Strategic Plan forward at IU East, and build strong community partnerships in eastern Indiana.”
Rome is an esteemed author, having published three books and numerous book chapters and research articles on various aspects of sociology and criminal justice.
Before joining the Northeastern Illinois executive team, Rome served as dean of the College of Letters and Sciences at Columbus State University in Georgia and as associate provost and associate vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. He holds his B.S. from Bradley University, a master's in sociology from Howard University and a Ph.D. from Washington State University.
Media Relations Manager
Annual Dinner 2023
January 20, 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
The Wayne County Area Chamber of Commerce celebrated 32 businesses, individuals, and organizations with more than 600 members in attendance for their Annual Dinner Friday night. In addition to awards and entertainment, the group heard from 2022 Board Chair Brian Ballenger of Whisenhunt Construction as well as incoming 2023 Board Chair Jeff Carter of Bethany Theological Seminary.
This year’s “Wayne County – The Incredible Machine” theme showcased all things in Wayne County working together to drive the machine called community. “We celebrate Wayne County’s story of progress and highlight institutions and individuals who add to our collective and greater good,” Carter said.
Carter discussed various sectors coming to the table to lend their skills and time in situations such as the pandemic or the death of Officer Burton. “As we witnessed, this community, Chamber included, is at its best when all the pieces are connected, working in relationship with one another, and focused on a common purpose and mission. Yes, when working together, we are an incredible machine.”
The highest individual honor awarded by the Chamber was the 2022 Art Vivian Distinguished Community Leader going to Bob Bever of Boston Bever Forrest Cross & Sickmann (BBFCS Attorneys). “Serving on the Chamber Board for 30 years, many as an officer, Bob is one of the people that I have grown to treasure,” said Chamber President and CEO Melissa Vance. “He is a strong advocate for our community and our Chamber member businesses, and he has assisted numerous businesses launching and growing right here in Wayne County.”
Bever was instrumental in the creation and continuation of the largest law firm in East Central Indiana, BBFCS Attorneys. Bever was also closely involved in the creation of Wayne County’s Economic Development Corporation. He serves as legal counsel for the towns of Cambridge City and Dublin, and previously served as counsel for the City of Richmond.
He has served numerous nonprofit organizations including 20 years on the YMCA Board of Directors. Other board service includes Forest Hills Country Club, Reid Health Foundation, and Junior Achievement.
Also a big winner for the evening was Blue Buffalo, the 2022 Corporation of the Year. The business made their home in Richmond in 2016 and has since grown to 187 employees in a 450,000 square foot facility. The company is built on the purpose of “loving their herd, their brand and their community like family.”
Ivy Tech Chancellor Chad Bolser said, “As they began their journey in Richmond, they spent about a year with us on campus. I think the thing we noticed most about Blue Buffalo is they talked about their corporate culture.”
“From the first visit to Richmond, I knew this company was special, and they needed to be here,” added Economic Development Corporation President Valerie Shaffer.
Richmond Art Museum (RAM) was recognized with the Achievement in Excellence for a Nonprofit Award. The organization is celebrating its 125th anniversary as the second oldest art museum in the State of Indiana. It is housed within Richmond High School.
“I am in my 9th year as a member of the RAM Board of Trustees,” said former Indiana University East Chancellor Kathy Girten. “I have been continually impressed by its commitment to excellence. We are often the only art museum children in the region ever get to visit, and we are also the only art museum in the state with free admission.”
RAM operates a mobile outreach program to schools taking art directly to students with their “VanGo”. According to Centerville High School art teacher Chris Evrard, high school art students benefit by the short drive to view important, significant works of art. “One of the recent exhibits talked about respect and diversity…. It let them know their work can help impact people in a positive way.”
The second cohort of the Wayne County Leads (WC Leads) program was recognized. Aimed at young professionals under the age of 40, to program brought 10 professional development workshops on topics like leadership, community involvement, overcoming obstacles. Each member was partnered with a mentor who met with them during the program and will likely remain a mentor afterward. The recognized graduates were:
Other winners for the night included:
Volunteer of the Year: Sharrie Harlin-Davis, Reid Health
Champion of Diversity: Megan Johnson, Blue Buffalo
Bob Rosa Buy Local Award: Alan & Jackie Carberry, Warm Glow Candle Co.
