Evansville in 2040
In 2010, the Evansville Metropolitan Planning Organization (EMPO) applied for a $1.4 million federal grant to create a regional plan for sustainable development in Henderson (Kentucky), Vanderburgh, and Warrick counties. Only 42 of the hundreds of applicants received money, and Evansville was on that list.
Once the money was in place, EMPO worked hand in hand with Lochmueller Group (formerly Bernardin, Lochmueller & Associates). Committees were formed with local civic, business, education, and nonprofit leaders involved. Public meetings gave everyone a chance to voice an opinion.
It took months of research and planning. In April 2014, the Millennial Plan for 2040 was finalized. Lochmueller Group’s Mike Shoulders led most of the project, along with 10 others from the company.
Mike Hinton, president of Lochmueller Group, says getting to work on the Millennial Plan for 2040 was an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“It is a long-range look at a desirable EMPO region,” says Hinton. “When you look to 2040, it frees you up to consider the potential that exists in this marketplace. And to do it with an approach that is sustainable.”
Hinton says the Millennial Plan was put together with lots of public engagement. It also brought together leaders from three counties, something that rarely happens.
The Millennial Plan is divided into six goals: transportation and infrastructure, housing and neighborhood development, workforce and economic development, environment and healthy communities, arts and culture, and building and land development. In this feature, we’ve broken down each of those topics.
“It won’t happen exactly like this plan,” says Hinton. “What this does is provide a pretty good map for saying ‘This is conceptually what we want to have happen.’”
Growing the Economy
Planning what kind of jobs and development Evansville needs
No industry or business is immune to ups and downs in the economy. Evansville, once seen as a center of manufacturing, has seen many of its largest factories close. But by developing a diverse, sustainable local economy, the Tri-State will be better able to withstand market fluctuations.
“Evansville has always framed economic development with manufacturing,” says Bob Grewe, manager of community development services for Lochmueller Group. “On the other hand, looking forward, manufacturing does not have the same growth capacity as professional services and that sort of thing. It’s an opportunity to diversify.”
The Millennial Plan calls for making the region more attractive to emerging industries and employees, and support of small businesses by incentivizing their expansion. The best businesses will be clean, green, and high-tech enterprises.
“We think that sustainability includes economic resilience,” says Mike Shoulders, urban designer and regional planner for Lochmueller Group.
“Communities that have a broad foundation and diversity, that are not reliant on just one big factory, that’s a big part of sustainability. Most of the projects that we propose are large, but they are sustainable.
The Indiana University School of Medicine, which will expand with a new campus in Downtown Evansville in 2017, will have an enormous impact on the area. And since it is considered infill development, it’s exactly the kind of investment the Millennial Plan calls for.
“It is exciting for sure. It is perfect timing, to dovetail with this (sustainable) initiative,” says Bob Grewe, economic development planner for Lochmueller Group. “We hope it will kick start it. The school is going to be wonderful, and there will be opportunities for related investment. This plan can help guide that growth.”
One of the biggest economic development ideas laid out in the Millennial Plan is a new area called The Evansville Wharf. If a new slack water river port is built west of Evansville near Howell Yard, the property currently occupied by Mulzer Crushed Stone might become available.
The Wharf would be an extension of Downtown, a mixed-use, mixed-income development. It would create a river boardwalk and offer shopping, dining, and an urban park. It also would serve as a marina, with personal watercraft docking near Pigeon Creek.
Seyed Shokouhzadeh, executive director of the Evansville Metropolitan Planning Organization, says for any of the economic development idea to come to fruition, local residents will have to support them.
“The whole goal of this plan is to introduce new policy,” says Shokouhzadeh. “How do we want to live 25 years from now; how do we want our community to look 25 years from now? Who do we want to be? Do we want to be a community where our young people want to come back? These are the questions we need to ask ourselves.”
I just returned from a quick day trip to Shepherdsville, Kentucky, which is approximately 15 miles south of downtown Louisville on Interstate 65. It is a place I go several times a year because our magazine printing partner, Publishers Press, is located in the small town in Bullitt County. They also have a facility 12 miles south in the even smaller town of Lebanon Junction.
I am often asked “Who prints your magazine?” Occasionally I am asked “Do you print your magazine?” Some people then are curious why Evansville Living and Evansville Business are not printed in Evansville. We are very fortunate to have the third-largest magazine printing company in North America just two hours away, and in Evansville, there are no true magazine printers. (It might take a few more than two hours of travel from this point on, as I have recently had reason to stop along the interstate for a visitor with flashing lights, which has caused me to slow down a bit.)
