Small Business

EYE ON THE PIE: What really drives Hoosier economy?Restricted Content

September 15, 2008
Morton Marcus
I enjoy the propaganda of government agencies pleading the causes of special interests. This is the opening sentence of our state profile prepared by the U.S. Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy: "Small businesses are the heart of Indiana's economy." Frequently, we hear that farming is the beating heart of our economy. Others claim the thumping sound we hear is that of manufacturing. Teachers tell us the economy is only as steady as its educational footing. Steel has a claim...
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IT firm rakes in VC cash: Interactions Corp. has raised $35M since 2002 inception

September 15, 2008
Peter Schnitzler

A fast-growing Carmel startup is using a blend of innovative software and human guides to answer questions over the phone. The company could have located on either coast, but instead chose Carmel's Clay Terrace. And the company, Interactions Corp., has raised more than twice as much money as ChaCha Search Inc., a higher-profile startup in a similar business that's also housed in Clay Terrace.


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Commentary: Can we Bank on Indianapolis?Restricted Content

September 15, 2008
Tawn Parent
Whoa. Those figures, based on national averages from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., don't paint a pretty picture. People without bank accounts tend to keep cash at home or in their pockets, which increases the likelihood of crime. They create a market in which predatory lenders can thrive. They fail to reach their full potential, and so do the cities where they live. We have a problem. Now what can we do about it? We could take a cue from...
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Commentary: Indiana law chases away talentRestricted Content

September 8, 2008
Mickey Maurer
The Wellness Community of Central Indiana was established in 1995 as a not-for-profit organization to provide free support, education and hope to individuals and families affected by cancer. At The Wellness Community, cancer patients can share experiences and lend one another encouragement informally or through programs facilitated by professional counselors. The Wellness Community also provides a haven to grieve together in those instances when cancer is the ultimate victor. Today, the folks at The Wellness Community are grieving over a...
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Cautious contractors warm to Lilly-Covance deal: Drugmaker works to assuage fears of some local researchers worried they might lose lucrative workRestricted Content

August 25, 2008
J.K. Wall
When Eli Lilly and Co. announced Aug. 6 that it would more than double the amount of research and development work it outsources to Covance Inc., Dr. Alfonso Alanis got nervous. The CEO of contract researcher Anaclim LLC worried that more work for Covance would mean less work for local firms that provide drug development services to Lilly. Executives at other local firms, who asked not to be named because of confidentiality agreements with Lilly, also have fretted that their...
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Creating opportunities in tough times: Tightening economy requires 'patchworking' sources of incomeRestricted Content

August 11, 2008
Della Pacheco
Women aren't leaving the work force to stay home with their kids-they're being forced out in equal numbers with men. That's the word from "Equality in Job Loss: Women are Increasingly Vulnerable to Layoffs During Recessions," a congressional report released July 21. Often women who face job losses decide to forego the job hunt and opt instead for selfemployment, the report said. Might this job downturn trigger a boom in entrepreneurship for women? Not if they don't already have the...
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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: State's new mortgage law is regulation gone awryRestricted Content

July 28, 2008
Mike Hicks
Indiana is known as a state possessed of thoughtful and minimalist regulatory constraint of business. That's why a littleknown law enacted in 2007, which further regulates mortgage brokers, should come as a shock to many Hoosiers. As of July 1, when the law became effective, roughly 600 Indiana mortgage brokers (perhaps 1/10th of 1 percent of all small businesses in the state) were out of compliance. When a one-month extension granted by Secretary of State Todd Rokita expires next month,...
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Need something? They'll trade you: Industry consolidation is remaking bartering terrainRestricted Content

June 30, 2008
Jennifer Whitson
Marketing firm owner Lorraine Ball knows how to promote a business-a valuable commodity among cashstrapped entrepreneurs looking to bolster their bottom lines. So it's little wonder that she is able to trade her expertise for services she needs, whether it's help with an online video or time with a personal trainer. Ball is among a growing group of small-business owners embracing the age-old barter system, methaphorically scratching one another's backs to save on cash and credit. Although Ball prefers to...
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Commentary: Wishing Nat City a speedy recoveryRestricted Content