Partner in Education: Future Achievers
Outstanding Service to Agriculture: Dr. Christy Herr
Achievement of Excellence – Small Business: Western Wayne News
Achievement of Excellence – Large Business: Wayne Bank
Public Service Award – Ken Paust, Retired Wayne County Commissioner
Educator of the Year – Kevin Munchel, Lincoln High School
Excellence in Higher Education – Tim Scales, Indiana University East
Outstanding Young Professional – Traci McCollum, Corner Café at the Leland
Each of the Chamber’s six committees named outstanding members as well:
Awards, Celebrations & Events Committee: Doug Macias, Natco Credit Union
Business & Education Committee: Theresa Lindsey, Economic Development Corporation of Wayne County
Buy Local Committee: Amy Dillon, Brewer Broadcasting
HYPE Wayne County: Terri Mitchell, Bethany Theological Seminary
Issues & Advocacy Committee: Eric Marsh, Whitewater Community Television
Member Outreach Committee: Paul Moore, Reid Health
The 2024 Chamber Annual Dinner will be held on January 19th, 2024.
Richmond Forecast 2023
By Indiana Business Review, Indiana Business Research Center, IU East Business and Economic Research Center
Richmond, the seat of Wayne County, is located on the eastern border of Indiana. Throughout this article, the Richmond region refers to seven east-central Indiana counties: Fayette, Franklin, Henry, Randolph, Rush, Union and Wayne.
As of 2022 Q1, the largest industry sectors in the Richmond region are manufacturing (13,218 jobs); retail trade (7,770 jobs); health care and social services (7,747 jobs); and accommodation and food services (5,365 jobs) (see Table 1).
According to 2020 U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis data,1 Wayne County had the largest population and earned the highest total income in the region: approximately 32% of both the region’s total income ($9.47 billion) and total population (207,423 people). Wayne County was followed by Henry County, which earned 22% of the region’s total income and had 23% of the region’s total population.
Wayne County’s per capita personal income (PCPI) was $45,499, a growth of 7.3% from 2019. This was 88% of Indiana’s PCPI ($51,926) and 76% of U.S. PCPI ($59,510). Franklin County ($51,316) and Rush County ($49,889) had the highest PCPI values in the region. In fact, Wayne County experienced the least PCPI growth in 2020, up 7.3% from 2019, whereas Randolph County experienced the most growth with 12.6%, followed by Union County at 10.1% growth.
In this article, we will discuss the recent performance of key components of the regional economy, as well as Richmond’s 2023 economic outlook.
Labor marketWayne County’s labor force was made up of 30,025 people in August 2022, representing 31.1% of the region’s total labor force (96,457 people). The county had a January-August monthly labor force of 29,521 people in 2022, down 0.36% (or 107 people) from 2021. While Franklin County (11,426 people), Henry County (22,332 people) and Randolph County (11,797 people) also maintained labor forces over 10,000 people in August 2022, the remaining counties in the region had much smaller labor forces. Between 2021 and 2022, Randolph County (+3.95%) saw the greatest growth in January-August monthly labor force, while Fayette County (-2.11%) recorded the greatest decline. The monthly labor force average for the entire region was 95,570 people, up 0.59% or 561 people from 2021 (see Figure 1).
Figure 1: Richmond region labor force and unemployment rateNote: Data are not seasonally adjusted.
Source: Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Over the first eight months of 2022, Fayette County had the highest monthly unemployment rate at 4%, while all the other counties in the region experienced unemployment rates both below 2.9% and below the same time period last year. While Wayne County recovered the most in the region from an unemployment rate perspective (down nearly 1.3 percentage points from 4.2% in 2021), Union County experienced the least improvement (down 0.6 percentage points from its already low monthly average of 2.8% in 2021). The overall January-August monthly unemployment rate for the region was about the same as Indiana at 2.8%, but compared favorably with that of the U.S. (3.8%).2
Jobs and wagesThe region added 1,765 new jobs to the private sector in Q1 of 2022 (see Table 1), with the greatest contributions from manufacturing (+633 jobs) and health care and social services (+559 jobs), followed by transportation and warehousing (+296 jobs) and construction (+250 jobs). Other sectors that expanded by more than 100 jobs included retail trade (+107 jobs); professional, scientific and technical (+113 jobs); arts, entertainment and recreation (+110 jobs); and other services (except public administration) (+140 jobs). On the other hand, agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting (-233 jobs) lost the most jobs, followed by administrative, support, waste management and remediation (-145 jobs).