Publishers Press is one of the most interesting companies that I know of. Founded in 1866, the now 148-year-old family-owned company is led by two brothers, Michael and Nick Simon, who are fifth generation Louisvillians. Prior to Michael and Nick, the company was grown exponentially under their father, a legend in the printing industry, Frank E. Simon. There are two portraits of Mr. Simon that I see in the home office and damn if he doesn’t look like the kind of guy I would’ve liked to know — big smile, holding what I am told was an ever-present cigar. Everyone has always told me he was a larger than life character.
The company now prints more than 1,000 titles and employs more than 1,400 people between the two plants. There is no nepotism policy here as multiple generations of family members work at the plant and the number of people who have 30, 40, 50 years is truly a testament to the Simon family. I have met many people over there now in managerial positions that started at Publishers Press right out of high school and never worked anywhere else.
Surprisingly, there have been quite a few Evansville connections at Publishers Press. The longtime vice president of sales until recently, one of our main contacts, was an Evansville native. Our technical representative also is from Evansville and still has family here. So we’ve always felt a close Evansville connection.
But what I like best about a company that we have done business with since our inception is the incredible customer service that even as long as we’ve been with them, we find truly remarkable. I truly believe that starts at the top, and in this case, I know it does. There is always a direct line open to the CEO Michael Simon’s office and an “anything else I can do for you” approach.
On Aug. 1, Tucker Publishing Group celebrated the 15th anniversary of the founding of our company. I thought it was high time and hopefully interesting to learn about such an important partner who helps deliver this magazine to your mailbox every month.
The Back Talk interview I conducted with noted raconteur Pat Shoulders (page 80) was originally scheduled on a Friday afternoon for just 30 minutes prior to going to the off-site photo shoot. Who were we kidding?
As always, I look forward to hearing from you.
Todd A. Tucker
Let’s Do Lunch
Jan Howell knows Martin’s breakfast order by heart.
The customer from Henderson, Kentucky, “gets three egg whites, a slice of bacon crumbled into it, and that’s it,” says Howell, owner of Emge’s Deli and Ice Cream, which is located at 206 Main Street.
What started out in 1932 as a wholesale meat shop owned by Victor Emge, in an alley off Main Street, serving mostly barge traffic, has morphed into a walkway staple. In 1974, Howell and her late husband Tom, owners of Potato Processors on Virginia Street, decided to purchase the wholesale meat shop so Emge could retire, and moved it to the walkway 20 years ago.
“We’ve always been in the food business,” says Howell. “Once you get into it, it’s in your blood. And everybody likes to eat.”
Emge’s opens at 7:30 a.m. each weekday for breakfast, with Howell’s son Rick Slater arriving at 6 a.m. or earlier to start kitchen prep work. After graduating from Central High School, he joined the U.S. Army, and then worked in the industrial insulation business for three years, a far cry from the world of fresh vegetables and meat he has worked in for the past 30 years at Emge’s.
As the head cook, he plans the deli’s menu each week, including a different plate lunch each Wednesday. However, the deli’s specialty is its variety of sandwiches and salads.
“I would say weekly we have around 25 to 30 different salads,” says Slater. “There’s American and German potato salad and varieties of coleslaw which include creamy, vinegar, and Oriental coleslaw. The penne pasta, with homemade ranch, bacon, and bell peppers, is a favorite, but from a selling perspective, the broccoli raisin salad may just be the crowd favorite.”
Howell arrives each morning anywhere from 6 to 8 a.m. “Executive privileges,” she says with a smile.
While she doesn’t often cook anymore, she still is active at the deli when help is needed, like separating egg whites for breakfast orders or bagging individual catering lunches. Emge’s Deli has only four regular employees, including Slater’s daughter Renae, and an extra set of hands during the deli’s popular Taco Thursday lunch, which started 10 years ago.
“That’s what’s fun,” says Jan. “I’ll see a recipe and say ‘let’s try it.’ That’s the fun part, the creativity.”
Future plans for Emge’s include a new look, according to Jan. “Let them wonder what it’s going to be,” she jokes. “I could just mean dying my hair.”
For more information about Emge’s Deli and Ice Cream, call 812-422-3026 or visit its Facebook page.
Call Me, Maybe
Getting ready to make a phone call? Make sure to dial all 10 digits. The new 930 area code is changing the way people in the Tri-State use their phones.
Beginning Sept. 6, callers must use 10-digit dialing for local phone calls. Otherwise, they’ll hear “Please hang up and dial again.”
That’s because the 812 area code is running out of numbers. Rather than split that large region in two, the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission chose to add numbers in the 930 area code to the same geographic area. The new area code will be added to the 812 region, which includes these Indiana cities: Evansville, Bloomington, Columbus, New Albany, Terre Haute, Indiana, and others.
