enFocus, a key resource for talent attraction in the South Bend-Elkhart Region, today (June 22) announced the creation of a new, dedicated industry innovation team to support iNDustry Labs at Notre Dame. The University of Notre Dame, with support from Lilly Endowment Inc., established iNDustry Labs in 2019 to unlock the competitive advantage associated with the region’s concentration of manufacturing in proximity to a global, tier-one research university.
enFocus has built a team of Fellows boasting backgrounds in engineering, industrial design, data analytics and digital operations. They are currently joined by summer interns from notable engineering programs including the University of Notre Dame, University of Michigan, Purdue University and Northwestern University. The Fellows provide support to iNDustryLabs Faculty and staff in their collaborations with businesses in the region as they develop and implement strategic plans for product and process innovation to diversify and grow business operations. Through the process, businesses gain access to technical expertise and innovation-based facilities available through iNDustry Labs.
Since its inception in 2012, enFocus has proven to be a key resource for talent attraction in the region. Through a two-year Fellowship program, recent graduates from a wide range of disciplines are paired with sponsored projects to drive innovation in local organizations. Much of enFocus’ work to-date has focused on serving the public, education and non-profit sectors. The launch of the Labs for Industry Futures and Transformation (LIFT) Network created an opportunity for enFocus to expand their activities to support innovation-based economic development, through iNDustry Labs at Notre Dame.
Michael Shoemaker, most recently a process engineer with Ford Motor Company, will lead the enFocus team as Program Director of Industry Innovation. Michael holds a bachelors and masters degree in Engineering from the University of Michigan, and joined enFocus in 2018.
“We recognize the difficulty local business leaders often have in finding technical talent that can help identify and implement digital advancements that result in competitive advantages,” said Shoemaker. “enFocus has demonstrated success in attracting the young talent needed to take local organizations to the next level, and we are excited to support iNDustry Labs in this effort.”
“We are thrilled with the caliber of technical talent enFocus brings to iNDustry Labs’ operations,” said John DeSalle, iNDustry Labs Executive Engineer-in-Residence and former President of Hoosier Racing Tire Corp. “Ultimately, our goal is to help build regional resilience with our manufacturers and regional industry to ensure they become or remain global competitors in a technologically advanced economy.”
Both teach kids about business and are selling hand sanitizer to benefit both programs and those dealing with the coronavirus.
“It was our thought when we first thought to join together that we would like to continue together to support our programs in entrepreneurship, and one way we could do that is selling hand sanitizer as a fundraiser,” said Jessica Hilary.
The money would go back to both non-profits.
It was made possible with help from Kem Krest, a chemical packaging company providing the hand sanitizer.
“We were able to work with Amish Shah and Kem Krest, who in their true entrepreneurial spirt has pivoted one of their business units as well to produce hand sanitizer,” said Lizzie Sheets. “We do need to raise funds and this is a great opportunity.”
The company had initially started producing hand sanitizer back in March as a response to shortages, especially for first responders and organizations on the front lines of the pandemic.
To help out, they increased production.
Both organizations will be selling a box of 12 bottles for $50 for the fundraiser. Now, if you have enough sanitizer, you can buy an extra box and donate it to Elkhart County schools.
“During this challenging time, we do need to raise funds and so this is great opportunity,” said Sheets.
The fundraiser runs through June 17. Starting June 18, orders can be picked up at Jimtown High School.
The new initiatives were launched to help Indiana businesses restart, adapt and stimulate long-term growth, especially small businesses and manufacturers.
June 1, 2020
Indiana is launching several new economic recovery initiatives designed to bolster critical relief efforts while encouraging long-term planning and investments to stimulate the state’s economy well into the future. Through these initiatives, the state will allocate nearly $44 million to provide support and resources including approximately $37 million in direct funding through grants and investments to small businesses and manufacturers – two key drivers of the Hoosier economy.
“To restart Indiana’s economic engine, it’s critical that we provide Hoosier businesses and entrepreneurs with the support they need to grow and get back on track,” said Governor Eric J. Holcomb. “These initiatives will ensure that two critical drivers of our state’s economy have access to resources and technological tools that allow them to continue competing and leading in the 21st century economy, while further positioning our state for long-term economic growth.”