Table 1: Employment by industryNAICS classificationRegionIndiana
2022 Q1One-year change2022 Q1One-year change
Transportation and warehousing1,341(D)296(ED)161,47510,134
Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting40(D)-233(ED)14,77449
Finance and insurance1,548(D)-51(ED)102,0962,633
Real estate and rental and leasing3501334,867604
Professional, scientific and technical1,082(D)113(ED)138,85211,146
Management of companies and enterprises349(D)-10(ED)35,5012,044
Administrative, support, waste management and remediation2,474(D)-145(ED)184,25611,353
Health care and social services7,747(D)559(ED)409,6791,774
Arts, entertainment and recreation330(D)110(ED)32,8102,799
Accommodation and food services5,365(D)61(ED)255,54325,440
Other services (except public administration)1,644(D)140(ED)86,1914,690Notes: (D) indicates data with one or more counties excluded due to disclosure issues and (ED) indicates an estimate made based on such data for 2021 Q1 and/or 2022 Q1.
Source: Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, downloaded via Hoosiers by the Numbers.
The management of companies and enterprises sector (+42%) experienced the highest percentage growth in weekly wages, while the arts, entertainment and recreation sector (-14.5%) underwent the highest percentage drop in the region (see Table 2). Other sectors that suffered a decline in weekly wages were agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting (-9.6%) and information (-2.8%). The remaining sectors all experienced growth in weekly wages ranging from 0.2% in utilities to 14.7% in transportation and warehousing.
Table 2: Average weekly wage by industryNAICS classificationRegionIndiana
2022 Q1One-year change2022 Q1One-year change
Transportation and warehousing$1,000(D)14.7%(ED)$99311.2%
Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting$680(D)-9.6%(ED)$8508.0%
Finance and insurance$1,341(D)12.1%(ED)$1,9425.0%
Real estate and rental and leasing$6314.1%$1,16815.3%
Professional, scientific and technical$910(D)7.9%(ED)$1,5419.8%
Management of companies and enterprises$2,064(D)42.0%(ED)$2,96617.2%
Administrative, support, waste management and remediation$691(D)12.2%(ED)$81716.2%
Health care and social services$993(D)6.8%(ED)$1,12915.4%
Arts, entertainment and recreation$355(D)-14.5%(ED)$87220.4%
Accommodation and food services$319(D)8.1%(ED)$38612.9%
Other services (except public administration)$511(D)3.9%(ED)$7357.9%Notes: (D) indicates data with one or more counties excluded due to disclosure issues and (ED) indicates an estimate made based on such data for 2021 Q1 and/or 2022 Q1.
Source: Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, downloaded via Hoosiers by the Numbers.
Housing marketOver the first eight months of 2022, Randolph County saw the greatest percentage increase in both new listings (+20.7% to 181 homes) and closed sales (+26.4% to 163 homes), while Union County experienced the greatest percentage decline in both measures (-69.2% to 4 homes and -57.1% to 3 homes, respectively) when comparing to the same period of 2021 (see Table 3). All counties in the region recorded an increase in median price, ranging from Franklin County (+6.3% to $243,000) to Union County (+139.2% to $215,000).
On the other hand, new listings in Indiana remained about the same (-0.1% to 74,827 homes) whereas closed sales were down by 4.4% to 61,183 homes, despite the median price increasing by 13.3% to $235,000. The closed sales/new listings ratios of the counties suggest that Henry County (97%) had the fastest-selling housing market in 2022, while Fayette County (74.1%) had the slowest market in the region. Other counties that compared favorably with the state (81.8%) were Randolph County (90.1%) and Wayne County (86.3%).
Table 3: Housing market update New listingsClosed salesMedian price
202120222022 change202120222022 change202120222022 change
Wayne County693626-9.7%653540-17.3%$115,000$130,50013.5%Note: Year-to-date data (including detached single-family homes, condos and townhomes) reflect January through August data.