Natalie Derrickson, the communications manager for the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, says the new numbers won’t affect long distance charges.
“The most important thing to remember about this area code relief is that the 930 area code is an overlay — meaning that the 930 area code and the 812 area code will service the same geographic area and will not change long distance calls,” says Derrickson. “What is currently long distance will remain long distance. In addition, both 812 and 930 numbers will continue to be assigned.”
The overlay method allows people to keep their numbers, but it also means businesses or neighbors — even if they are next door to each other — could have different area codes. Derrickson says now is the time to practice dialing those extra digits.
“The best way for both businesses and residents to adjust to 10-digit dialing is to begin practicing early, which is why the permissive dialing period began March 1,” says Derrickson. “It is important to inform customers of this change now, before it is mandatory to dial the area code first, to avoid any confusion when attempting to make a call. Businesses can remind customers in person, while they are checking out with the cashier, by adding information on their voice mail or call waiting line, and by updating information on their website.”
Beginning Oct. 6, new telephone lines or services can be assigned the new 930 area code.
For more information about the new area code, call 317-232-2701 or visit in.gov/iurc/.
Race to Renovate
Even as some of their competitors turned on each other, childhood sweethearts John and Whitney Spinks powered right on through.
The husband and wife duo, originally from Evansville, have been in a relationship for the last 12 years (married for the last four). That type of closeness gave their team an edge in the most surprising venue — reality television.
HGTV’s “Flipping the Block,” an eight-week series, premiered on July 20 featuring four skilled duos who moved into identical units in a dilapidated condo in Glendale, California, and must execute room by room renovations, and later auction the rehabbed units for a chance to win a $50,000 cash prize.
“We were working with some of the biggest names on HGTV (Josh Temple, David Bromstad, and Nicole Curtis),” says Whitney. “It was both exhausting and invigorating, and so overwhelming, because of the stress and deadlines, but at the same time, it was so rewarding and we would do it all over again.”
The Spinks purchased their first home in 2011 in Jacksonville, Florida, and at the same time, Whitney created a blog about interior design and do-it-yourself projects around the home called drabtofabdesign.com, which is how HGTV found them.
Whitney and John, both 26, graduated from F.J. Reitz High School in 2006 before attending the University of Southern Indiana. Whitney graduated with a degree in finance in 2010 while John attended USI for two years and later joined the U.S. Navy. John completed his military service in 2012 and started working in commercial construction while also studying construction management at the University of North Florida.
Meanwhile, Whitney, working as a financial analyst, realized that her passion was in interior design.
Each team is given a renovation budget to allocate however they choose. The team that receives the highest bid for their condo unit at auction, minus what they spent from the design budget, will win.
“It was physically one of the hardest things emotionally and psychologically,” says John. “We held up. We have been together such a long time. It really helped us out. Some of the teams were at each other’s throats a little bit more. We really do complement each other and I think growing up in the Midwest in Evansville and the courtesy and respect we have for each other and were taught to have will definitely be evident.”
Episodes air 8 p.m. Sundays on HGTV with the finale set for Sept. 7.
For more information about “Flipping the Block” on HGTV, visit hgtv.com/flipping-the-block.
The Evansville Country Club is meticulous when it comes to caring for its tees, fairways, and greens. But every summer, the grounds also are home to 11,000 flowers, creating the perfect, colorful backdrop.
Jeff Sexton has been the golf course superintendent at ECC for two years now — with 14 years of superintendent experience prior — and takes pride in his job and the flower production on the grounds.
“They (the flowers) add value. The one thing I take pride in is I look at my job here at the club as a stress reliever for the everyday working folk,” says Sexton. “I not only focus on perfection and turf, but I take pride in my job in the fact that everybody that comes to this facility has the opportunity to set aside their daily stresses and enjoy the grounds of Evansville Country Club. And I’ve always felt that way.”
This year, Sexton and his team grew 11,000 annuals in the 3,000-square-foot greenhouse on the east end of the golf course maintenance building. Twenty-five percent of the annuals start off as seeds while the other 75 percent are plugs — little plants that are about the size of a pinkie finger.
While most people are shielding themselves from the ice and cold in January, Sexton and his team are taking care of the newly planted seeds and plugs in the greenhouse. When the first week of May comes around and it is no longer freezing outside, the flowers are planted all around the ECC grounds.
“We’re usually done (planting) by the middle of June. The beds are fertilized and tilled, and the flowers are installed with mulch applied around them,” says Sexton of the planting process. “We’ve began using compost (from St. Louis), which is an organic type of fertilizer, to try to be a little more environment friendly.”