To safely guide a return to economic activity, the state will deploy federal relief funds under the CARES Act in coordination with Indiana’s Economic Relief and Recovery Team, while targeting initiatives aimed at achieving long-term economic stabilization.
Small Business Restart Fund: Gov. Holcomb approved $30 million in federal funding made available through the CARES Act to small business restart grants, helping accelerate the speed of economic recovery activity by providing working capital to cover certain expenses related to the global pandemic. Indiana small businesses with fewer than 50 employees and $5 million in annual revenue that have experienced a 40% drop in revenue will be eligible to be reimbursed for up to 80% of qualified expenses, such as rent or mortgage payments, utilities, lease payments for real or personal property, and safety investments, such as personal protective equipment (PPE) and infrastructure improvements.
Eligible small businesses that demonstrate a revenue loss of at least 40% will be awarded up to $2,500 for each month while small businesses that demonstrate a revenue loss of at least 80% will be awarded up to $5,000 for each month, with grants issued up to $10,000 per company. Of the $30 million allocated to the fund, at least $5 million will be reserved for certified minority- and women-owned businesses.
Small Business Relief & Planning Resources: The Indiana Small Business Development Center (Indiana SBDC) received nearly $3.7 million from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) through the CARES Act to support increased resources for entrepreneurs and small businesses over the next 18 months. The funding, which will nearly double the organization’s annual federal appropriations, will enable Indiana SBDC to increase no-cost services, such as counseling and training, for businesses that were in operation prior to and that have been impacted by COVID-19. Services will be available through the Indiana SBDC’s 10 regional offices across the state and are expected to focus on financial assistance, e-commerce, business adaptation and innovation, disaster resiliency and planning, and reopening plans.
Manufacturing Support & Long-Term Growth: The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) board of directors approved $10 million to launch the Economic Activity Stabilization and Enhancement (EASE) program aimed at supporting technology and operational advancements in the manufacturing industry, which has long been a key driver of the state’s economy. EASE, which encompasses three complimentary initiatives, is designed to stimulate manufacturing investments that will position Indiana operations, and the sector overall, for future growth and prosperity by prioritizing startup investment and resources, technology modernization and development, and training assistance.
The three EASE initiatives include:
The new Smart & Advanced Manufacturing (SAM) Focus Fund, which will make seed and early-stage investments and provide entrepreneurship resources to Indiana manufacturing-focused startups through Elevate Ventures, the state’s venture development partner;
Manufacturing Readiness Grants, administered in partnership with Conexus Indiana, will provide matching grants of up to $200,000 to companies committing to modernizing their operations or integrating smart technologies and processes in order to improve capacity, or to companies investing in health care manufacturing technology, providing financial assistance to manufacturers supporting critical COVID-19 response efforts; and
A planned Smart Manufacturing Studio Lab, which will provide lab space and access to state-of-the-art smart manufacturing equipment, enabling businesses to train employees, validate technologies for their business models, and conduct third-party pilot manufacturing.
Of these programs, the SAM Focus Fund will launch immediately while the Manufacturing Readiness Grant applications are expected to be available in July with initial grant recommendations beginning in August. The IEDC will partner with industry stakeholders to develop a project scope for the Smart Manufacturing Studio Lab, mapping out next steps and a plan to source and supply the equipment, working toward a studio launch in early 2021.
Indiana’s manufacturing and small business sectors play critical roles in supporting the state’s economy. With more than 8,500 manufacturing facilities and the highest concentration of manufacturing jobs in the U.S., manufacturing accounts for 27.8% of Indiana’s total economic output. Additionally, according to the SBA, Indiana is home to approximately 104,335 small businesses that employ fewer than 150 associates, supporting 941,578 workers across the state.
Wednesday, June 3rd 2020, 2:24 PM EDTUpdated: Wednesday, June 3rd 2020, 7:05 PM EDTBy Mary Willkom, Writer/Reporter
(photo courtesy of Lighthouse Autism Center)
ELKHART – Lighthouse Autism Center is expanding its services in Elkhart County. The organization says it plans to open the new applied behavior analysis center in July and expects to create an additional 35 jobs in the area.
