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City to consider Steak n Shake incentives

July 15, 2008
The Metropolitan Development Commission is scheduled tomorrow to consider a tax abatement worth more than $100,000 for The Steak n Shake Co. The incentives would be doled out in exchange for the Indianapolis company's retaining 160 jobs and a $2.5-million investment in new equipment.

IBJ first reported in April on local government plans to throw Steak n Shake a life raft of incentives that also include a $200,000 state training grant to help the struggling chain keep its headquarters in Indianapolis.

The incentives, though modest, are unusual given that the company does not plan to expand or add employees. Its new equipment involves financial systems and store point-of-sale technology.

Steak n Shake agreed to the deal earlier this year after months of negotiation, but the incentive offerings still must win final government approval.

"This is an opportunity to help them succeed," Nick Weber, the city's economic development director and a deputy mayor, told IBJ in April. "They're an Indiana-headquartered company with superior wages."

Weber would not say whether Steak n Shake threatened to move elsewhere, but said headquarters deals often pit local officials against counterparts in other cities who are intent on stealing good companies and good jobs.

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