From the moment golfers enter the parking lot to the 18th green, the various types of annuals cover the club with color. Blues, reds, pinks, whites, and yellows, Sexton acknowledges that color is a major factor in picking the types of annuals to plant for the grounds.
“We stick to themes; it is just very clean and neat and tidy looking,” says Sexton. “I try every year to change my colors. I don’t change my plants necessarily, but the colors that the plants provide. I just keep it fresh for the members, so that they notice that it’s not the same thing every single year.”
All the annual plants — including vinca, salvia, lantana, Chilly Chili Pepper, and others — don’t come without upkeep or challenges. Sexton and his team fertilize, keep the weeds pulled, water the plants three to four times a week depending on weather conditions, and find ways to keep the deer from eating the plants.
In October, after the first frost of the season, Sexton removes the annuals from the ECC grounds. The flowerbeds are cleaned out and left bare during the winter months. This time allows Sexton to take a much-needed break after a busy season of growing and planting his annuals. In January, it starts all over again in the greenhouse.
For more information about Evansville Country Club, call 812-425-2243 or visit evansvillecountryclub.org.
Court of Law
The green light to move into the old J.C. Penney building in Downtown Evansville took longer than expected. But Barry Blackard and Dennis Brinkmeyer found it was worth the wait.
It took a year of planning, designing, constructing, and remodeling before Blackard & Brinkmeyer Attorneys, located at 512 Main St., became a reality. Blackard took the lead on the vision of the office space as he worked with Sarah Schuler of VPS Architecture.
Blackard & Brinkmeyer Attorneys practices criminal and family law. In December 2013, Blackard, a death penalty certified criminal trial lawyer and former felony public defender, and Brinkmeyer, who has nearly 40 years of experience focusing on criminal and family law, joined to form the practice. Blackard left the Vanderburgh County Public Defender Agency to become founder and managing member of Blackard & Brinkmeyer, while Brinkmeyer left private practice.
“We looked at a couple different spaces, before deciding on the old J.C. Penney building. I’m a big proponent of Downtown Evansville,” says Blackard. “It would be hypocritical of me to not do something myself. You have to do your part.”
Before the renovation, the office space was 1,650 square feet of empty space, gutted with concrete floors and brick walls, Blackard says.
“It was really a blank canvas to work with,” he says. “I wanted a really clean and professional look.”
Completed in January 2014, the final product includes a reception area, three offices, and a conference room. A receptionist greets clients in the open room with a large black and red area rug over the gray porcelain wood tile flooring. The hanging lighting, with circular lampshades of red, black, and white, can be adjusted for brightness and dimmed.
The walls are hand-painted with thick stripes of two gray shades, one dark and one light, which follow the length of the hallway. The Blackard & Brinkmeyer Attorneys’ logo, designed by Blackard, can be found throughout the office space.
The office extends to a long hallway on the left with a storage room for files, a glass conference room with a large wooden desk and white leather chairs. Open each large wooden door to find offices for Brinkmeyer, followed by Karie Kempf, paralegal, and Blackard at the end of the hallway.
“We wanted the office to reflect professionalism,” says Brinkmeyer. “We want people to see it as modern, but interesting.”
For more information about Blackard & Brinkmeyer Attorneys, call 812-423-3125 or visit blackardbrinkmeyer.com.
Many students at the University of Evansville and the University of Southern Indiana will have a leg up on their peers when they apply for their first post-college job. Thanks to partnerships with local businesses, students at these two universities are able to gain real world experience before they step foot into the professional world.
The Institute for Global Enterprise at UE exists to help students and companies become more competitive and successful in a global marketplace, says Katie Ciccarelli, the institute’s executive director. One of the programs sponsored by the institute — the Global Assistance Program — aims to bridge the gap between industry and academia.
“Student teams work under faculty who are industry experts who serve as coaches on real world projects that matter to our partners,” she says.
The GAP program, funded by Lilly Endowment Inc., is designed as a cross-disciplinary program where students from all majors are able to collaborate on various projects with regional partners.
On a recent project with Berry Plastics, engineering, environmental science, liberal arts, marketing, and communication students studied innovative ways for companies to be more environmentally friendly. The partnership also aids regional businesses, adds Ciccarelli.
“Sometimes companies struggle with the same challenges for years,” she says. “When a student team comes with a creative, different approach, that’s one of the most valuable things a company goes away with.”
More than two dozen regional businesses currently work with the Institute for Global Enterprise at UE, including Berry Plastics, Alcoa, Gibbs Die Casting, Curvo Labs, and Deaconess Health.