Source: Indiana Real Estate Markets Report by the Indiana Association of Realtors
OutlookThe IU East Regional Business Confidence Index (IUERBCI) and its sub-indexes, composed from local business operators’ responses to the annual business survey conducted in the region, all declined in 2022 (see Table 4). The IUERBCI decreased by 3.6% to 88.58 points, indicating that businesses in the region had less confidence in doing business in 2022 as compared with the year before. At the same time, its Present Situation sub-index (83.49 points) decreased by 2.6% while its Expectation sub-index (91.44 points) also dropped by 5.1%. Both declines suggest that surveyed businesses in the region experienced a worse year in 2022 than the year before, and that they also have a worse outlook for 2023 than they did for 2022.
Table 4: IU East Regional Business Confidence Index and its sub-indexes 20212022 20212022
IU East Regional Business Confidence Index value91.9388.58IU East Regional Business Confidence Index score2,2222,141
Annual change -3.6%
Present Situation Index value85.6983.49Present Situation Index score898875
Annual change -2.6%
Expectation Index value96.4091.44Expectation Index score991940
Annual change -5.1% Source: The 2022 East-Central Indiana Business Survey, conducted by IU East Business and Economic Research Center, September-October 2022.
Over half (54.9%) of the surveyed businesses were able to increase their production/business activities in 2022. About 15% were hiring fewer employees than last year and less than one tenth (8.2%) reduced their capital investment. Although more than 85% of the businesses have suffered from an increase in their cost of doing business (51.9% of business owners/managers reported a significant increase of more than 5% in business costs while 33.6% reported a slight increase of less than 5%), only about one-third (34.1%) of them had seen a decline in their profitability.
Looking forward to 2023, 85.6% of the surveyed businesses expect to increase or maintain their current production/business activity. While 61.8% of the businesses anticipate maintaining their current employment level, 6.9% have plans to reduce their number of employees and 31.3% anticipate hiring more employees. More than 90% of the surveyed businesses plan on maintaining (60.3%) or increasing (30.1%) their capital investments. Of the businesses surveyed, 43.9% of the businesses expect to see an increase in their profitability, despite 82.3% of the survey participants anticipating an increase in the cost of doing business.
While a quarter (24.6%) of the surveyed businesses anticipate the same business and economic conditions in 2023, close to half (47%) of them were optimistic and only 28.3% were pessimistic about conditions in 2023.
During the September Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting, the Federal Reserve’s forecasts3 for the U.S. were:
On the other hand, the Conference Board (CB) was more aligned with the IMF on the U.S. real GDP growth rates of 1.5% and 0% for 2022 and 2023, respectively.5 After considering persistently high inflation and the Fed’s aggressiveness to bring it down, the CB predicted a recession to occur before the end of 2022.
SummaryAlthough the impact of COVID-19 on businesses has appeared to weaken gradually, relatively high inflation and the disruption in the supply chain due to various reasons continue to present challenges to business operations in the region. As a result, we project that the unemployment rate for the region will likely swing in a wide range around 3% through 2023.
Wayne County Area Chamber of Commerce Announces New Director of Membership & Education
Richmond, Ind. – Wayne County native Shawntel Baker will join the Wayne County Area Chamber of Commerce team in 2023. Bringing significant experience in both the education and business sectors, she will serve as the Director of Membership & Education.
Baker is a graduate of Centerville High School and attended Indiana University East. She currently serves as a school board member for Northeastern Wayne Schools. In addition, she has held leadership positions with the Northeastern Music Boosters and PTO. She has also coached cheerleading as well as basketball for both Northeastern and Randolph Southern Schools.
While Baker’s career includes time managing projects in the insurance and human resources sectors, she also served as Deputy Treasurer for Randolph Southern School Corporation. “I have worn many hats at the same time,” Baker said. “I am sure this experience will be valuable as I step into the Chamber world.”
“It was important for us to find someone who could move our current initiatives forward, but also have the leadership skills to work collaboratively with our members and community partners,” said President & CEO Melissa Vance. “I am excited to find these qualities in Shawntel and look forward to working with her.”
The position serves as the staff lead for the Business & Education Committee, Membership Outreach Committee, and HYPE Wayne County. Baker will work with the volunteer committees to lead initiatives such as the Career and Hiring Fairs with local high school students. She will also focus on growing benefits for existing members and work one-on-one with new members, helping them through the orientation process.
HYPE Wayne County is amid its second leadership cohort, WC Leads. This applicationbased program graduates no more than 12 per year and will be recognized at the Chamber’s upcoming Annual Dinner on January 20, 2023. This group learns from area experts on subjects like project management, developing a team, emotional intelligence, and communications.
