Bill and Kristin Fenech Donate 10,000 N95 Masks

By: RVBusiness|Published on: Apr 15, 2020|Categories: Today’s Industry News|

The COVID-19 Community Response Fund, created by United Way of Elkhart & LaGrange Counties and the Community Foundation of Elkhart County, has received a gift of 10,000 N95 respirator face masks, donated by Bill and Kristin Fenech, according to reporting in the Goshen News.

Bill Fenech is a former Thor Industries Inc. executive and co-founder of Grand Design RV. He currently serves as president and co-owner of Barletta Boat Company LLC, a pontoon boat manufacturer located in Bristol, Ind.

The protective face masks will be distributed to Elkhart General Hospital, Goshen Health and local nursing homes to protect health care workers from contracting and spreading the novel coronavirus, United Way officials state in a news release. Demand for the masks is outpacing supply nationwide.

Representatives from both Beacon Health System and Goshen Health indicated they welcome the gift of masks, which are essential items of personal protective equipment to help fight the spread of COVID-19. United Way and the Community Foundation began distributing masks Tuesday in accordance with the donors’ request.

Source: https://rvbusiness.com/bill-and-kristin-fenech-donate-10000-n95-masks/

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RV Tech Institute Launches Website, Online Classes

By: RVBusiness|Published on: Apr 13, 2020|Categories: Today’s Industry News|

The RV Technical Institute (RVTI) launched a new website today, a key component of which is the opportunity for prospective students to register for online classes as part of the program’s Learning Management System (LMS).

RVTI announced April 8 it would begin offering the Level 1 training course online later this month. The online, interactive classes will be virtually taught by RV Technical Institute trainers through Zoom. The rollout of this new curriculum delivery system will allow RV technicians to continue to be trained and receive the only industry-wide certification while following appropriate social distancing guidelines.

The first online Level 1 class starts on April 20 and will be delivered in four-hour increments on a daily basis from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday. As RVTI moves to this virtual setting, hands-on training remains a cornerstone of the brand-new curriculum. The hands-on labs will be demonstrated during the online instruction class and students will then perform these labs on their own.

Textbook support materials will be distributed electronically through the Institute’s LMS.

Class participants will be given two weeks to complete their certification testing (included in the $275 course fee) via an on-line system using Proctor U. Those who pass the test will then become RV Technical Institute Level 1 certified.

Additionally, the online test will be available to experienced RV technicians who choose to test after reviewing the Level 1 curriculum without participating in additional training. This will allow experienced RV technicians to use their existing knowledge and skills to obtain the Level 1 certification.

For questions, please visit www.RVTI.org or email RVTI-info@rvti.org.

Source: https://rvbusiness.com/rv-tech-institute-launches-new-website-online-classes/

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$3M in fiber projects part of $7M plan, RDC hears

By JORDAN FOUTS jfouts@elkharttruth.com

Apr 11, 2020

GOSHEN — The Elkhart County Redevelopment Commission has approved $3 million in funding to install nearly 40 miles of fiber optics around Elkhart city.

Board members voted to appropriate $3 million and $10,000 from two special taxing districts toward the installation of backup fiber lines, in preparation for putting the two projects out for bids. The work is part of an estimated $7 million worth of installations planned for the Elkhart area in the next few years.

They authorized the money Thursday during a meeting held over videoconferencing. Their share of the money comes from two tax increment finance districts that border the city.

Natasha Kauffmann, redevelopment program coordinator, said they were asked to contribute funding toward one part of the larger, long-term fiber goals held by the county. The plan prioritizes public and commercial users but will eventually reach residential customers.

She remarked on the sense of urgency behind the fiber builds.

“These are projects that are, because of the way that the fiber team is focusing their work, they’re trying to get as much built in the next two, possibly three years, as possible,” Kauffmann said. “So these aren’t amounts that they’ll be asking for us in the next four or five years – they’re asking for our help now, up-front, because they’re trying to get as much infrastructure built now, as we’re really seeing a need for digital connectivity in these times.”

