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WASHINGTON, D.C. (Inside INdiana Business) — The U.S. Department of Education has approved claims for 130 former nursing students who attended ITT Educational Services Inc., which was headquartered in Carmel and shut down in 2016. The department says ITT misled students about the accreditation of its associate degree in nursing program.

According to the DOE, ITT falsely told students it either had or would soon have the necessary accreditation that would help the students’ ability to get a nursing job.

“However, the school repeatedly failed to obtain programmatic accreditation for years as the accreditors found that ITT failed to meet standards for job placement and licensure pass rates, had insufficient physical and fiscal resources, and unqualified faculty,” the department said in a news release.

As a result of the ruling, more than $3 million in discharges has been approved for 130 students.

Since ITT’s closure more than five years ago, the DOE has approved about $660 million for some 23,000 students. The largest and most recent approval came last year after the department found ITT lied about employment prospects and the ability to transfer credits.

The approval is part of more than $415 million in borrower defense discharges made by the DOE, including more than $71 million for 1,800 former DeVry University students. The department says an investigation found DeVry made “widespread substantial misrepresentations about its job placement rates.”

The DOE says it is the first time claims have been approved associated with an institution that is still operational.

You can read more about the approvals from the DOE by clicking here.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Inside INdiana Business) — The former director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture is now responsible for a national organization representing ISDA’s counterparts across the U.S. In September, Ted McKinney was named chief executive officer of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture. McKinney most recently served as Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, McKinney talked about the importance of balancing all views when advocating policies.

“I love the fact that it’s nonpartisan. We have appointees and elected secretaries, directors and ministers,” said McKinney. “We have Democrats and Republicans, and we find a way to “pull the rope” in same direction, which is so rewarding and fun.”

While each state may have their own agricultural concerns, they also share broader issues like climate change, trade, regulatory oversight and, most recently, infrastructure.

This week, President Biden signed the $1 trillion infrastructure bill, a portion of which goes for improvements on ports, and locks and dams along key shipping channels.

“NASDA was very supportive of the infrastructure bill. And it’s because the infrastructure in many cases is so antiquated,” said McKinney. “Now, to be sure, I think our members would say there were things that they didn’t see as important, but you’re always going to get that in a bill of that magnitude.”

Another issue NASDA is focused on is supply chain disruptions. Whether it is meat, grains, or any exportable ag product, challenges at the ports are impacting farmers’ bottom line. McKinney warns farmers and producers who are hoping for a quick resolution may not see it for some time.

“I think we’re going to be well into 2022, before we started seeing major resolutions. It can’t come quick enough for us,” said McKinney.

While at USDA, McKinney led the development and implementation of the department’s trade policy, facilitated foreign market access and promoted opportunities for U.S. agriculture. He says the supply chain problems are not just an economic problem stemming from the pandemic. He sees politics in play.

“A lot of it is COVID cost. There’s no doubt about it. But it’s not all on that. Let me just take the [shipping] containers finding their way back to Asia Pacific, notably China, empty. What’s wrong with that picture. So that’s not just a COVID thing, that’s a policy issue.”

McKinney says somebody is paying a premium price to get unfilled containers back. He says the trade balance advantage goes to whatever country gets the containers back. “And the disadvantage comes to the U.S.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Inside INdiana Business) — The Internal Revenue Service has awarded more than $41 million in grants to eight Indiana organizations. The funding will support the recipients’ efforts to provide free federal tax return preparation to Hoosiers.

The grants are being awarded through the Tax Counseling for the Elderly program, which provides services for people age 60 or older, as well as the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, which offers services for low and middle-income individuals and families, people with disabilities, and limited English-speaking taxpayers.

The grant recipients include:

The IRS says the community partners that receive grant funding also receive tax law training, certification and oversight to assist with preparing accurate returns.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Inside INdiana Business) — Several Indiana colleges and universities are included in the 2022 College & University Rankings from WalletHub. The personal finance website compiled the list by comparing more than 1,000 institutions based on seven categories, including student selectivity, cost and financing, and faculty resources. 

Five hundred colleges and universities comprise the list. The other categories used to determine the ranking include campus safety, campus experience, educational outcomes and career outcomes. 

The University of Notre Dame and DePauw University are the only two Hoosier institutions in the top 100 at No. 38 and No. 98, respectively. The other Indiana representatives on the list include:

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology tops the list, followed by Princeton University, California Institute of Technology, Harvard University and Yale University. You can connect to the full list by clicking here.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Inside INdiana Business) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing more than $1.2 million in loans and grants for water and wastewater infrastructure projects in three rural Indiana towns. The funding is part of $272 million being awarded for projects in 37 states and Puerto Rico.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says investing in rural water infrastructure is part of the Biden administration’s efforts to build communities back up as recovery from the pandemic continues.

“When we invest in rural infrastructure, we build opportunity and prosperity for people in rural communities,” Vilsack said in a news release. These investments support the local economy by making rural communities attractive, economically viable and safe places to live and work, therefore helping to create and save jobs by attracting and retaining employers and workers.”