June 30, 2008
Mickey Maurer
On June 19, The New York Times business section led with an article titled, "Regional Banks are Rocked." The accompanying graphic indicated that National City Bank lost 86 percent of its market value since the beginning of this year. No wonder. The news has not been good. On June 10, Peter Raskind, chairman and CEO of National City, acknowledged publicly that on Feb. 5, the bank had been placed under a memorandum of understanding by the comptroller of the currency....
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Local tree-care firms respond to rash of storms: Forestry specialists and arborists work 14-hour days to keep up with sky-high demand in central IndianaRestricted Content

June 23, 2008
Anthony Schoettle
If there's a silver lining to high winds and torrential rain, it can be found in the bank accounts of companies called upon to clean up the mess. For the dozens of tree cutting, trimming and hauling firms that fill up seven pages in the local Yellow Pages, the storms of late spring came at just the right time. "We didn't get one call for three weeks prior to the storms hitting," said Russell Goodman, owner of locally based All...
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Retail survivor: resale: Consignment, thrift shops doing well despite nation's economic slowdownRestricted Content

May 26, 2008
Jennifer Whitson
As gas prices approach $4 a gallon and economic growth grinds to a standstill, many retail shops are feeling the pain. Consumers who don't have as much disposable income are cutting back on clothing and accessories purchases. The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index dropped to its lowest level in 26 years last month, and several reports find that consumers will likely be spending their so-called economic stimulus payments on bills, not shopping sprees. But one retail category already is...
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Crime-scene cleanup company eases burden of trauma victimsRestricted Content

May 19, 2008
Jennifer Whitson
On any given day, employees of Bio-Trauma 911 Inc. could be dealing with everything from the mess left by a decomposing body to a home that's been declared a biohazard. What may sound like a scene out of "CSI" is in fact a day at the office for the seven-person crime-scene cleanup company housed in unassuming offices in a strip center on East 56th Street at Interstate 465.
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Symphony Bank results keep hitting sour notes: CEO hopes to succeed by taking bank 'to the people'Restricted Content

May 19, 2008
Cory Schouten
Symphony Bank's palatial branch along East 96th Street-outfitted with a copper roof, towering domed ceiling and heated parking lot-was designed to telegraph wealth and stability. But instead, the $5 million Taj Mahal became the most prominent symbol of the bank's excesses and one reason the startup has lost money every year since its founding in June 2005. The bank, which has no other branches, has torn through two management teams and piled up annual losses of $2 million or more...
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Commentary: Earl Harris was a classic mentorRestricted Content

May 19, 2008
Mickey Maurer
They say you should live such a long life that, when you die, you will have no friends left to attend your funeral. Last month, Earl Harris passed away at the age of 90 and he went one better. At his request, he had no funeral at all. The only mark of his passing was a short obituary in The Indianapolis Star undoubtedly paid for by his family as per Starowner Gannett Co.'s policy. Permit me to add a little...
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Companies prepare for tougher breach law: Writer of security bill wanted more protectionsRestricted Content

May 12, 2008
Kristin Mcfarland
Imagine a busy local bank that signs several new accounts weekly. With each new customer, the bank receives that person's Social Security number, home and business addresses, and entire financial history. But what if a computer containing all that personal information-so useful for identity theft-is stolen from the building? Should the company notify its customers of the possible danger or hope the information itself is safe and keep quiet to avoid scandal? To answer those questions, the Indiana General Assembly...
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Angels invest where others fear to tread: Wealthy entrepreneurs join forces to create HALO Capital GroupRestricted Content

May 5, 2008
Peter Schnitzler
Some high-tech companies are so risky that even venture capitalists quiver. That's when they turn to angels, who aren't afraid to fly to the rescue of cash-strapped innovators with chancy yet possibly lucrative ideas. Last year, two dozen of central Indiana's most successful business veterans decided to intercede on behalf of Hoosier entrepreneurs. They formed HALO Capital Group, a network of angel investors who seek to speculate on promising Indiana startups. Every other month, the HALO group meets at a...
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Biz cards get creative: Smaller firms turning to bolder graphics to stand outRestricted Content