Lighthouse says the new location will be its second ABA center in Elkhart and its ninth total facility. The center first opened in Mishawaka in 2012.
“In August of 2019, we opened our first Elkhart center. Since then, we have been overwhelmed by the number of families inquiring about therapy services for their children. Clearly the need for autism therapy services is great in this community, and we feel privileged to be able to help meet that need,” said Gregg Maggioli, co-founder and chief executive officer of Lighthouse Autism Center.
Similar to its current Elkhart location, the new building will have the capacity to serve more than 20 children.
Lighthouse says the newest center will continue proactive health and safety measures, including masks for all employees, extra staff for cleaning and sanitation, limited building capacity, and symptom and temperature checks for children and employees.
Lighthouse is now enrolling children at its newest location, and you can find more information by clicking here.
Ameri-Kart, a Myers Industries Inc. company and a rotational molder and thermoformer, announced plans Friday (June 5) to expand its Elkhart County manufacturing operations, consolidating its Michigan and Indiana operations in Bristol, Ind., and creating up to 210 new jobs by the end of 2022.
“Thanks to manufacturers like Ameri-Kart growing and producing in our state, Indiana continues to build on its reputation as one of top manufacturing states in the nation, with nearly 30% of our state’s economic output coming from the manufacturing industry,” said Indiana Secretary of Commerce Jim Schellinger. “We’re grateful Ameri-Kart chose to continue growing its Indiana operations, and are excited to support their continued success in our state.”
Ameri-Kart, which manufactures a broad range of custom plastic parts within the RV, marine, agricultural, construction, manufacturing and safety industries, will invest approximately $10.1 million to construct and equip a new, state-of-the-art production facility in Bristol on 32 acres at 1667 Commerce Drive near I-80/90 and I-94. The new 234,000-square-foot facility will accommodate the consolidation of Ameri-Kart’s existing operations in Bristol, as well as its operations in Cassopolis, Michigan. Construction is underway, and the company plans to begin relocation in staged phases this fall and be fully moved into the facility by early 2021. The move will support the company’s efforts to increase efficiency of operations and enhance customer service.
“We are excited to be making this investment in our community,” said Kristian Stankiewicz, president of Ameri-Kart. “The larger, modern facility will allow us to continue delivering highly innovative products and quality service to our customers and provide an improved work environment to our employees.”
The company, which currently employs 138 associates in Bristol and 85 in Michigan, plans to begin hiring for positions in professional and production roles in Bristol beginning late September. Interested applicants may apply online.
“The Town of Bristol is both excited and grateful that Ameri-Kart has selected our town to locate their new state-of-the-art production facility,” said Bristol Town Council President Jeff Beachy. “Ameri-Kart has been a great business partner for many years, with their current facility located just outside Bristol town limits, so when they approached us about building their new facility in our North Industrial Park we were more than excited and supportive of their project. We look forward to seeing the new facility as it springs to life from the once vacant property, into a thriving business. We wish Myers Industries, the Ameri-Kart leadership team and their employees much success as they invest in the growth of their business operations, their new facility and also for their investment they are making in the Town of Bristol.”
Founded in 1989, Ameri-Kart manufactures a wide range of molded plastic parts and assemblies that meet customer design specifications and production requirements for a variety of industries. The new facility will accommodate state-of-the-art rotomold and thermoform manufacturing technologies, an improved lean equipment layout and automated workflows. Coupled with ergonomic and biophilic design throughout the building, these improvements will drive increased efficiency, and further enhance employee productivity and job satisfaction.
Genesis Products Inc., a leader in RV interior components, has introduced Solid Surface Countertops as the newest addition to its RV Interior product line, according to a release.
“Showcasing an expansive selection of color and textures, the addition of solid surface countertops enhances the flexibility and design options for each RV Interior,” said Trenton Miller, product manager at Genesis. “We have expanded our manufacturing and technical expertise to provide the highest quality product to our customers.”
Genesis currently provides thermoformed and lightweight countertops to the RV Industry. With the addition of solid surface to the countertop product line, Genesis now offers a complete selection of high-quality, design-forward countertops, creating a unique interior for each RV.