The town of Elizabethtown in Bartholomew County will receive a $687,000 loan to make needed updates to its wastewater facility. The project aims to bring the facility in compliance with Indiana Department of Environmental Management standards and help maintain safe drinking water.

The town of Hazelton in Gibson County will receive a $525,000 grant to make repairs to its water system, including rehabilitating the water treatment facility, water wells, and standpipe. The USDA says the town has experienced outages in its water source due to flooding from the White River and the repairs will provide a backup supply to help deal with disruptions in service.

Lastly, the Knox County town of Oaktown has been awarded a $50,000 grant to update its drainage systems with storm sewers, inlets, and ditches in critical areas. “The new storm water drainage facilities will increase storm water run off capture and more efficiently transfer storm water to appropriate outlets,” according to the USDA.

You can view the full list of recipients by clicking here.

WASHINGTON (Inside INdiana Business) — A former union official in northwest Indiana has been sentenced to prison.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) says Thomas Williamson of Schererville, who previously served as a business agent for Iron Workers Local 395 in Portage, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act extortion.

Court documents say Williamson organized and led an assault on a group of nonunion ironworkers in an attempt to obtain a contract to perform work on the Plum Creek Christian Academy in Dyer.

The DOJ says Williamson learned in early 2016 that the nonunion company was working on the project, visited the construction site and made threats to the workers to get them to stop working. Then, he visited the Dyer Baptist Church, with which the school was affiliated, and attempted to persuade church officials to use the union for the project, which the church refused.

The following day, Williamson and then-union president Jeffrey Veach led a group of rank-and-file union members who assaulted the nonunion workers, leaving one with a broken jaw that required multiple surgeries.

Williamson was sentenced to more than four years in prison after pleading guilty. Veach also pleaded guilty to the same charge and was sentenced last September to 42 months in prison. 

Both Williamson and Veach will be barred from holding any union position for at least 13 years after their prison sentences have ended.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Inside INdiana Business) – The Federal Aviation Administration has awarded more than $16 million in grants to six Indiana airports. The grants will be used for a variety of critical infrastructure and safety projects.

The funding is part of $335 million being awarded to 80 airports in 25 states.

“Airport infrastructure projects funded by this $335 million in federal funding will advance safety, improve travel, generate jobs and provide other economic benefits for local communities,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao.

The projects include purchasing aircraft rescue and firefighting equipment, constructing runways and taxiways, and repairing runways and taxiways, among others.

The Indiana airports receiving funding include:

The department says the total includes $300 million from the Airport Improvement Program and $35 million in CARES Act grants.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Inside INdiana Business) — Airports in three Indiana cities have received grant funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation to be used for infrastructure upgrades. U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-IN) says airports in Indianapolis, Huntington and Warsaw were awarded millions in funding.

“After working to secure funding for Indiana’s infrastructure, I’m proud to announce these grant awards for Huntington, Indianapolis, and Warsaw airports,” said Senator Young. “I’ll continue to advocate for investments that strengthen our state’s infrastructure so we can remain the Crossroads of America.”

The Huntington Municipal Airport is set to receive $1.32 million for runway rehabilitation. Indianapolis International Airport has secured $1.1 million to reconstruct a taxiway and the Warsaw Municipal Airport will get $1.13 million to rehabilitate a runway. 

WASHINGTON (Inside INdidana Business) – U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao has announced nearly $800 million in airport safety and infrastructure grants through the Federal Aviation Administration. Five Indiana airports have been selected to receive funding for infrastructure and safety projects.

Chao’s office says some of the projects include purchasing aircraft rescue and firefighting equipment, constructing runways and taxiways, repairing runways and taxiways, and installing aircraft lighting, among others.

“This nearly $800 million Federal investment in airport infrastructure will strengthen safety, improve travel, generate jobs and provide many economic benefits for local communities,” said Chao.

The Indiana airports include:

Chao’s office says the total includes $689 million from the Airport Improvement Program and $104.4 million in CARES Act grants to equal a 100% federal share.

“These 383 grants will allow airport sponsors to either begin or complete construction projects that will maintain the safety and efficiency of our national airport system,” said FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson.

A full listing of grants is available here.

WASHINGTON D.C. (Inside INdiana Business) — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has provided $225 million to Rural Health Clinics across the country for COVID-19 testing. The funding will support over 4,500 clinics to allow for expanded access to testing.

The funding comes from the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. Over $3.9 million was allocated to 79 rural health clinics in Indiana. 

“Today’s funding provides rural health clinics with resources and flexibility to boost their testing capabilities to fight COVID-19,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “Further expanding testing capacity, including at RHCs, is a crucial element of safely reopening our country and helping Americans return to work and school. A safe reopening is vital for Americans’ health and well-being, and especially so for those living in rural areas, who may have struggled with access to healthcare long before COVID-19 and found care even harder to access during this crisis.”

The Health Resources and Services Administration is also providing $500,000 to support technical improvements for expanding testing capabilities. A state-by-state breakdown of the funding can be found here