Articles

EYE ON THE PIE: Do Indiana papers make the grade?

I’m always trying to learn more about Indiana. I suspect investors within and outside our state are also interested in what is happening in our many cities and towns. Yet no single newspaper does a good job of covering the news of the state. Nor can one hope to read all 47 daily newspapers published in Indiana. Then, along comes the Internet and the posting by local newspapers of their records of Hoosier activity. Here, at last, is our chance…

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INDOT chief’s changes altered contract decision: Insider alleges Nicol favored Kernan contributor

Former Indiana Department of Transportation Commissioner J. Bryan Nicol changed official recommendations of INDOT’s design division, according to an INDOT source, a move that sent millions of dollars of work to major contributors to former Gov. Joe Kernan’s campaign. Two days after last fall’s election, INDOT consultant services manager Jeffrey Clanton said he was ordered by then-commissioner Nicol to make a number of changes to a July 29, 2004, selection list. On seven of the 24 different projects on the…

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BEHIND THE NEWS: Setbacks smudge image of Obsidian CEO Durham Stock is down Snapping up firms

Tim Durham tells reporters he wants to be the richest man alive. His office sits atop the Bank One Tower, the state’s tallest building. For fun, he adds to his collection of four dozen collector cars. But behind the glitz, Durham is trying to untangle what’s become a real mess at Obsidian Enterprises Inc., the publicly traded manufacturing and transportation firm he controls and leads. In a regulatory filing last week, Obsidian’s independent accounting firm, Minnesota-based McGladrey & Pullen, expressed…

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Companies abuse certification to nab contracts: Critics wonder if they truly are ‘disadvantaged’

Indiana companies are playing the system to get millions of dollars in federal highway funds by posing as and receiving state certification as economically disadvantaged, minority or women-owned businesses. Under federal law, a prime contractor bidding on a federally funded project has to subcontract a certain percentage to businesses that are certified by the state as disadvantaged. The idea is to ensure that these companies have an equal opportunity to become successful. Files at the State Department of Administration show…

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EYE ON THE PIE Morton Marcus: Time for a tax strategy to boost retail

It is time to recognize the role of retail trade in economic development. Too often, we follow the notion that a community grows only because it exports. That which we mine, grow, harvest or manufacture is an acknowledged part of the economic base. It brings in dollars from outside. In some communities, we recognize tourism, medical and other specialized services as part of that export base. Just a few places see retail trade as a means of economic development. Yes,…

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Carmel’s Sunrise Café may be nearing sunset: Developer would raze café to make way for retail, office

A longtime favorite spot to conduct business over breakfast on the far-north side will close if plans to sell the building that houses Sunrise Café come to fruition. Locally based Meridian Asset Development has the café building and a surrounding 2-1/2-acre lot at 11450 N. Meridian St. under contract. The seller is an Omaha, Neb.-based trust that owns it and a nearby office building. If the sale closes as expected in the coming weeks, Meridian Asset plans to raze the…

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INDOT spends millions with little oversight: Critics charge state’s failure leads to poor work

More than half of the $8 billion spent by the Indiana Department of Transportation on construction over the last decade went to only 10 construction companies. The same is true of the hundreds of millions spent on consulting. Ten design and engineering firms got 56 percent of all of the money contracted by INDOT-more than $155 million over the last 12 years. The large sums of money concentrated in a relatively small number of recipients has raised alarms for some…

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IDEM levies fewer fines: Air pollution violators account for half of state’s penalties

Four of the 10 largest environmental penalties levied against Indiana companies in 2004 involved air pollution violations, an area of regulation likely to come under renewed focus after the first-ever “fine particulate” health warning was issued last week for Marion and five other counties. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management, which sounded the alarm, assessed $1.2 million in air pollution penalties last year-almost half of the $2.4 million in 1999, according to state records. The decrease in air penalty amounts…

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ATA may fly solo again, exec says: Restructuring officer sees opportunities ahead

The retired Southwest Airlines executive helping pilot ATA Holdings Inc. out of bankruptcy said he’s confident the Indianapolis carrier could again fly solo, despite a virtual pullout from its hometown and what to some is a precarious reliance on code sharing with competitor Southwest. John Denison, former chief financial officer and executive vice president at Dallas-based Southwest, said ATA’s long-term strategy could include boosting frequency of flights from ATA’s Chicago Midway Airport hub to key markets such as New York…

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EYE ON THE PIE: Airline and transit service linked

“So, what do you think about our new governor?” State Rep. Roberta Righteous asked as we met for breakfast. “No comment,” I said, studying the menu. “Until we have his financial program on the table and a chance to think about it, any judgments are premature.” “But he’s already set a tone,” the longterm representative replied. “Other than an injudicious inaugural reference to barn-building in an overwhelmingly urban state, there’s nothing to commend or condemn. The administrative changes he has…