Students in USI’s Romain College of Business are deriving considerable benefits from USI’s partnership with SS&C Technologies through the SS&C Investment Accounting Accelerator. SS&C, a global software provider, opened an office in Evansville in 2011. Through the assistance of faculty members, students have access to sophisticated software relating to accounting and reporting for investments undertaken by hedge funds, insurers, and pension funds made possible by SS&C.
Dr. Mohammed Khayum, dean of the Romain College of Business, says students gain relevant and invaluable work experience through practical application through the partnership. In the classroom, students are able to explore “frameworks for recognizing business opportunities and innovative thinking,” says Khayum.
Over the last several years, students have worked on the challenge of designing an alternative to the cardboard pizza box with Berry Plastics. They also have provided ideas on new tent designs for Anchor Industries. Two new challenges for students — one involving the health care sector and another focused on the business impacts of cloud-based technologies — will launch this fall, says Khayum.
In 1987, four lawyers who were already practicing in the Evansville area broke away to form their own law firm of Rudolph, Fine, Porter and Johnson. Built from the ground up by Ross Rudolph, Marc Fine, Montgomery Porter, and James Johnson, it was eventually recognized as a leader in the region.
But when the firm’s partners saw an opportunity to extend their reach this year, they took it. On July 1, Rudolph, Fine, Porter and Johnson merged its 20-attorney office with Jackson Kelly PLLC, one of the largest 150 law firms in the U.S., for a total of 26 attorneys in the Evansville office.
“It is an opportunity for us to take advantage of the changing environment,” says Marc Fine. “Both the legal environment and the business climate in this area of the country are changing.”
The merger idea started from informal talks between partners from both firms. Jackson Kelly was looking for a larger footprint in the Evansville area, primarily because the firm believes the business environment will be enhanced in the near future.
Clients likely won’t notice much of a difference, says Fine, although the merger will allow the local lawyers to have greater access to information and outside experts. All of the lawyers from Rudolph, Fine, Porter and Johnson will continue with the same areas of law it’s done in the past.
“They have expertise we did not previously have,” says Fine. “They have systems in place that are representative of a larger organization that has greater resources.”
Jackson Kelly PLLC was founded in 1822 in Charleston, West Virginia, and opened a small office with three lawyers in 2011 in Evansville. It has 12 total locations in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Colorado, and the District of Columbia.
“Jackson Kelly is historically an energy firm,” says Fine. “They do a lot of coal, oil, gas, and mineral work. But they also have exposures in health care and banking. It is very comforting to have people who were doing similar work to us, just in different environments.”
For more information about Jackson Kelly PLLC, visit jacksonkelly.com.
Evansville native David Romain is president of Romain Tower Inc., a company in Houston that primarily builds, maintains, and upgrades cellphone towers all over the country. At any given time, Romain might have 10 crews working at a cost of $8,000 per crew per week. The corporations that use Romain’s services — Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, Ericsson, and T-Mobile are among his clients — usually pay for the work 60 to 90 days after the project has been finished.
That’s all well and good, except that Romain’s crew members are out on the road and can’t afford to wait 60 to 90 days to get paid. Neither can the people who house and feed them. It’s a challenge faced by small businesses more and more since the financial crisis of 2008.
The solution that Romain found came from another Evansville native and former college roommate, Sam Garau. In 2011, Garau said goodbye to his job at Fifth Third Bank, and a few months later, Todd Mazzier left his position as territory manager for Stryker Instruments, to purchase a franchise from Interface Financial Group, which calls itself “North America’s largest alternative funding source for small business.” While IFG provides software and other back-office support, the bulk of the capital is coming directly from Garau and Mazzier. They already have put more than $5 million into the hands of small businesses.
“Mainly, we want to make sure we understand who is paying our client,” Garau says about their guidelines for funding. “If Romain Tower, for example, is buying an invoice from Ericsson, we know that Ericsson is a billion dollar corporation. Once we can verify that Ericsson has approved the invoice, our underwriting can go into place.”
“The people we are financing are cash flow strapped,” adds Mazzier. “They might have all these invoices, but they don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars in the bank. That’s where we come in. Our goal is to eventually make these companies bankable, so that in a year or 18 months they can go to their bank and get that line of credit they need, and they move on from us.”
From his Greenway Plaza office in Houston, Romain is able to send out as many as 12 crews at a time. That allows him to run the business near full capacity.
“With our crews costing $5,000 to $10,000 per week, those are big numbers for us,” says Romain. “Bottom line is, without funding, we would not be able to run as many crews.”
For more information about Interface Financial Group, call 1-800-387-0860 or visit interfacefinancial.com.