She said one project area is the Middlebury Street industrial area off C.R. 17, estimated to cost about $1.5 million. The other is a redundancy build connecting the county’s Northeast Corridor and Northwest Gateway TIFs, estimated at just over $1.5 million.

“And that helps to not only connect between the two TIFs, but it allows so that there’s a redundancy loop for the overall system going through,” she said of the second project. “It will also allow, over time, for the county to have more users of the county dark fiber over time in that area. This is a county asset being built within the area of Elkhart City and overlapping with areas of county jurisdiction.”

Elkhart County has been expanding its fiber network in recent months while also developing the infrastructure needed to manage it. That includes writing new policies for companies that lease strands of fiber and hiring staff to oversee daily operations.

Ben Miller, who was hired as dark fiber consultant for the county, said they’re preparing to deliver monthly reports to show things like the number of subscribers, usage, growth and revenue.

He noted that about 38 miles of fiber will be installed between the two projects that the RDC was asked to help fund.

That includes 20 miles going along S.R. 19, from Jeanwood Drive in the north to just past Mishawaka Road in the south, with a loop at California Road and Bypass Road. Another 18 miles will go into the Middlebury Street and C.R. 17 industrial area.

He explained how the build-out will benefit some City of Elkhart and county facilities, as well as making it possible for more users to connect in the future.

“We have a lot of customers that have approached us, potential users that want to use dark fiber directly, that are on the commercial side. There are some new internet service providers who want to start providing service in those areas, and they have asked us as well,” he said. “We also are rolling out a plan for small businesses now, not just the medium to large commercial customers.”

Source: https://www.elkharttruth.com/hometown/3m-in-fiber-projects-part-of-7m-plan-rdc-hears/article_fb162eda-e356-5e14-aa6b-6ff88a948ee1.html

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NextLevel Jobs: Employer Training Grant Update 3.19.2020

Effective March 19, 2020, the Department of Workforce Development is delaying the NextLevel Jobs: Employer Training grant until July.  They will continue to process reimbursements to employers completing training and will extend “Active” funding obligation agreements from nine to twelve months when applicable. 

On a case-by-case basis they will process current employer applicants in “Pending” status but will no longer accept new employer applicants.  DWD remains excited to move into NLJ 4.0 this summer and hope to do so in advance of July 1st

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South Bend-Elkhart earns Talent Region designation

Area recognized for efforts to attract, develop and connect talent.

– TRUTH STAFF | Jan 17, 2020

SOUTH BEND — The South Bend-Elkhart Region has been named a 21st Century Talent Region by Indiana Secretary of Career Connections and Talent Blair Milo.

The designation is given to Indiana communities focused on working collaboratively to attract, develop and connect talent, the South Bend-Elkhart Regional Partnerhship said.

“The South Bend-Elkhart Regional Partnership has been instrumental in driving innovation across northern Indiana, partnering with local, regional and state leaders through various education and workforce development opportunities such as the Regional Cities initiative,” Milo said. “As a 21st Century Talent Region, the South Bend-Elkhart Region continues to build upon these partnerships to further connect the cities and towns of Elkhart, Marshall and St. Joseph counties, working to create a more talent-driven region.”

The Office of Career Connections and Talent, with support from the Indiana Economic Development Corp. and technical assistance from CivicLab, launched the 21st Century Talent Region initiative to encourage local governments, businesses, educational institutions, nonprofits, and economic and workforce development partners to create and implement plans to increase educational attainment, raise household income and grow the population in a region.

Through a comprehensive approach, these regions should be able to improve quality of place, upskill their workforce and connect Hoosiers with businesses seeking to fill high-wage jobs.

Regina Emberton, president and CEO of the South Bend-Elkhart Regional Partnership, accepted the award Friday on behalf of the partnership that spans Elkhart, St. Joseph and Marshall counties. 