The Chamber has about 540 current members serving the Wayne County area. Three other staff members work with numerous member volunteers and a board of 30 community leaders. Lynnette Davis serves as the Director of Events and works with the Buy Local Committee. Deborah Holdorff is the office’s administrative assistant, and Melissa Vance leads the organization as the President & CEO.
“I am so proud to have such a high-functioning team that is passionate about serving others,” Vance said. “We are equally fortunate to have excellent board members who offer leadership, support, and advocacy for our business community. The New Year is looking very promising for Wayne County!”
Revive I-70 is expected to improve traffic flow and safety
Richmond, IN (Dec. 12, 2022) – An Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) project is expected to improve and expand I-70 in Wayne County. Revive I-70 will reduce congestion, improve traffic flow and improve safety along the corridor. The 20+ mile corridor stretches from west of Cambridge City to the Indiana/Ohio state line.
The project is expected to include added travel lanes, interchange improvements, bridge improvements, pavement replacement and the replacement of drainage structures. At the end of construction, I-70 will expand from a four-lane interstate with two travel lanes in each direction to a six-lane interstate with three lanes in each direction.
The 40 bridges in the project area are all expected to be widened to accommodate additional travel lanes. Additional bridge improvements are being planned, including complete replacements, deck replacements, deck overlays and painting.
The Project Team is also looking at two key interchanges – the I-70 and US 40 interchange and the I-70 and US 35/Williamsburg Pike interchange – to identify modifications to improve safety and mobility.
Details of specific improvements are still being developed.
Public Meeting Early Next Year
A public meeting is expected in early 2023 to share more information about the project and provide the opportunity for members of the public to ask questions and share their comments with members of the Project Team. Public input is an important part of project development. Meeting details will be shared closer to date.
The Revive I-70 website launched today, along with Facebook (LINK) and Twitter (LINK) pages. People interested in Revive I-70 are encouraged to follow the project on social media and sign up for updates by email on the project website or text “INDOT ReviveI70” to 468311.
Revive I-70 is in the environmental and preliminary design stage. Activities include traffic analysis, maintenance of traffic plans, road design and survey work. The Project Team is coordinating with local, state and federal officials throughout the project.
A public hearing is expected in spring 2023 and will be followed by a formal comment period.
Construction is expected to begin in late 2024. Duration will depend on project development, construction phasing and future funding.
About Revive I-70
Revive I-70 includes improvements being planned for I-70 in Wayne County from west of Cambridge City to the Indiana/Ohio state line. The corridor is more than 20 miles long. Improvements are expected to include added travel lanes, interchange improvements, bridge improvements and pavement replacement.
The INDOT project is expected to reduce corridor congestion, improve traffic flow and improve safety along this section of I-70. The project is in the environmental and preliminary design stage.
Find more information at ReviveI70.com and follow the project on Facebook and Twitter.
About the Indiana Department of Transportation
INDOT continues to solidify the Hoosier State as the Crossroads of America by implementing Gov. Eric J. Holcomb’s $30 billion Next Level Roads plan. With six district offices and 3,500 employees, the agency is responsible for constructing and maintaining more than 29,000 lane miles of highways, more than 5,700 bridges, and supporting 4,500 rail miles and 117 airports across the state.
INDOT was recently ranked #1 in the United States for infrastructure in CNBC’s 2022 “America’s Top States for Business” ranking. Learn more about INDOT at in.gov/indot.
COVID and labor shortages have caused a lot of businesses to reevaluate offerings and pivot how they did business. But if you’re like many business owners, while adapting to customer needs was a critical component to staying in business, you may now realize that you are off track.
It’s important to provide value to customers but veering too far away from your true business can cause you to take on too much too soon. For a pre-COVID example, when restaurant Planet Hollywood experienced great success initially, they spread themselves too thin ultimately forcing a lot of location closures. If you made a change to your business during the pandemic to meet customer needs, it might be time to reevaluate what was done and see if it is still in keeping with your business mission and vision.
Ways Businesses Change and What They Mean TodayThere are many reasons to change your business. Some changes may provide long-term solutions others are short term panaceas. But if you did any of the following over the past three years, it may be time to reevaluate whether these changes are still serving you and your customers.
New OfferingsDuring the pandemic and subsequent inflationary times, many of us implemented things that are outside our usual offerings because it was a way to stay in our customers’ lives and entice them to continue opening their wallets for us.
