Richmond, Ind. – The Wayne County Area Chamber of Commerce celebrated 120 area high school seniors with a big bash. Their School Is Cool program rewards students with near-perfect attendance, and the culmination of the program is the annual Senior Celebration.
The program is in partnership with Wetzel Auto and First Bank Richmond along with about 200 other Chamber members contributing to the prize stash totaling more than $287,000. The top prize went to one lucky recipient – Austin Rohe of Richmond High School – receiving his choice of a car or scholarship from Wetzel Auto.
“Our family loves this event,” said Jera (Wetzel) Schwer of Wetzel Auto. “It has been a joy to play a role in the School Is Cool program for now 13 years. Seeing the excitement of the winners over the year has been extremely rewarding.” In 13 years, the company has now donated $268,000 in scholarships and cars.
All 120 qualifying students received a $1,000 scholarship from both Indiana University East and Ivy Tech Richmond, both of which joined the cause and participated, for now, three years. Chancellor Chad Bolser of Ivy Tech and IU East’s Interim Chancellor, Michelle Mallott, both say they are happy to invest in this group of promising future students.
“Adding these scholarships to the lineup has been another layer of validation that showing up every day counts,” said Chamber President and CEO Melissa Vance. “Being present helps students succeed in school, employees succeed at work, and it helps us all succeed in life.”
Students arrived at the First Bank Kuhlman Center to find a wall of numbers where they chose their own lucky number for the night. Then, they enjoyed a photo booth, music, pizza, and games while they waited for everyone to get signed in and confirmed. Eastern Indiana Works brought their virtual reality goggles and a large screen for others to view as graduates took turns trying out various careers and workforce activities.
The evening was emceed by G101.3’s Keith Kassidy. One by one numbers were drawn and students invited to the stage for their photo opportunity. Then they moved to stations around the room, receiving thermal water bottles from First Bank Richmond, their scholarships, and finally their prize. The energy built throughout the night as even some mascots and cheerleaders celebrated with their respective schools.
The prize pool began with a value of at least $50. Then, they slowly increased to include items such as Airpods, Northface backpacks, gift cards, speakers, and TVs. Finally, the winners were narrowed to the final two recipients. One would receive a $500 Best Buy gift card and the other their choice of a Honda HRV, a Chevy Trailblazer, or a scholarship in the same amount.
“When we began the School Is Cool program in 2009, we knew we needed to reach kids at a young age with the message that attendance matters. Hopefully, as these kids grow up learning that determination, it will become a lifelong habit,” said Garry Kleer of First Bank Richmond. Kleer was serving on the Chamber board and worked with other business leaders along with Chamber staff to begin pulling the program together.
Now, the School Is Cool program is far-reaching, encompassing all five public school districts and Seton Catholic School. At the elementary level, one name is drawn from those achieving at least 98 percent attendance. That student receives a bike, sponsored by Meijer and Walmart. Middle schools do the same with the Chamber presenting winners with an electric scooter. All six high schools receive ticket bundles from G101.3 for winners from grades 9-11. In all, 26 schools benefit from this potentially life-changing initiative.
Vance summed up the event by saying, “Wayne County is incredibly fortunate to have organizations so invested in the future leaders of our community. Nights like tonight shout that from the rooftop!”
By U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Despite leading nearly half of U.S. businesses, women entrepreneurs typically receive less funding. These 16 funding options aim to address this problem.
While women-owned businesses have always played a crucial role in the economy, more women are taking the leap into entrepreneurship in recent years. According to a Gusto study, 49% of entrepreneurs in 2021 were women — up from 28% in 2019. Yet in 2021, startups founded solely by women received just 2% of venture capital investments.
To help bridge that gap, here are 16 organizations, government agencies, and resources that offer funding support for women-owned businesses.
37 Angels - The investment firm 37 Angels was founded on the belief that the gender gap in startup investing needs to be closed. The organization invests in early-stage startups from both women and men and has a transparent and open process that makes it easy for entrepreneurs from any background to apply for funding. Pitch forums with 37 Angels investors are held every two months.
Amber Grant Foundation - The Amber Grant Foundation was founded by WomensNet in 1998 in honor of Amber Wigdahl, an aspiring woman entrepreneur who died at 19 years old. The Amber Grant Foundation carries on the youthful spirit of Wigdahl by offering women entrepreneurs grants to help their businesses take off. Each month, the Foundation gives away $30,000 in grant funds as well as two year-end grants of $25,000 each.
BELLE Capital USA - BELLE Capital USA offers early-stage funding for high-growth companies in underserved markets, particularly for women-led businesses. Its investors plan to invest in 10-15 companies that are currently making $1 million in revenue but are “capable of reaching $120 million or more within 3-5 years.”
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BELLE Capital USA focuses on startups in four sectors — IT, digital health, technology-enabled products and services, and CleanTech — and typically funds between $100,000 and $1.5 million, delivered in portions dependent upon milestone achievement. Post-investment, the angel fund helps its companies prepare for high-value exits by recruiting top female talent, all while continuing to work closely with founders and upper management.
Cartier Women’s Initiative - The Cartier Women's Initiative is an international entrepreneurship program that provides multiple awards each year to “women-run and women-owned businesses from any country and sector that aim to have a strong and sustainable social and/or environmental impact.” Grant awards range from $30,000 to $100,000. In 2021, the organization also launched a “Science & Technology Pioneer Award,” which hopes to help women entrepreneurs working on innovative scientific and technological projects.