In August 2019, Genesis increased capacity with a 108,400 sq. ft. state-of-the-art manufacturing plant as part of its existing campus in Goshen, IN.
“We are remodeling our design center to provide the ultimate one-stop design experience, resulting in seamless and luxurious custom interiors,” explained Miller. “The addition of solid surface allows us to meet all customer needs from design to function to cost. Creating a unique experience for our customers is what we strive for daily. This takes us to the next level”
The Governor announced that majority of the state will begin to enter what he refers to as Stage 2 of a 5-phased reopening of the economy on Monday, May 4th. Marion and Lake Counties may move to Stage 2 on May 11th. Cass County may begin move to Stage 2 on May 18th.
At-risk Hoosiers, including those over age 65, should remain at home at this time. Stage 2 requires a gradual elimination of restrictions, depending upon a variety of circumstances.
Even upon reaching Stage 5 on July 4th, the Governor indicated that social distancing will still be required and remote work will still be encouraged. The Governor is still working on a plan for the next school year.
All remaining manufacturing businesses may open upon moving to Stage 2. Detailed guidelines and timeframes for the Governor’s plan may be found at the Back on Track Indiana website.
Purdue MEP – Providing direct support to help plan, prepare, protect, and recover manufacturing operations
Since March 2020, Purdue MEP has worked via our Critical PPE Manufacturing Initiative with real-time information, resources, and tools related to the efforts to manufacture urgently-needed medical PPE during this evolving global pandemic. Every day, we are helping companies remove barriers to PPE production to get critical supplies into the hands of front-line healthcare workers and their patients.
Over 100 companies are utilizing these services and we plan to assist more in the critical days and weeks to come. For examples of our work, visit our Success Story page.
Success Spotlight – Purdue MEP – A National Resource
Purdue MEP is not only helping with COVID-19 PPE efforts here in Indiana – we are also collaborating with MEP Centers across the nation to provide PPE to frontline healthcare workers.
Purdue MEP recently worked with the Virginia MEP Center to assist a hospital in their state. Purdue MEP connected the hospital with suppliers who were able to provide them with coveralls, face shields, and infrared thermometers.
A North Carolina medical organization recently needed a source for goggles. Purdue MEP was able to provide them with a local Indiana company that had the ability to supply them with the needed items.
Free Webinar Next Week from the Indiana Manufacturers Association
Success Spotlight – Continuing Direct Assistance to Indiana Hospitals
An Indiana hospital needed a supply of fingertip pulse oximeters to provide to discharged COVID-19 patients to monitor their health as they continue to recover. Purdue MEP was able to successfully connect the hospital to a company with an available supply of these useful diagnostic tools.
Resource List Available on Purdue MEP Site for Employers
Purdue MEP is closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation. Our greatest concern is for the health, safety, and well-being of our employees, our clients and their staff, and our communities. In this current state, we remain fully committed to our mission of serving Indiana manufacturers.
If your organization is in need of PPE to operate, please submit your company’s information on this form, and one of our staff members will be in touch to assist your company.
Managing Stress Webinar by Purdue MEP, May 11th 1pm to 1:30pm – FREE
The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Coping with this stress will help your organization become stronger. In this workshop, you’ll learn about how stress affects the body and assess your own stress level. You’ll also learn tools for identifying sources of stress and learn proven techniques for managing stress.
To participate in this online offering, please complete this registration form. All participants will receive WebEx instructions the day of the event.
Purdue COVID-19 MEP Resources:
Online Problem Solving Course
In any workplace, problems arise every day that need to be solved. In a manufacturing environment, solving problems can be challenging due to the large number of interrelated systems that exist in the typical manufacturing plant. For example, is a high defect rate due to issues with incoming materials, operator techniques, machine settings, or all of these?
In this course, you’ll learn about how the Plan-Do-Check-Act method of problem solving, the A3 problem solving tool, and the root-cause analysis technique form a foundation for effective problem solving. You’ll also learn how to use additional problem solving tools, including Pareto charts and fishbone diagrams. Together, this new knowledge and skill will help you solve problems in a more streamlined and efficient manner, making you a valuable resource within your organization.