It’s probably time to reevaluate those new offerings. Were they a good addition to what your business did before? Are they making you money? Are they providing a needed solution for your customers? Have they caused your employees or customers to become more loyal? Do you still enjoy the work you are doing?
All these things are good indicators of whether those changes were just a needed bandage to get you through tough times or something you should keep going and grow.
LimitsDid you limit your business in any way to survive the pandemic? For instance, many restaurants created shorter menus or rearranged their seating areas. Do the limits you’ve placed on your business still serve you? Maybe you’ve found that by limiting choices, you’ve perfected the upsell. Maybe your roomier interior design has encouraged people to spend more time browsing and thus increased sales or maybe the opposite has happened. Maybe you’ve decided you need more tables again and it’s time to bring them back. Revisit the limits you implemented for survival and see how they suit you now. Are they contributing to growth or limiting it?
Services and ProductsMany product selling businesses looked for ways to sell services and many service based companies started selling a line of products during the pandemic. How are those new areas serving you? Did they open a new market or are they languishing? Are you marketing those things with growth in mind or were they just to get you through the tough times?
Working from HomeMany businesses allowed employees to work from home and now they’re finding difficulties in convincing people to return to the office or hiring new people who want to work outside of the home. It might be time to reevaluate your office space needs. You may find it’s cheaper to operate out of your home and use your local chamber or business incubator for meetings (if they have space).
Nearly three years since the pandemic began and with an inflationary period on our doorsteps, it’s likely a good time to reexamine the changes you implemented for your business. Are those changes still serving you or is it time to sunset them?
Christina Metcalf is a writer/ghostwriter who believes in the power of story. She works with small businesses, chambers of commerce, and business professionals who want to make an impression and grow a loyal
WQLK Wins 3 Awards
WQLK (Kicks 96 - Richmond, IN) took home 3 awards at the 2022 edition of the Indiana Broadcasters Association Spectrum Awards on October 4th in Carmel, IN. Kicks 96 claimed Station of the Year, Broadcast Personality or Team (Kicks Morning Crew - Sean Lamb & Dave Patrick), and Newscast (Jeff Lane) awards. You can hear their entries and see the complete list of winners, plus video of the awards presentation at https://www.indianabroadcasters.org/.
Pictured are Sean Lamb and Dave Patrick with their Broadcast Personality or Team award.
This quarter, the MetLife and U.S. Chamber Small Business Index found that small businesses’ concern about inflation has reached the highest level since Q3 of last year. Here are five data points from this quarter’s report that show how inflation is hurting small business owners.
1. Inflation is the top challenge facing the small business community
Half (50%) of small businesses now say inflation is the top challenge facing the small business community. This marks the fifth consecutive quarter of increasing concern over inflation and represents a dramatic 31-point increase since this time last year (when only 19% said inflation was a top challenge).
Inflation is the top concern for small businesses regardless of their location, number of employees, or sector.
2. Most believe inflation will get worse
According to the report, most small businesses anticipate inflation will get worse. Seven in ten (71%) believe the worst is still to come with regards to inflation.
Karen Olson Beenken, president and CEO of Blue Rock Companies, in Sidney, Montana, says she finds inflation everywhere she turns.
“Payroll is up because we have to pay more to retain and attract employees,” Beenken says. “The cost of fuel is up. The cost of freight is up significantly—and it’s gotten more and more difficult for us to get freight companies to come to our rural markets as frequently as they used to. Our health insurance was up this year. Those are all big cost inputs, and they are all up significantly. These are very challenging times for our business.”
3. Higher costs for goods/supplies hurting the most
The cost of goods and fuel/utility bills are where small businesses most often report feeling inflation. Among small business owners that say rising prices have had a significant impact on their business (83% of respondents), most cite the cost of goods and supplies (65%) and utilities or fuel (50%) as where they have seen the most impact.
4. Small businesses forced to raise their prices
To keep up with inflation, many small businesses report having to raise the prices they charge customers.
“Our suppliers have passed on expenses to us, and we held on as long as we could before passing them along to our clients,” says Julianne Weiner, COO of Sonic Promos in Gaithersburg, Maryland. “Logistics [shipping and fulfillment] seem to be absorbing the worst. Though with gas prices back in the more normal range, maybe that will decrease a bit, too.”