Fearless Fund - Businesses led by women of color can apply for financing from Fearless Fund, which is “built by women of color for women of color.” The venture capital fund invests in organizations in need of pre-seed, seed-level, or series A financing. Fearless Fund boasts an array of big-name corporate partners, including Coca-Cola, Mastercard, and UPS.
In 2023, the company also launched its Fearless Strivers Grant Contest, open to Black women who are the principal owner of any U.S.-based small businesses. The four selected contest winners will receive $20,000 grants, along with digital growth tools and mentorship opportunities.
Female Founders Fund - If the name wasn’t clear enough, the VC firm Female Founders Fund aims to invest in up-and-coming women-owned and women-run startups. Since 2014, Female Founders Fund has put money toward “category-defining female leaders with a strong community to fuel their success,” with investments in B2B, consumer, healthcare, fintech, and social companies.
Grants.gov - The website Grants.gov offers the most comprehensive look at federal grant options for businesses. Not all grants specifically target women-owned businesses; however, given the thousands of grants to apply to, there are many opportunities here for companies from all backgrounds. Grants.gov lists federal grants from agencies including the Department of the Interior, Health and Human Services, National Science Foundation, and more.
GrantsForWomen.org - The website GrantsForWomen.org is a simple but incredibly useful website for women business owners who are looking for grants. What makes the site more useful than many is that it lists grant opportunities at the local and national level, making it easier to find lesser-known organizations that are offering funding. The site also does a good job of outlining recent and timely opportunities, so it’s worth checking frequently.
The website GrantsForWomen.org is a simple but incredibly useful website for women business owners who are looking for grants. What makes the site more useful than many is that it lists grant opportunities at the local and national level, making it easier to find lesser-known organizations that are offering funding.
iFundWomen - iFundWomen offers a range of funding options for women-owned businesses. One of the organization’s most convenient tools is the iFundWomen Universal Grant Application, which matches its partners’ grant criteria to businesses in the database. Qualified applicants who are a match for a sponsored grant will be notified.
In addition to grants, iFundWomen also offers a platform for women-owned businesses looking to crowdfund, as well as educational resources to help them get started. Site visitors who wish to contribute to a crowdfunding campaign can filter their search by business category, date, and funding goal.
Kapor Capital - Oakland-based venture capital firm Kapor Capital has a mission to empower founders who come from all backgrounds, including many women entrepreneurs. The firm says 38% of its “first-time investments have a founder who identifies as a woman” and works to fund startups working to solve big problems in education, finance, health, work, and justice.
Ms. Foundation for Women - The Ms. Foundation for Women’s mission is to advance equity for women by supporting female entrepreneurs, centering women of color who have been historically underrepresented. In addition to funding, the nonprofit provides strategic assistance to help women-owned businesses achieve lasting success and growth.
The Ms. Foundation’s grants focus on supporting grassroots organizations in three categories: economic justice, safety, and women’s health. Grants are typically administered via targeted requests for proposals, offered to a limited number of applicants. However, open calls for proposals will sometimes be posted on the organization’s website, so entrepreneurs can keep an eye out for these opportunities.
SoGal Ventures - Women-led venture capital firm SoGal Ventures invests in “early-stage diverse founding teams” in the U.S., Asia, Africa, and Europe, including many women-owned startups. To date, the firm has invested in more than 70 companies. SoGal Ventures works side by side with the organization SoGal, which provides “advisory, coaching, mentorship services, startup resources, and events” to diverse startups who are looking for help and networking.
Small Business Administration (SBA)For years, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has been one of the best places for women-owned businesses to look to for assistance with funding. On top of providing general resources and guidance through its Women’s Business Centers, the SBA can connect women-owned businesses with financing opportunities through its Lender Match tool. The SBA also can help with obtaining federal contracting opportunities for women-owned businesses through the Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting program.
Tory Burch Foundation - The Tory Burch Foundation, which was founded in 2009 in support of empowering women entrepreneurs, provides funding through its fellows program targeted at women-owned businesses. Fellows receive a five-day workshop series at the Tory Burch offices, a $5,000 grant for business education, and more. Additionally, some fellows are invited to pitch at a Pitch Day event.
Visa Global She’s Next Grant Program - Female entrepreneurs looking to launch beyond the U.S. can seek out the Visa Global She’s Next Grant Program. In collaboration with the above-mentioned iFundWomen, Visa offers grant and coaching opportunities for women-owned small businesses across the globe. Since its launch, the She’s Next Grant has been made available to entrepreneurs in Chile, Poland, the Dominican Republic, the Baltics, the Nordic region, and the Mena region. Though the application period has closed as of February 2023, global business owners can monitor the page in the coming months for the next round of grants.
Women Founders Network Fast Pitch Competition - Each year, the Women Founders Network hosts its Fast Pitch Competition for female entrepreneurs. The top 10 selected finalists will receive personalized coaching, mentorship, and feedback to prepare for their pitch. Winning pitches will earn cash prizes totaling $55,000: $25,000 to first-place winners in each of two tracks (tech and non-tech), plus $5,000 to one winner in the Junior Judge program (open to young women in grades 9-12).
The competition is open to U.S.-based women-owned businesses that have raised no greater than $750,000 in outside funding. Applications will be accepted between April 1 and May 31 for the 2023 competition.
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
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.
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.
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 (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.
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