“The South Bend-Elkhart Regional Partnership seeks to unify and collaborate so that together, the communities across the region work together to achieve what cannot be done individually,” Emberton said. “The tools and resources provided through the 21st Century Talent Region designation process have been instrumental in creating a common framework and set of metrics for use as we implement our talent attraction, development and connection strategies.”

According to a news release, the 21st Century Talent Region initiative builds on the momentum created by the Indiana Regional Cities Initiative, which dedicated $126 million in matching funds to three regions in order to advance long-term plans focused on talent attraction and quality of place investments. The funds support 65 projects, leveraging $1.22 billion in additional co-investment from other public and private sources.

Spearheaded by the South Bend-Elkhart Regional Partnership, the region identified key priorities through the 21st Century Talent Region initiative, including:

  • Establish a digital Center for Work-Based Learning through the development and launch of a Regional Innovation Asset Portal in support of regional industry advancement, entrepreneurship and talent development initiatives.
  • Grow student and adult career coaching through Career Pathway initiatives.
  • Launch a regional brand and implement talent retention and attraction marketing strategy.
  • Adopt a diversity, equity, and inclusion focus with the intention of narrowing the opportunity gap for disadvantaged and/or minority populations that have been historically underserved across the region.

Source: https://www.elkharttruth.com/hometown/elkhart_county/south-bend-elkhart-earns-talent-region-designation/article_14bb4500-c399-58c6-9128-1656f36c4038.html

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Iechyd Da Brewing Company of Elkhart Wins Best Seasonal Beer in Indiana’s Cool North

Terry Mark, Elkhart County Convention and Visitors Bureau — November 5, 2019

Congratulations to the Breakfast Cookies Milk Stout made by Iechyd Da Brewing Company, which topped 12 other tasty contenders from around northern Indiana in voting for Best Seasonal Beer in Indiana’s Cool North Beer Wars.

With thousands of votes cast over 10 days, Elkhart’s Iechyd Da came out on top of two other Elkhart County breweries, Wedgewood Brewing Company of Middlebury’s Pumpkin Guts and Ruhe 152 of Nappanee’s Draper, and 10 others from St. Joseph, LaPorte and Porter counties.

The Beer Wars promotion was the latest iteration of Indiana’s Cool North Food Wars competitions. 

“Food Wars promotions like this allow our local businesses to show off,” said Robby Bearss, marketing manager for the Northern Indiana Tourism Development Commission. “It is important to shine a spotlight on local businesses to remind the community how great of an asset they are to area and why they help make our region so cool.” 

Indiana’s Cool North is a joint initiative of NITDC and its members in the region. NITDC’s goal is to promote tourism and drive business to locally owned businesses.

The Elkhart County Convention & Visitors Bureau is a member of NITDC and is the official tourism advertising/marketing and public/community relations organization for the Elkhart County hospitality industry. The ECCVB advances quality-of-place initiatives in our downtowns and rural spaces, parks and natural environment, arts and culture, and events, festivals, groups and activities that help forge social connections.

For more information about Beer Wars, contact Robby Bearss of NITDC at 574-238-3748.

For more information about Elkhart County tourism, contact Terry T. Mark, director of communications of the Elkhart County Convention and Visitors Bureau, at 574-262-8161 or terry@eccvb.org.

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Ivy Tech Awarded Veterans Grant

By Reed Parker, Writer/Reporter | October 30, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS – Ivy Tech Community College is one of two recipients of grants to support a program aimed at helping veterans. Ivy Tech received $1.5 million for the Veterans Accelerated Learning for Licensed Occupations (VALLO) project. Ivy Tech was one of two schools awarded under the program, which is fully funded by the U.S. Department of Labor. 

The grant will allow Ivy Tech to partner with the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency, Conexus Indiana, Techpoint, and others to help speed up the process for transitioning veterans into licensed work. Ivy Tech will administer collaboration between each partner to find gaps between military training and civilian jobs, develop education pathways, create training programs and develop a multi-state system to transfer credentials. 