To cope with inflation, 7 in 10 small businesses report raising prices in response to inflationary pressures, followed by those who say they have taken out a loan (40%), reduced staff (37%), or reduced the quality of their products or services (31%).
Tom Richter, principal owner of JAN-PRO of Utah based in Midvale, Utah says he’s also had to raise prices.
“Inflation has impacted our business in many ways,” Richter says. “Gas increases have required us to increase prices across the board to customers. Raw material increases have impacted chemicals and equipment used in our business. Our franchise owners have had to increase their wages to their employees doing the daily work.”
5. Most say combatting inflation should be top policy priority
When asked to choose, more small businesses said fighting inflation should be the priority over avoiding another economic downturn.
Over half (59%) of small businesses believe the priority right now should be reducing inflation and 41% would prioritize avoiding an economic downturn.
However, interest rate hikes aren’t a negligible concern. Forty percent of small businesses say they are very concerned about the impact of interest rates rising on their business (up 11 percentage points from Q1 2022).
The big picture
Amid concern around inflation, the Small Business Index score dropped this quarter to 62.1, down from 66.8 last quarter. This is the largest drop in the Index since the start of the pandemic and the drop comes from small businesses saying they are now less confident in both the national economy and their current cash flow.
The Q3 2022 survey was conducted between July 21 - August 8, 2022. For more findings from this quarter,and to explore and browse years of small business data, see our full SBI Index.
By Alan H. Elder, Chairman/CEO - Vandor Coporation
So, what does it mean to observe an anniversary? We think about good memories, gratitude, and friendship. Let me explain each and why they are especially relevant to a business such as Vandor.
The origins of Vandor go way back to the depression in the 1930’s. Bruce Elder learned about casket making while a child riding along with his Hoosier-born dad Vance Elder, helping to deliver caskets in Detroit for the Detroit Casket Company. Bruce could help his dad after school because this was Vance’s second part-time job of the day (there were few full-time job opportunities available to an autoworker during the Great Depression). Bruce developed an entrepreneurial temperament at an early age.
Many years later, after the Bruce Casket Company was created in Michigan, Bruce was drafted into the Korean War for 2 years, so Bruce’s mother Doris picked up managing the office and casket production, and Vance returned to delivering caskets after his regular job at Ford Motor Company. Vance and Doris continued working with their son Bruce for their remaining working lives. And it is through Vance’s second job that Bruce came to know his future wife Suzanne, as she is the child and grandchild of funeral directors.
By 1972, Bruce and Suzanne and Doris and Vance had exited casket making, and in that year the Elder’s business was renamed Vandor having already expanded to Richmond, Indiana in 1968. The name Vandor honors Bruce’s parents Vance and Doris Elder --- “Van” for Vance and “Dor” for Doris. When Vandor started, the company focused on producing patented, fast-installing, high-quality casket interiors for other casket companies. Tens of millions of casket interiors later, the Vandor casket interior innovations have saved much money for casket makers, funeral directors and therefore families. Today, nearly every North American casket makes use of one or more of Vandor’s inventions.
In 1979, Vandor began making electrical connectors in Michigan and, after many improvements and inventions, became a world leader in this business. What was once a division of Vandor is today a part of Molex Electronics. This early Vandor work has given the world a much better electrical connector that continues to improve quality and save money for many industries, especially car making.
In the early 1980s, Vandor developed the Elderlite Corrugated Fiberboard Casket, marketed as a highquality, inexpensive casket. Vandor sold the Elderlite casket brand to Elder Davis, Inc. who expanded the brand focus on cremation products and in time earned the trust of nearly every American funeral director. Elder Davis is now a part of one of Vandor’s biggest customers named Matthews International. The Elderlite casket – the cardboard casket – is now a worldwide phenomenon that can be found not only in North America but also on all other continents (except Antarctica), with many millions buried or cremated. Vandor would eventually return to cardboard casket making in 2004 with Starmark brand patented designs that increasingly help funeral services succeed in both burial and cremation while reducing costs to families. Vandor 50th Anniversary Party Speech – Alan H. Elder September 17, 2022 Page 2 of 3
Also in the 1980s, due to a desire to improve the packaging for its electrical connectors, Vandor developed a line of corrugated fiberboard reels. Vandor later added a number of patented Enviromoldbrand plastic reels, serving the electrical connector, wire, cable and other continuously-wound product industries. Known as the Reel Options brand today, Vandor’s reels have saved the world much money and also reduced the use of virgin materials, as almost all Vandor reels have always been made of recycled materials.
