IdeaFestival 2014: Complementing the Computer

By: Jordan Cornett

Sometimes I wonder what my grandkids will find the most ridiculous about my life. I used to laugh when my grandma told me stories that involved her one-cent gum or the first time she saw a television. Then I remember I had dial-up Internet and my first “cell-phone” was the size of a brick that doubled as a walkie-talkie. Laugh away, hypothetical grandchildren.


Kentucky Coders teach attendees how to code their own website.

This morning at IdeaFestival, my mind was pushed to the limits once again as George Mason University economist and author Tyler Cowen explained the implications of the technology driven world we now find ourselves in.

Cowen pointed out that, unlike those born in the 20th century who saw amazing advances across all sectors, today’s generation has experienced the greatest change in one sector- technology.

“Average is over,” said Cowen. “Technology drives and measures everything. Only the best succeed.”

The last few years have proved his theory as statistics show the median-income household is no longer making gains like they once did in line with the GDP. This is due to the fact that most areas that were once experiencing quick progress, such as transportation, have stopped. Those who are high-earners today are riding the technology sector, which has not its stopped progress.

I quickly realized during Cowen’s presentation that staying up-to-date with technological advances isn’t just “cool”; it is vital to be successful in America’s near-future economy.

“But not everyone can be computer programmers,” I thought. “I’m certainly not. What does this mean for my future?”

Luckily, Cowen had the answer.

“Marketing and persuasion combined with a basic knowledge of computers is the formula to an economic future,” said Cowen.

Computers do just about everything for us today and will continue to do more and more. Still, there are some things they won’t ever be able to do. They can’t charm. They can’t persuade. They can’t market themselves.

So if you are a computer genius, stick with it! If not, then a fundamental knowledge of technology as well as humanities skills will serve you well. Rather than competing against the computer, the trick is learning to complement it.

I’m walking away from IdeaFestival today with a new goal: laugh at my brick walkie-talkie cell-phone WITH my grandkids. I may have had dial-up Internet, but that doesn’t mean I can’t stay up-to-date with technological trends today and in the days to come. Thanks, IdeaFestival for making me think in a new light once again!

Actually, I think I’ll tweet that. #ideafestival

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Jordan Cornett is an Account Coordinator at Heartland Communications Consultants, Inc. and frequent blogger for KIX.

IdeaFestival 2014- Opening Your Mind to the Possibilities

By: Jordan Cornett

Working in communications, I am often wondering how I can most effectively convey the right idea to my audience. While this certainly involves creativity, like any job, it can become routine as I work with similar clients in conveying similar ideas much of the time. It isn’t every day that I am able to sit back and think innovatively outside the realm of my clients’ specific needs.

That is why I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity to be a part of IdeaFestival 2014 this week. IdeaFestival was founded in 2000 and is a celebration for the intellectually curious who come together to explore the future of the arts, business, technology, design, science, philosophy and education. For three days, our region is fortunate enough to house this creative experience as experts from around the globe impart their wisdom to festival attendees.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t initially skeptical of many of the topics being discussed at IdeaFestival. In fact, when I first looked at my agenda for the week, I wondered why we should even take time to discuss topics such as immortality or the possibility of life on other planets.

But as I allowed myself to become more immersed in the subjects, my cynicism began diminishing and a new thought emerged. Maybe what is even crazier than thinking about these ideas is the failure to allow ourselves to open our minds and actually give them thought at all.

It is certainly an intimidating task to broach relatively unexplored subjects or learn how to communicate old subjects in new ways, but maybe that is exactly why we must. Where innovation ceases, discovery ceases. A round world remains flat.

I most particularly enjoyed this morning’s Art on the Edge seminar, when New York-based Creative Capital President Ruby Lerner introduced the audience to four very diverse, disruptive artists and thinkers who are influencing the world in unique ways through their art. Whether through photography, beekeeping or cooking, these artists all strive to influence the community through distinct approaches.

While many presenters such as these strive to combat present-day issues like technology waste and unhealthy eating habits, others focused on the future.

The conference opened up with science writer Lee Billings, who explored the future search for life in the universe as well as the profound implications the search holds for our civilization on earth. Philosopher Stephen Cave was next in line, discussing the idea of immortality and how such an idea has influenced and shaped civilization.

These experts are just a handful out of the dozens stretching the minds of participants this week. I have left the past two days of IdeaFestival with a mind exhausted from so many new thoughts, yet invigorated by them at the same time. More IdeaFestival updates coming tomorrow. Until then, I’m off to learn how to survive the great zombie apocalypse!

Jordan Cornett is an Account Coordinator at Heartland Communications Consultants, Inc. and frequent blogger for KIX.

Region celebrates Manufacturing Day

MFG DAY logoBusinesses, educators, economic development professionals and others throughout our region are taking time to celebrate National Manufacturing Day, which is Friday, Oct. 3.