“The funding provided by DOL will allow Ivy Tech and our partners to continue to address the workforce needs in our state,” said Vice President for Advanced Manufacturing, Engineering and Applied Science Sue Smith. “Ivy Tech is committed to providing education and training opportunities to veterans and transitioning service members to not only aid their efforts in joining the civilian workforce, but also to meet the employer demand for a skilled workforce.”

More information about the grants can be found here

Source: http://www.insideindianabusiness.com/story/41249207/ivy-tech-awarded-veterans-grant

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Robotics training lab coming to Ivy Tech in Elkhart County

By Tiffany Salameh | September 17, 2019

GOSHEN, Ind. – Robotics in the workforce is becoming more commonplace. That’s why Ivy Tech in Elkhart is going to start training their students to work hands on with automation with the help of a $1.47 million contribution from the county council.

The money is going towards an entire “iFlex” robotics lab which will streamline the process for students between class and the workforce.

“it’s going to go towards two things really building a facility and making sure that we have the appropriate infrastructure, equipment, that we need to train students,” Natalie Medich said, the Advanced Manufacturing, Robotic and Industrial Tech Chair at Ivy Tech. “It’s actually very vital. Our businesses are moving towards automation for our manufacturing facilities.

Factories like Thor Motors and Lippert Components are already using some robots similar to the ones at Ivy Tech College right now.

Back in 2015, the Brookings Institute ranked Elkhart County #1 in the nation for robots per 1,000 workers. Medich said that with the new lab workforces in Elkhart are likely just going to keep growing with automated technology.

“That type of training is rare here in Elkhart County,” Medich said.

Ivy Tech student and robotics lab tech Paul Troxel said the new facility is both exciting and necessary. On top of his class load, Troxel also works fulltime at Lippert Components, working with robots.

 “It’s going to be everywhere, I already know the plant across the street have got two full size robots they’re going automated with,  we have a couple of more plants with automation cells in them and I know there’s just more coming,” Troxel said.

Despite common misconception, Medich said automation does not always take away jobs. In manufacturing, it brings better and higher paying jobs. A heavily automated start-up company called Brinco just announced plans to bring 250 jobs to Bristol by 2021.

Both Medich and Troxel agree that automation is nothing to be scared of but rather welcomed.

“Just embrace the change. This is the way it’s going to be,” Troxel said.

The new robotics facility is scheduled to break ground in summer of 2020.  

Source: https://www.abc57.com/news/robotics-training-lab-coming-to-ivy-tech-in-elkhart-county

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RV Technical Institute Officially Opens in Elkhart

By Merritt McLaughlin, Writer/Reporter | September 23, 2019

ELKHART – The RV Technical Institute has officially opened in Elkhart. The new 18,000-square-foot facility features seven classrooms and aims to directly address the shortage of RV technicians while improving consumer experience. 

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Executive Director of the RVTI Curt Hemmeler says the institute has big plans to address the shortage on a statewide and national level. 

The nonprofit institute was funded by collection of $10 million from the RV industry.

Hemmeler says the industry has about a 20-25 percent shortage statewide for RV technicians. The institute offers training to individuals who would fill that gap and upon completion, be stationed in a dealership or as a mobile tech almost immediately. He says more trained technicians will reduce the time it takes to repair the recreational vehicles and thus improve the consumer experience. 

However, the initiative doesn’t stop with the Elkhart facility. The RVTI is set up as the “central hub,” as it is in close range of suppliers and manufacturers in Michiana, however Hemmeler says the institute has licensed partners that will teach its curriculum nationwide. 

“Of course, you can always come here in Elkhart to train, but we’ve also created the curriculum in a learning management system that allows us to distribute the education across the country. Though it will always be an option to train in Elkhart at the physical facility here, we will have licensed partners across the country who will also be teaching our curriculum and educating folks in the industry with our curriculum. Places such as other dealerships, community colleges, we recently signed an agreement with Camping World, who will be training their employees with our curriculum.”