April 28, 2008
Jennifer Whitson
In the face of tough economic times, many small businesses are cutting back on advertising and canceling direct mailings as they tighten their financial belts. But some are still looking to stand out by jazzing up a basic: business cards. That's good news for local graphic design firms that specialize in business-card customization-an industry that generates an estimated $1.2 billion each year nationally. "Business has improved in this economic climate because creative cards are a cheap marketing tool," said Don...
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Housing slump not all bad news: Slow residential market boosts some small businessesRestricted Content

April 28, 2008
Jennifer Whitson
Many homeowners watching the housing market are fretting about their property values as for-sale signs linger, foreclosure postings dot neighborhoods and credit is harder to come by. But the housing turmoil is actually helping some local businesses-particularly those specializing in marketing properties and helping to sell them. "There are positives and negatives to the housing slump," said Brian Mayo, owner of Life Homes Inc., an Indianapolis-based property-sales and -management company started in 2005. "Purely from our business's perspective, we're one...
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VOICES FROM THE INDUSTRY: As business property taxes rise, who really pays the bill?Restricted Content

April 28, 2008
Brian Mann
All Indiana counties revised property tax bills as a result of an outcry by thousands of homeowners who fought back when they saw their 2007 tax reassessments and bills. Assessors had to go back to work and try again. So, they did. The new bills are out, and while it may be good news for homeowners, you can bet commercial property owners aren't turning cartwheels in the parking lot. The average assessment for commercial properties (where you shop, work and...
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Beef & Boards stays popular by catering to audience, insisting on quality actorsRestricted Content

April 14, 2008
Jennifer Whitson
Indianapolis-based Beef & Boards has survived 3-1/2 decades by giving viewers what they want. "We cater to our audience," said owner and artistic director Doug Stark. "I have no artistic problem with that."
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RETURN ON TECHNOLOGY: Business isn't losing any sleep over new technologyRestricted Content

March 31, 2008
Tim Altom
I've been looking over some business polls from 2007 and 2008, and I have to tell you I'm disappointed. As a technology columnist, I'd hoped that companies would be perpetually lathered over all sorts of thorny technical issues that only new purchases could solve and that I could critique. Silly me. But still, I went into the exercise with high hopes. After all, isn't every aspect of a business permeated by breakable, worrisome technology of all kinds? And doesn't every...
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SMALL BUSINESS PROFILE: MATRIX LABEL SYSTEMS INC.: Label maker manufacturing growth - again Fourth expansion project set to open this summerRestricted Content

March 24, 2008
Jennifer Whitson
SMALL BUSINESS PROFILE MATRIX LABEL SYSTEMS INC. Label maker manufacturing growth - again Fourth expansion project set to open this summer Within a month, Plainfield-based Matrix Label Systems Inc. will break ground on a fourth addition to its central Indiana facility, adding nearly 17,000 square feet of warehouse space and potentially more workers. That's just the latest growth spurt at the 23-year-old company that started out of a garage and now has 50 employees and $15 million in annual revenue....
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Farm Fresh clients pay a premium to support local growers, organicsRestricted Content

March 24, 2008
Jennifer Whitson
Matt Ewer and his wife, Elizabeth Blessing, launched Farm Fresh Delivery LLC in July. With nearly 500 subscribers already, the organically- and locally-grown-groceries delivery business is blooming in a segment where many large, mass-market retailers failed during the dotcom bust.
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VOICES FROM THE INDUSTRY: New tax break makes Indiana more attractive than everRestricted Content

March 17, 2008
Cedric D\'hue
Rapid growth in the high-tech fields of biotechnology and life science has made Indiana a shining example of how promoting emerging industries can transform an agricultural and manufacturingbased economy into a national leader in innovation. It has done so by creating an environment in which knowledge-based businesses can thrive. Building on this success, Indiana continues to position itself as a leader in emerging technologies. A new tax law that took effect this year will present another major step toward this...
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Inventors wary of reform bill: Radical changes to U.S. patent law may be hindrance to small playersRestricted Content

March 17, 2008
Scott Olson
A federal bill expected to receive a vote from the Senate this year would trigger the most radical changes to the U.S. patent system in more than 50 years. Supporters of the Patent Reform Act of 2007 want to switch to a "first-to-file" system that would grant patent rights to the first person to file an application. The United States is the lone country still using a "first-to-invent" system that rewards an inventor who first conceives the innovation, even if...
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