Making companies say, 'I do'

June 4, 2008
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Lots of Indiana towns will do almost anything to get a factory or warehouse. That often means skipping pointed questions about corporate citizenship for fear of losing the project.

A Lebanon city council member isn't looking the other way, though.

Dick Robertson is pressing a New Jersey company to support the community before voting for local incentives the company wants in order to build a $23.5 million refrigerated warehouse in Lebanon Business Park.

Robertson wants verbal assurances from U.S. Cold Storage Inc. that it will back things like Little League and the Fourth of July parade. More companies used to put their names on activities that make communities better places, he says, and they should do it again.

Without mentioning names, Robertson says some companies entering Lebanon in recent years haven’t risen to a high standard of corporate citizenship.

When Cold Storage Vice President Diane Sawyer was grilled on the point at a council meeting this week, she gushed about Lebanon’s quality of life and the company’s green credentials and intent to hire locally. The company also will support city police and fire protection, she said.

But she stopped short of promising more.

Robertson doesn’t want to force Cold Storage or any other company to put its intentions in writing. However, he does want at least a verbal commitment to invest more than the bare minimum in the community.

Lebanon’s council must vote twice to approve an incentive package, and the first vote is expected Monday.

If you were Robertson, how would you vote?


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  1. How much you wanna bet, that 70% of the jobs created there (after construction) are minimum wage? And Harvey is correct, the vast majority of residents in this project will drive to their jobs, and to think otherwise, is like Harvey says, a pipe dream. Someone working at a restaurant or retail store will not be able to afford living there. What ever happened to people who wanted to build buildings, paying for it themselves? Not a fan of these tax deals.

  2. Uh, no GeorgeP. The project is supposed to bring on 1,000 jobs and those people along with the people that will be living in the new residential will be driving to their jobs. The walkable stuff is a pipe dream. Besides, walkable is defined as having all daily necessities within 1/2 mile. That's not the case here. Never will be.

  3. Brad is on to something there. The merger of the Formula E and IndyCar Series would give IndyCar access to International markets and Formula E access the Indianapolis 500, not to mention some other events in the USA. Maybe after 2016 but before the new Dallara is rolled out for 2018. This give IndyCar two more seasons to run the DW12 and Formula E to get charged up, pun intended. Then shock the racing world, pun intended, but making the 101st Indianapolis 500 a stellar, groundbreaking event: The first all-electric Indy 500, and use that platform to promote the future of the sport.

  4. No, HarveyF, the exact opposite. Greater density and closeness to retail and everyday necessities reduces traffic. When one has to drive miles for necessities, all those cars are on the roads for many miles. When reasonable density is built, low rise in this case, in the middle of a thriving retail area, one has to drive far less, actually reducing the number of cars on the road.

  5. The Indy Star announced today the appointment of a new Beverage Reporter! So instead of insightful reports on Indy pro sports and Indiana college teams, you now get to read stories about the 432nd new brewery open or some obscure Hoosier winery winning a county fair blue ribbon. Yep, that's the coverage we Star readers crave. Not.