There’s no doubt manufacturing is one of our most critical industry sectors. Last year, manufacturing supported one in six private-sector jobs and contributed $2.08 trillion to the national economy. That’s 12.5 percent of GDP.

It’s exciting to see our region’s existing manufacturers expand and new companies locate here, bringing more opportunities to workers and families. And these are not just any opportunities.

Advanced manufacturing is creating more and more technology-driven, high-paying jobs in fields such as robotics, information technology, physics, chemistry and more. Today’s workforce and the workforce of the future must be aware of these career prospects and the training that will prepare them for success. As manufacturing grows, so does its demand for employees with technical and analytical skills. In fact, according to the Manufacturing Institute, more than 82 percent of manufacturers report a moderate or serious shortage in skilled production workers.

Across our region, people are working together to address this challenge and help students and job seekers take full advantage of these career opportunities. And as Manufacturing Day approaches, some are paying special recognition to this innovative, promising sector.

Among those recognizing Manufacturing Day are Grayson County Schools, the Grayson County Chamber of Commerce and local manufacturers, who recently wrapped up their Manufacturing Week. A long list of activities included bringing 300-plus eighth-graders into manufacturing facilities to learn more about a variety of careers, from production to engineering to business administration.

Also, Hardin County Schools’ Early College and Career Center is set to host Manufacturing, Business and Industry Day on Oct. 2. Students will be able to interact with the district’s business and industry partners and learn more about the vibrant career paths of the manufacturing sector.

Elsewhere, One Southern Indiana’s Metro Manufacturing Alliance members, along with regional partners, will come together on Oct. 3 to educate the public about the numerous opportunities available in our diverse manufacturing industry. The day begins with area manufacturers exhibiting for area students at 8:30 a.m. A press conference is set for 9 a.m. at the Perkins Technology Center at the Ivy Tech Jeffersonville Campus. A tour of the center and its mobile STEM training laboratory will follow the press conference.

Additionally, as part of the Southern Indiana regional activities, students, parents, educators and the public are invited to take advantage of tours and open houses hosted by a number of area manufacturers including Owings Patterns in Sellersburg, Amatrol, Key Electronics, Flow Aero, BriovaRx and Transformation Network in Jeffersonville, S&J Precision and ERL, Inc., in New Albany, Diverse Woodworking in Corydon and Knight School of Welding in Louisville.

Our hats are off not only to the businesses and talented employees of this vital industry sector, but also to the community partners who agree the great things happening in manufacturing are worth celebrating and sharing.

One Knox Seeks Public Support to Stave Off Fort Knox Cuts

OneKnoxThe One Knox Policy Council of the Hardin County Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the CORE Committee, the Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs, area chambers of commerce and community leaders, is asking the public to electronically sign a letter discouraging the Army from making further cuts in personnel at Fort Knox.  The letter can be found at  

In what’s called the Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Assessment, the Army is considering how it would be organized if it has to reduce its workforce to 420,000 Soldiers by 2020.  One option being considered calls for cuts of approximately 7,600 military and civilian personnel at Fort Knox.  That includes the 3/1 Brigade Combat Team of 3,500 soldiers, which has already been inactivated.

That means an additional 4,100 cuts are being considered,” said Brad Richardson, CEO of the Hardin County Chamber of Commerce.  “That would erase all of the gains we saw as a result of BRAC 2005 and then some.”

Richardson said the cuts could equate to as much as $500 million in lost payroll and spending power in the region.

That obviously would have a severely negative impact, Richardson said, and decision makers should not overlook what the region and the state did to prepare for Fort Knox’s growth as a result of BRAC 2005.

The letter One Knox drafted showcases the many actions taken to support Fort Knox and the Army including local business who helped finance community tours, the development of new college courses, as well as the commonwealth’s $251 million in infrastructure investments.

Richardson says that level of support, coupled with all of the attributes the installation and the region offer, actually make it an ideal location for growth.

“We need the public’s help in making our case,” said Richardson, noting a strong letter-writing campaign will help illustrate the depth of the region’s support of Fort Knox.

The Army designated a public comment period on the SPEA options through Aug. 25.  Those interested in electronically signing can simply fill out the fields at the bottom of the letter and it will be automatically forwarded to a designated email address at the Pentagon. 

About One Knox.  The One Knox Policy Council serves as the central coordinating community partner to help the region respond in the most positive ways to opportunities associated with BRAC 2005 and future Fort Knox growth. Community leaders established One Knox in February 2006 at the encouragement of Fort Knox leadership seeking an integrated and coordinated community effort in response to BRAC 2005.  As BRAC 2005 actions were completed and funding sources declined, One Knox community outreach activities were absorbed into the Hardin County Chamber of Commerce but retain the same 10-county regional focus.  For more information, visit

Duke Energy Foundation Awards Grant for KIX Veterans Employment Initiative

DukeEnergySquareThe Duke Energy Foundation awarded a $50,000 grant to the Kentucky Indiana Exchange (KIX) to help fund its new veterans employment initiative, Where Opportunity Knox.  The program, set to launch this summer, will help connect 10,000 veterans and military spouses to career opportunities in the Greater Louisville Region, including Southern Indiana.