Hemmeler said RVTI has even partnered with a correctional facility to train non-felon female inmates to become RV technicians on location. 

The RVTI had its official first day of classes and held a grand opening ceremony Monday.

Hemmeler says the institute will launch curriculum nationwide.

Source: http://www.insideindianabusiness.com/story/41087801/rvti-officially-opens-in-elkhart

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Getting the Word Out About Manufacturing & Logistics

By J. Mark Howell, President and Chief Executive Officer, Conexus Indiana | September 20, 2019

As the epicenter of the nation’s advanced manufacturing and logistics industries, Indiana has a compelling story to tell about how Hoosier companies make and move the goods people depend on every day.

Our goal is to ensure everyone hears these stories – many of which share a common theme focused on cutting-edge technologies that are transforming the way products are made and moved around the world and the people who use them.

Conexus Indiana launched an educational series earlier this year to bring these stories to young adults around the state. Through our Movers, Makers & Mixers events we have stimulated lively discussions about advanced manufacturing and logistics in the 21st Century and dispelled myths about the industries.

Indiana’s leadership position in the advanced manufacturing and logistics industries is evident in the numbers. One in five Hoosiers works in these industries and Indiana leads the nation in manufacturing job growth while offering competitive salaries upwards of $77,500 in the manufacturing sector and $65,000 in logistics.

Perceptions about careers in advanced manufacturing and logistics, however, aren’t as impressive.

Our research shows that most Hoosiers are unfamiliar with the advanced manufacturing and logistics industries and as a result have negative or outdated perceptions of careers in these industry sectors. Our research also shows that most people don’t know these industries offer meaningful, good-paying careers with benefits and opportunities to grow and make an impact.

Those familiar with the industries, however, are more likely to have positive perceptions of the industry. Educators have confirmed that once students are exposed to manufacturing and logistics and learn about the innovative and high-tech technologies used to make and move products, the more likely they are to be excited about pursuing a career in these industry sectors.

Movers, Makers & Mixers is one of many talent programs Conexus Indiana developed and delivers to change perceptions and engage more people in the industry.

Industry trailblazers and thought leaders have helped us share stories about the impact of technologies, such as 3D printing, Internet of Things, additive manufacturing, block chain, augmented and virtual reality and big data, on the industries’ competitiveness, productivity and profitability. We’ve reached hundreds of young adults this year and will continue our tour throughout 2020.

The Movers, Makers & Mixers events underscore the benefits of storytelling and verify effective ways to impact perceptions. Specifically, we’ve learned:

The data are accurate; the more people know about the industries, the greater interest they show in pursuing careers in those industries. Industry partners from Cummins, ClearObject, and Cook Regentec energized young adults and stretched their imaginations when talking about what it means to be a manufacturer, the migration of technology into these industries and how it is redefining manufacturing and logistics.

It’s never too early or too late to share stories about the advanced manufacturing and logistics industries. Our Movers, Makers & Mixers events are geared toward young adults, but we also offer programs to students in high school and college, as well as working adults. Central to our programs are opportunities for students to interact with industry experts and visit manufacturing and logistics operations.  

We need to be relentless in telling our industries’ stories. We’ve got so many stories to tell and so many incredible people who want to help us spread the word.

Our work reaches across the state in high school classrooms, on college campuses, in manufacturing and logistics facilities, at large events and, in the case of Movers, Makers & Mixers, in local breweries and restaurants.

Movers, Makers & Mixers has made five stops around the state with three more events planned later this year in South Bend and Terre Haute in September and Evansville in November. You can register to attend our events by clicking here.

Our stories are only going to get more interesting as the industries evolve. It’s a great time to be a storyteller – and to be a mover or maker.

J. Mark Howell is the chief executive officer of Conexus Indiana.

Source: http://www.insideindianabusiness.com/story/41074556/getting-the-word-out-about-manufacturing-logistics

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