In manufacturing environments, a proactive approach to safety, with involvement from employees at all levels, can increase employee productivity and commitment, save money, and improve the organization’s reputation. In this course, you’ll learn how lean manufacturing concepts, such as eliminating the eight wastes, can be used to improve safety; you’ll also learn the fundamentals of building a culture of safety commitment as opposed to compliance.
NDIANAPOLIS (May 1, 2020) – Governor Eric J. Holcomb today announced a new marketplace for personal protective equipment (PPE) that will serve as an added resource for Indiana small businesses returning to work in the coming weeks. The Indiana Small Business PPE Marketplace, which is expected to launch next week, will ensure reliable access to PPE for small businesses and nonprofits lacking the resources needed to comply with safe workplace guidance during the reopening.
“As we look toward a safe and responsible reopening across the state, we’re working to remove barriers for entrepreneurs and small business owners that could limit or delay progress,” Gov. Holcomb said. “The Indiana Small Business PPE Marketplace is another tool that will help support small businesses during this unprecedented time, ensuring they are able to continue operating while providing needed safety measures to protect workers and customers alike.”
The Marketplace, developed by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) in partnership with the Indiana Small Business Development Center and the Indiana Office of Technology, will leverage PPE that is being manufactured and sourced by Indiana businesses across the state to help support supplies.
In order to be eligible to utilize the Marketplace, an organization must:
Be a business or nonprofit organization registered to do business in Indiana with the Indiana Secretary of State;
Employ less than 150 associates; and
Be identified in the reopening plan as an entity that must use PPE as a condition of operating in order to comply with safe workplace requirements.
All businesses and nonprofits are encouraged to first source and procure PPE on their own with the Marketplace serving as an alternate backstop for employers. While the state will make every effort to provide needed supplies, it cannot guarantee the integrity of the PPE supply chain due to increasing demands worldwide. All requests will be evaluated and fulfilled based on work environment risk profile, stock availability, and the number of outstanding requests. At times, partial or delayed fulfillment of requests may occur.
The Indiana Small Business PPE Marketplace is another step forward for the IEDC, which has been working to secure PPE for the state’s hospitals, first responders, long-term care facilities and healthcare providers treating COVID-19 patients. To date, the state has secured commitments for more than 7.84 million pieces of PPE – up from 6.3 million reported last week – with more than 2 million items already delivered to the Indiana State Department of Health for distribution.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, Indiana is home to approximately 104,335 small businesses that employ 941,578 Hoosiers across the state. To learn more about COVID-19 resources and no-cost counseling available to Indiana entrepreneurs and small businesses, visit isbdc.org/indianacovid19smallbusiness.
As the RV industry works to reopen amid myriad procedural changes wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic, staying abreast of current conditions and providing support in any way possible is how the head of the Economic Development Corporation of Elkhart County (EDC) described his organization’s role.
“We have been speaking to – I guess the ‘Big Three’ is the best way to describe them – and we’ve tried to stay apprised of what their plans are,” said Chris Stager, EDC president and CEO. “We have discussed some of their PPE needs and we have discussed some spacing issues, but they obviously have access to some of the same information that we do.”
He said the focus is to have the safest work environment possible as the industry reopens next week He believes it will be a phased-in approach based on which elements of the supply chain are ready to support the industry.
And what an industry.
In 2018, according U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, 90% all U.S. RV manufacturing happened in Elkhart County. According to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, prior to the pandemic there were more than 70,000 manufacturing jobs in the county. Total jobs exceeded 137,000. Elkhart County represents 3% of the Indiana’s population, yet accounted for 13.5% of the state’s manufacturing jobs. Some 18,000 Elkhart County workers filed unemployment claims over the past two months. Depending on April numbers, the county’s unemployment rate could reach 15%. Before the pandemic, the rate was 2.7%.
“Obviously, we know that along with the RV sector, we’re (Elkhart County) tied to the automotive sector, and we don’t have real clear delineation from the automotive sector, exactly, of their timing for coming back,” Stager said.
