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Ballard solicits business help in aid of Indy Parks

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About 500 leaders from 144 local companies were set to join Mayor Greg Ballard on Thursday at the downtown Westin Indianapolis hotel for a lunch benefiting the Indianapolis Parks Foundation.

With the help of Indy Parks and Recreation Director Stuart Lowry and Indianapolis Parks Foundation Executive Director Cindy Porteous, Ballard will encourage the executives to step up their corporate partnerships and contributions in support of local parks, which have seen their budgets slashed during the recession.

In 2009, Indy Parks had a $33 million annual budget. For 2010, Ballard cut it by $5.8 million, or nearly one-fifth.

To shore up the gap, Indy Parks is increasingly relying on financial support and personal volunteerism from the business community. The Indianapolis Parks Foundation has already raised $170,000 in corporate donations in advance of today’s lunch, its primary annual fund-raising event. Today, Porteous said, she hopes to raise at least another $30,000. Indianapolis Power & Light Co. is the event’s title sponsor.

To emphasize the impact of even the smallest gifts, Porteous said, Ballard will ask audience members to contribute $100 each. An IndyParks or Parks Foundation employee will sit at each table to share specifics about how donations will be applied. For example, Porteous said, $100 will buy 10 new basketballs, 85 seedling trees, 13 swimming-pool kickboards, or pay for the transportation of 30 children for a summer fieldtrip.

“I wish I could tell you $100 would build a greenway trail. But every dollar counts,” Porteous said. “We want to make it real, make it tangible.”

Thanks to the business community’s help, the Parks Foundation is in a good position to assist the struggling Parks Department. It now has nearly $10 million in total assets, Porteous said, thanks largely to a $7.3 million grant in December from the Lilly Endowment.

Local businesses have also offered assistance. Mark Howell, president of locally-based cell phone distributor Brightpoint Inc., will be on hand at the lunch to receive recognition for his company’s contributions. So will ProLiance Energy Vice President David Pentzien and IPL Vice President Greg Fennig.

The Parks Foundation is looking for any help it can get from businesses, Porteous said, whether big or small. It will manage 52 capital projects in local parks over the next two years.

“We cannot be everything to Indy Parks. We cannot solve all their problems,” she said. “But we have enough $100 ideas to match every dollar that’s given in the room today.”

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  1. Cramer agrees...says don't buy it and sell it if you own it! Their "pay to play" cost is this issue. As long as they charge customers, they never will attain the critical mass needed to be a successful on company...Jim Cramer quote.

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  3. I've been looking for news on Corner Bakery, too, but there doesn't seem to be any info out there. I prefer them over Panera and Paradise so can't wait to see where they'll be!

  4. WGN actually is two channels: 1. WGN Chicago, seen only in Chicago (and parts of Canada) - this station is one of the flagship CW affiliates. 2. WGN America - a nationwide cable channel that doesn't carry any CW programming, and doesn't have local affiliates. (In addition, as WGN is owned by Tribune, just like WTTV, WTTK, and WXIN, I can't imagine they would do anything to help WISH.) In Indianapolis, CW programming is already seen on WTTV 4 and WTTK 29, and when CBS takes over those stations' main channels, the CW will move to a sub channel, such as 4.2 or 4.3 and 29.2 or 29.3. TBS is only a cable channel these days and does not affiliate with local stations. WISH could move the MyNetwork affiliation from WNDY 23 to WISH 8, but I am beginning to think they may prefer to put together their own lineup of syndicated programming instead. While much of it would be "reruns" from broadcast or cable, that's pretty much what the MyNetwork does these days anyway. So since WISH has the choice, they may want to customize their lineup by choosing programs that they feel will garner better ratings in this market.

  5. The Pedcor debt is from the CRC paying ~$23M for the Pedcor's parking garage at City Center that is apprased at $13M. Why did we pay over the top money for a private businesses parking? What did we get out of it? Pedcor got free parking for their apartment and business tenants. Pedcor now gets another building for free that taxpayers have ~$3M tied up in. This is NOT a win win for taxpayers. It is just a win for Pedcor who contributes heavily to the Friends of Jim Brainard. The campaign reports are on the Hamilton County website. http://www2.hamiltoncounty.in.gov/publicdocs/Campaign%20Finance%20Images/defaultfiles.asp?ARG1=Campaign Finance Images&ARG2=/Brainard, Jim

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