A message from President and CEO, Tara Barney


Jim Clifton, the CEO of Gallup, regularly takes the pulse of the world’s 6 billion citizens in his work. That hasn’t always been the case. For decades Gallup was well-known as a U.S.-based company.  How did Gallup become a worldwide organization? More customers. The guru of polling has long known “the secret to creating jobs is to create customers.”

America has about six million active businesses. Ninety-nine percent of them are small businesses. The same is true of the Southwest Indiana Chamber; we are an association of small and medium size businesses; we succeed when your businesses grow customers. And our region thrives as we create the economic energy that feeds existing companies and fosters start-ups.

These past two months our region has rightfully enjoyed an injection of economic energy into our local economy we often overlook: graduation day. As thousands of area high school graduates join thousands of newly minted degree recipients from the University of Southern Indiana, the University of Evansville, Ivy Tech and others, the opportunity for our employers is huge. How well we as a region succeed in retaining this array of talent – future entrepreneurs, scientists, business people – matters. About 70% of these graduates will decide on their first job based on where they want to live. Yes, they want a good job and they look for those jobs in cool places. Winning their attention and interest is the highest priority of the Southwest Indiana Chamber.

Where can the Chamber move the needle?

With our partner WorkOne, we are piloting the “SITI Network” to convene manufacturing employers, academic institutions, non-profits and others to identify gaps in the path through high school to a good job. We are starting with manufacturers and expect to expand to other key industry sectors.

We are encouraging businesses to welcome interns, apprentices and “work-experience” opportunities for students. The Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation’s Opt-IN program is an exciting example. The program connects students’ passion and interests with open positions in our community by focusing on both education and transferrable skills early in their high school careers. There is no better way for employers to identify and hire talent and for young talent to become career savvy.

Our policy team is working with our legislators to reduce regulatory roadblocks that challenge small business growth and diversification.  Remember, as small business earns customers, their growth requires jobs.

We are championing Quality of Place investments that build our region’s brand and capture the interest of our new graduates as well as our residents and guests.

Our success as a region is in our hands: The Southwest Indiana Chamber is your partner in creating economic energy and adding new customers for our businesses – small, medium and large – and for start-ups as well as long-standing existing companies. What’s our secret sauce? Our colleges and universities, our great K-12 options, and most importantly our graduates.

Congratulations to the classes of 2018. We hope you find your dream career here in Southwest Indiana. Together we thrive!