While, clearly, all industry players are talking to their suppliers, Stager noted that because some of Elkhart County’s supply chain works in both automotive and RV sectors, the EDC is trying to assist by being a centralized clearinghouse of information on supply and compliance issues across all industries.
“Pretty much every manufacturer has told us on the way coming back that production will be based on their projections,” he said. “It’s no different than it was a year ago. They’re going to look at what the dealer inventories are and try to be smart about how they run their manufacturing.” Stager said the EDC is excited to see the plants reopening and sees the potential for an upswing going forward.
“The RV sector may benefit from some of the quarantine policies that are out there,” he said, as consumers eschew overseas travel, cruise ships and airlines. “How that all parlays itself into actual sales, we have to wait and see. Discretionary income, I guess, would be out there to do that. Certainly it makes sense from a lot of perspectives that people will want to control the environment they’re in. I think we’ll see much more domestic travel.”
Looking ahead in a support role for the RV industry, Stage said the EDC is focused on workforce development. His organization works with the Purdue Minority Engineering Program (MEP).
“Though Purdue hasn’t had a ton of interaction with the OEM sector, we are working at how you rework a production line so that social distancing is happening,” he said, “Or how you re-engineer the value stream on the manufacturing line to make it safer and more compliant.” He also mentioned that the EDC was “very pleased” to see the RV Industry Association establish its training facility in Elkhart.
On the technology front, he noted the COVID-19 crisis has likely changed the way technology will be integrated into the workforce and the EDC already was working toward improvements in local technology infrastructure.
“As a countywide initiative, we started a year ago to make sure that all of our manufacturing partners have good broadband,” he said. “We’re working on a local fiber connection and some of our supply chain partners – Lippert and a few others – have expressed interest in that and some of our OEMs have expressed interest in that.”
He said in the near future, “We will continue to see more automation creep into the production processes and better management of labor.”
Prior to the pandemic, Elkhart County enjoyed extremely low unemployment, but where that number winds up after the pandemic isn’t clear. In any case, EDC is prepared to confront any workforce problems.
“As an organization, we have a tool called Elkhart County Works, he said. “It’s aggregates Indeed, Monster, Career Builder and the state job lines. We’re updating that web page so that if we have pockets of businesses that are looking to hire, or workers who were displaced because of the pandemic, they’ll have a resource where they can go to single spot to look for work or workers.”
Wednesday, April 29th 2020, 10:19 AM EDT Updated: Wednesday, April 29th 2020, 10:34 AM EDT By Mary Willkom, Writer/Reporter
(photo courtesy of the University of Notre Dame IDEA Center)
SOUTH BEND – A South Bend-based technology startup has won the University of Notre Dame’s McCloskey New Venture Competition. Viewtique, which has developed a platform to support locally-owned fashion boutiques, took home the $50,000 grand prize from Startup South Bend – Elkhart and Elevate Ventures.
Viewtique is a website that lets users browse, shop, and earn rewards from area fashion boutiques. The startup says its mission is to make local boutique shopping as accessible as possible to shoppers. The website currently features 11 boutiques, and the startup says it plans to add more soon.
Viewtique says it will forgo any profits while stay-at-home orders are in place, making the website a great way to shop local fashion during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Viewtique team is thrilled to have secured the Startup South Bend – Elkhart/Elevate Ventures Grand Prize,” said Viewtique co-founder, Mike Cali. “We’re putting that money right to work for our boutique partners and for this community by building an online experience that helps local shoppers consider shopping local boutiques first,” said Cali. “We’re so glad SUSBE and Elevate Ventures decided to award their prize to a company dedicated to helping local boutiques thrive.”
Event organizers say 13 teams were awarded more than $400,000 in cash and in-kind prizes during a livestream ceremony of the competition.
“In my mind, Viewtique is creating a double win for the region: a high potential technology startup that also meaningfully supports the continued viability of our local retailers. This value proposition is compelling in general but is particularly meaningful in our current COVID-19 environment as we all do our best to shop locally,” said Susan Ford, Startup South Bend – Elkhart board member and Graham Allen Partners director.
The competition began in 2001 with 70 teams and $30,000 in awards. Since then, more than 2,286 teams with 7,000 participants have been awarded over $1.65 million in prizes.