“Due to its proximity to Fort Knox and the U.S. Army’s program for transitioning soldiers, the Greater Louisville region has a unique competitive advantage when it comes to connecting veterans seeking careers with employers seeking highly skilled employees.  We appreciate Duke Energy’s support for a program that will help veterans and help make our region stronger,” said Beth Avey, Executive Director of KIX.

Employers who already have veterans on their team indicate that they are not only highly skilled but also possess the soft skills that employers are seeking in their workforce.

“It just makes good business sense, and we’re proud to be among the first investors in this program,” said Doug Esamann, President of Duke Energy Indiana.

“It’s not only the right thing to do for those who have given so much to our country, just as importantly, it’s the smart thing to do,” said Esamann.

Given its area of operations, Duke’s funding is particularly focused on helping employers in Southern Indiana connect with veteran talent.

KIX’s managing partners, One Southern Indiana, Greater Louisville Inc. and the Hardin County Chamber of Commerce, are also playing a leadership role in the program.  Their leaders look to leverage this program for economic development.

“With a well-coordinated and comprehensive effort to connect employers seeking talent with veterans seeking opportunities, we can become a veteran talent magnet and leverage it as a distinct competitive advantage for business retention, expansion and attraction,” said Wendy Dant Chesser, CEO of One Southern Indiana.

Career opportunity available

logo-ltaddSmallThe Lincoln Trail Area Development District, a longtime supporter that played an instrumental role in the creation of the Kentucky Indiana Exchange, is searching for an Associate Director of Area Agency on Aging and Independent Living. A senior leadership role, this is an incredible opportunity for a motivated, dynamic individual to make an impact on the quality of life of seniors throughout the region. Check out the job posting at

The deadline to apply is July 31.

Also, our genuine thanks and congratulations go to outgoing Associate Director Nancy Addington on her retirement and 29 years of dedicated service to the Lincoln Trail Area Development District.

Crowd celebrates Big 4 Bridge dedication

IMG_6377Wednesday was a monumental day for the Kentucky-Indiana region as the Big 4 Bridge was officially opened. Although the Louisville side has been open since February of 2013, construction of the Jeffersonville side just finished last week, allowing for pedestrians to make their way across the entire bridge.

The historical occasion was celebrated on the bridge Wednesday afternoon as both sides paraded to the middle of the bridge. Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Kentucky First Lady Jane Beshear led the parade from the Louisville end. They were met by dozens of pedestrians from the Indiana side of the river, who were led by Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore.

Hundreds of Kentucky and Indiana walkers and bikers joined to witness the official re-dedication of the bridge as Gov. Beshear, Fischer and Moore expressed their appreciation for the bridge’s opening.

Moore noted Jeffersonville has already benefited from the bridge’s opening. Restaurants and businesses have seen an increase in sales since pedestrians started using the bridge just over a week ago.

The Big 4 Bridge totals one mile from the bottom of each ramp and is open to pedestrians 24/7.

Make sure you take the opportunity to enjoy a stroll over the river and celebrate our region’s connection.

Training providers answer call for welders

Industry research clearly shows a strong need for welders throughout the KIX region, and preparing for a career in this growing industry with high earning potential is becoming more convenient than ever as education providers roll out demand-driven training programs. WeldingInstitute72

The latest is a partnership between Sullivan College of Technology and Design (SCTD) and Jefferson County Public Schools. SCTD’s Welding Institute classes begin July 1 and will meet for 11 weeks at Jeffersontown High School in Louisville.

The program aims to prepare students and graduates for the American Welding Society Certification exam. For more information and to enroll in the SCTD Welding Institute, visit

Also, classes are in session at the Welding Institute at the Mid-America Science Park (MASPark) in Scottsburg, Ind. The Scott County Economic Development Corporation and the City of Scottsburg partnered with Ivy Tech Corporate College to provide a wide spectrum of training opportunities for companies, employees and students.

Participants will earn a Technical Certificate in Industrial Technology and be prepared for additional certifications. Credits can also be applied toward an Associate of Applied Science degree. For more information, please visit

Additionally, Area Technology Centers affiliated with public school systems offer welding training, as do community and technical colleges throughout the region.

From the aerospace industry to bridge and highway construction to consumer electronics, there are plentiful opportunities for welders. And as advanced manufacturing technology continues to develop new uses for welding, opportunities are expanding.