In the 1990s, Vandor experimented with new plastics injection molding ideas. Among Vandor’s plastics parts is a temporary funerary urn, often given to families who are not yet prepared to purchase a permanent ash urn. And Vandor’s multi-shot plastics injection molding business today makes tens of millions of car parts a year for many car companies, in partnership with a specialized chemical company with whom Vandor has done business since 1974.
And there is so much more to the history, too much to list it all here.
All this history - the people, innovations, experience and hard work - have led Vandor to where it is today. Vandor employs more than 200 team members working together to create products that serve funeral professionals, as well as many products in the automotive, communications, construction, and consumer product industries.
Good memories are based on gratitude. Many of us remember that Bruce Elder wore an “Attitude” pin and that on the back of his business card was written “It’s your attitude, not your intelligence, that determines your success.” An affirmative attitude is an important part of Vandor’s culture, shared by Vandor’s past and current leaders. Part of a great attitude is having, and expressing, gratitude for others in our lives.
Naming and expressing gratitude to each current team member one by one, however much we wish to do so, would mean hearing me talk much too long. That is, unless you wish for me to do so?...Right. Nonetheless, it is a pleasure to remember and name and share gratitude for the past leadership of Gerald Davis and the late Mark Elder. So too that of other retired Vandor team members, some of whom worked at Vandor for many decades, including Bitha Isaacs, Bill Barth, Nadine LaFuze, Steve Woedl, Alice Hahn, Maria Meyer, Todd Elder, Pam Hughes, Gary Cox, Jim Shawhan, Leland Ozbun, Mike Berner, Suzy O’Donnell, Phil Carroll, Nancy Hines, Bill Smith, and Jack Elder. I know I am not including all recently-retired team members and am likely forgetting some long-retired team members, all of whose names would be a further joy to shout out, given time. It was the affirmative attitudes of these retired team members that made it possible to develop so many new customers, products and services and to set the stage for the nearly 60 patents issued so far, with many more forthcoming. This teamwork and culture of affirmative attitude have created so many good jobs and, in ways we can hardly imagine, gently improved the world for others.
I’d like to come back to the word Attitude for a moment. What are the ideas that make for an affirmative attitude? In their highest and most spiritual sense, they are:
1. That like a gardener, we can plant the seeds, yet we must know that all good - including patents and sales - comes from God, and we humans are only instruments.
2. That like a good musician, we must let the creativity, inspiration and talent we have from God shine forth.
3. That we are to do no evil. Only by getting evil out of the way can goodwill flow to all team members, customers and vendors.
4. That we are to do all business honestly, justly and faithfully. We are to do our best to act with good judgment and common sense, even while trusting in Divine Providence.
5. That we are to plan for the future as to what must be done for team members, customers and vendors, yet never worry about the future. In other words, do our best always and trust Divine Providence, especially when life goes differently from our plans. This includes, for instance, not being depressed in misfortunes nor full of pride in success.
6. Lastly, it is never about the money, rather it is about the good work to be done. We are to love transacting business as the job and the work, and we are to treat money as a necessary tool to do the job and the work.
In short, the gratitude we feel towards our colleagues at Vandor, our customers and suppliers, comes from a broader affirmative attitude that enables us to show appreciation and to return kindness towards those around us.
Memories and gratitude carry the potential for friendship. It is good to share memories and gratitude at work. And in our memory-building and expressions of gratitude, we build lasting friendships. In each mutual friendship where thoughtfulness and kindness are present, we can glimpse and feel a bit of heaven.
This glimpse and feeling of a bit of heaven can extend to our work and relationships in large and small teams, such as sales and marketing of Reel Options and L&L Products, or of Funeral Products, Starmark, and Starmark Local. I include teams in production, operations, customer service, HR, accounting and IT and numerous others. Of course, teams are made up of individuals, and each member of the broader Vandor team is essential. If any team member struggles, we all feel it and want to help.
Vandor has built great memories for me, my family, and the families of so many good people that have made this company what it is today. The attitude that my father Bruce brought to his work in Vandor inspires all of us to strive to treat our colleagues and neighbors well. The friendships we have made and the new ones ahead help make our daily work enjoyable and worth doing.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.