SmallBox staff gives up bonus to be 'Nice'

January 16, 2013
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Jeb Banner puts his money where his heart is.

So when his team at marketing firm SmallBox met an ambitious business goal in October, the local entrepreneur made good on his promise of a $5,000 bonus the staff could use for any purpose.

Being creative folks, they didn’t choose anything as mundane as a party—or even the cash. Instead, they batted around ideas like using the money for art installations around Indianapolis or buying billboards for a fake company to see what happened.

They ultimately decided to give it away.

SmallBox next month will award five $1,000 “Nice Grants” to individuals or groups that need some financial help pulling off a great idea.

Banner said the goal is to make small investments in projects that could have a big impact on the community. Applications are being accepted online through noon Friday, and the winners will be announced Feb. 8.

“We are hoping this results in five initiatives that make Indianapolis a more attractive place to live,” said Banner, who founded SmallBox in 2006. “It’s an idea everyone could get behind, tell their friends about.”

Recipients get the money with no strings attached. All SmallBox wants is periodic updates so it can help promote the projects—and hopefully inspire other companies to come up with similar programs.

And if community buzz results in more business for SmallBox, all the better.

“It’s altruistic, but it’s definitely selfish, too,” Banner said.

Although he denies having any preconceived notions of what the winning proposals will include—a staff committee will choose grant recipients—Banner said he hopes the money helps at least one new business gets off the ground.

“I really want to see a mix,” he said, ticking off possibilities for the grants ranging from startup funding to relocation assistance. “But we’re making this up as we go along.”

Banner expected about 100 applications by the deadline, and he said SmallBox may continue the grant program if it proves successful.

“We love the idea of doing something fun for the community,” he said.

What do you make of the grant program? And if you were picking winners, what kind of ideas would you support?

  • Right on!
    Reading this was like manna for the mind, just in time. I needed some new year mojo and got it. I'm inspired! And if SmallBox benefits along the way, well, good! Forwarded to some non-profit leaders and friends. Will be watching to see what happens, rooting for SmallBox and seeing about something small I can do in the spirit of niceness.
  • Nice!
    The team at Smallbox ROCKS!!

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  1. John, unfortunately CTRWD wants to put the tank(s) right next to a nature preserve and at the southern entrance to Carmel off of Keystone. Not exactly the kind of message you want to send to residents and visitors (come see our tanks as you enter our city and we build stuff in nature preserves...

  2. 85 feet for an ambitious project? I could shoot ej*culate farther than that.

  3. I tried, can't take it anymore. Untill Katz is replaced I can't listen anymore.

  4. Perhaps, but they've had a very active program to reduce rainwater/sump pump inflows for a number of years. But you are correct that controlling these peak flows will require spending more money - surge tanks, lines or removing storm water inflow at the source.

  5. All sewage goes to the Carmel treatment plant on the White River at 96th St. Rainfall should not affect sewage flows, but somehow it does - and the increased rate is more than the plant can handle a few times each year. One big source is typically homeowners who have their sump pumps connect into the sanitary sewer line rather than to the storm sewer line or yard. So we (Carmel and Clay Twp) need someway to hold the excess flow for a few days until the plant can process this material. Carmel wants the surge tank located at the treatment plant but than means an expensive underground line has to be installed through residential areas while CTRWD wants the surge tank located further 'upstream' from the treatment plant which costs less. Either solution works from an environmental control perspective. The less expensive solution means some people would likely have an unsightly tank near them. Carmel wants the more expensive solution - surprise!