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Outlook is good for entrepreneurs:

Could 2005 be the tipping point for Indiana to become the center for entrepreneurship in the world? That is a pretty bold statement, considering Indiana’s poor track record. As executive director for Entrepreneur’s Alliance of Indiana, I talk with many entrepreneurs that are excited about the direction Indiana is headed. We have in place a strong educational component with several universities ded icated to research and development and the incubation of new ideas. Geographically we have always had an advantage,…

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TOM HARTON Commentary: City’s improvement doesn’t sink in

Dr. Pierre Tran, a former neuroscience researcher at Eli Lilly and Co., was lured from Indianapolis to a suburb of San Francisco recently by a small biotech firm and its ability to develop new drugs more quickly than pharmaceutical giants like Lilly. The region’s diversity and “food culture” also played a role, Tran told the San Francisco Business Times in a story about where the Bay Area finds all the brainpower it needs to fuel its tech culture. Tran went…

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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: Slow, steady job growth certainly beats alternative

It’s good to have job growth in the U.S. economy once again, even if the monthly gains in employment reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics occasionally fall short of some analysts’ expectations. After a long spell of minuscule job growth in the wake of a painful recession, we’ve grown used to disappointing announcements from the federal statistical agency responsible for tracking the labor market. But the recent report on the employment situation in December caps a year-long streak of…

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Trucking firm to roll out own software product: Hoosier Tradewinds targets driver shortage

Carmel trucking line Hoosier Tradewinds Inc. plans to deliver an unusual product-its own software company. Tradewinds Technologies will offer an intranet portal product trucking firms can use to track everything from delivery status to driver revenue. The company will break ground by the end of next month on an 8,000-squarefoot facility at U.S. 31 and 236th Street. It also will house new corporate offices for Hoosier Tradewinds. The TIRES portal, short for Tradewinds Information Resource, will be marketed partly as…

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GERALD BEPKO Commentary: State should help insurance industry grow

GERALD BEPKO Commentary State should help insurance industry grow Everyone seems to agree that state governments must facilitate job growth and wealth creation. As pioneers in publicprivate partnerships, Indiana’s leaders have envisioned a future for Indiana that includes many partnership economi c – d eve l o p m e n t strategies. One reflection of this vision is the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership-led focus on key sectors, such as advanced manufacturing, logistics and life sciences. The priority associated with…

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Services of local plastics recycler sought after: Butler-MacDonald builds foundation for growth

The company that recycles high-resin plastic like the kind found in computers was attractive to other cities, but the two decades it spent developing a skilled work force and market here made cutting its roots difficult. Instead of moving across state lines, Butler-MacDonald last month moved across Park 100. Though the 80,000-square-foot facility is only 1,000 square feet larger than its former home, the new configuration allowed for nearly $1 million worth of upgrades in machinery and infrastructure. “We were…

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Seeking to sway politicians: Lobbyists savor the challenge of playing the game, which requires chess-like strategizing

When Maureen Ferguson was a lobbyist for the Indiana Petroleum Council, she went skiing for the first time, in Colorado. As her ski instructor was taking her up the mountain, he asked her what she did for a living. When she told him, he “went off” on how the oil industry was corrupt and running the government, and she recalled that she found herself fearing for her life. Now when someone asks Ferguson what she does, sometimes she tells them,…

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Access at takeoff: Expert helps find accommodating design for terminal

Your spouse attempts to drop you off at the curb and unload your wheelchair as an airport cop who seems to mistake you for a terrorist barks an order to drive away immediately. Once inside, you get separated from your travel companions because you had to take an out-of-the-way wheelchair ramp. And heaven help you if the checkpoint screener is having a bad day. Gregory S. Fehribach has to imagine such scenarios-not that the life-long wheelchair user hasn’t already endured…

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INVESTING: Dow constructed his averages to do technical analysis

As a technical analyst I am fascinated by history. I was a history major in college, so my interest here predates my addiction to financial markets. The predictive ability of technical analysis depends on people acting in ways similar to what they did in the past. Which means technicians spend a lot of time studying the past. Long before fundamental analysis became the standard by which investors attempt to figure out future prices, technical analysis was being used to give…

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Readers say transportation should top city’s agenda: Growing traffic delays, struggling IndyGo system, possible rapid transit system among issues facing planners

The average Indianapolis motorist sits in traffic delays more than nine times longer than he or she did 20 years ago: 37 hours a year vs. just four hours in 1982, according to a recent study by the Texas Transportation Institute. Growing delays have not only brought inconvenience and lost productivity, but also have earned the metro area “nonattainment” with federal air-quality standards. That raises the specter of expensive vehicle-emissions testing. IBJ Daily readers ranked solving congestion/public transportation issues as…

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