According to Kentuckiana Works, Greater Louisville’s workforce investment board, the number of welding jobs will grow by 14 percent by 2020.

It’s exciting to see our region’s training providers and other stakeholders respond to this need. Such programs are not only helping our workforce develop the skills needed to take advantage of welding opportunities, but also illustrate to manufacturers that they’ll find the talent their businesses need right here in our region.

Entrepreneurs and investors connect

A series of statewide pitch competitions is bringing two incredible opportunities for entrepreneurs and those interested in Angel Investing in the KIX region.

The Kentucky Angel Regional Pitch Competition will feature Kentucky entrepreneurs presenting their business ideas to a group of local angel investors, individuals who provide capital for startup companies.

Elizabethtown will host the competition from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, June 19, at The Brown-Pusey House at 128 N. Main St. Lunch will be provided at this event.

On Wednesday, July 23, the competition comes to Louisville. That event will be hosted by Greater Louisville Inc., located at 614 W. Main St., from 4 to 5:30 p.m.

These are two of eight regional competitions in a statewide contest.

Entrepreneurs will have 10 minutes to pitch their ideas, vying for prize money and a spot in the final competition in the fall. The winners will be announced at the end of the events.

In addition to the pitches, the agendas include investor training. You’ll learn the basics of Angel Investing and how to become an accredited investor.

These no-cost events are also a great networking opportunity for entrepreneurs and investors.

As we strive to grow the economy and create jobs throughout our region, we know innovative small businesses are a critical part of the mix. Our community’s ability to support local entrepreneurs and cultivate those homegrown ideas is key to future economic development.

The Regional Pitch Competition promises to be a great way to learn more about the business ideas brewing in our region and whether investing is right for you.

To register for the Elizabethtown event, visit For more information, contact Lisa Williams with the Kentucky Innovation Network at (270) 765-1855 or

The Louisville competition will follow a half-day workshop on valuations hosted by Greater Louisville Inc.’s EnterpriseCorp and Louisville Enterprise Angels. For more information on the workshop or the Louisville pitch competition, visit

A First Timer’s Take on Idea Festival

An entrepreneur and good friend of the KIX team, Burt Walker, was a first time attendee to Idea Festival this year.  We graciously agreed to be a guest blogger and share his experience.


I’ve been hearing great things about Idea Festival for years, but until this year, I’ve never attended.   This year I had no excuse and fortunately, I was given a chance to attend as a guest of the Kentucky Innovation Network. On the way home, I scolded myself for waiting this long to attend as I contemplated all the ones I’d missed in the past.

I’m an entrepreneur and when I attend events like this, I inevitably do so looking through that lens.  On the continuum of level-of-interest in entrepreneurship ranging from say, “bored” to “very interested,” I fall well into the category of “obsessed.”

The latest and biggest buzzword in world of entrepreneurs, startups, and innovation is “Disruption.”  In the lexicon of the average person, this is usually a word with negative connotations.  Not so among the community of entrepreneurs.  Disruption is a great thing.  If a startup can be disruptive to its industry and offer value, it has a much better chance of succeeding.  It’s the equivalent of  “a better mousetrap.”  So, when I noted that one of the goals of Idea Festival is to create a collaborative environment of disruptive change, I knew it was something that would be of great interest to me.

I attended on the first full day, and it was clear to me there was a theme.  It was about communication, and primarily about unique, and often overlooked ways of communicating more successfully.

I learned that it is indeed possible to think like Sherlock Holmes from a noted author and how magicians manipulate and fool the smartest among us from a professional magician.  I also heard firsthand what it’s like to be imprisoned for 16 years for something you didn’t do and how poor communication and preconceived ideas resulted in the speaker’s wrongful conviction.  And finally, I saw how stand-up comedy isn’t just about being funny.  It’s actually sometimes practiced with scientific precision.  What’s more, comedy can often lead to people listening to and seeing things from a different perspective, when all other forms of communication would fail.   All of these talks were evenly woven with the theme of creative and often unrecognized forms of communication and how they can be used in beneficial ways.

As a businessman, it’s not hard to understand the importance of effective communication, but sometimes, we need to take off our old hats and put on new ones, just so we can see and understand things from a different point of view.  As an entrepreneur, its value is even more pronounced because we often need to communicate new ideas to people who are often very skeptical and uninterested.

My first day at Idea Festival was enormously rewarding.  I was amused, enlightened, informed, educated, and inspired.  It was evident from the diverse group in attendance, that it would be the same for people of all areas of professional life.  After all, who doesn’t benefit from better communication? It’s hard to think a day like that could be anything but worth the time and effort to attend.

I encourage anyone, regardless of age or area of interest to attend Idea Festival.  And by the way, if you go to Idea Festival and you don’t come away a better person,…well, I recommend seeing a therapist.