Articles

Eco suit spawns flurry of litigation: Class actions hit Honeywell in wake of thermostat fight

Industrial powerhouse Honeywell International Inc. suddenly finds itself under siege by an army of aggressive class-action attorneys-all because it decided to mess with a couple of determined entrepreneurs from Lebanon. Attorneys from around the nation in recent months have filed six class action lawsuits in state courts charging New Jersey-based Honeywell used deception to obtain the trademark for its ubiquitous round thermostat, then used its lock on the round-thermostat market to overcharge customers. T h e l eg a l…

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Herff Jones considers global acquisition: Deal to buy George F. Cram Co. is in the works

Sources close to Indianapolis-based George F. Cram Co. said the 139-year-old maker of globes and maps is being sold to Herff Jones Inc., another local company with deep roots. Cram officials did not return phone calls seeking comment. But sources said Cram officials have indicated the sale is done. Officials for Herff Jones-an employee-owned maker of school-related items including caps and gowns, yearbooks and high school diplomas-said the deal is not yet imminent. “We’re in conversations, but we’re not ready…

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Special Report: MURKY MISSION: Vague directive dilutes 21st Century Fund’s high-tech impact

When directors of Indiana’s 21st Century Research and Technology Fund convened in May 2003, they’d already doled out $70 million in state grants over three years to fund h i g h – t e c h innovation a n d w e r e preparing to u n l e a s h another $60 million. But you wouldn’t know it after reading minutes from that meeting. They show a rollicking debate broke out over the 21st Century’s Fund’s…

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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: GDP figures demonstrate Fed’s rate hikes hit mark

Here’s something to try the next time you find yourself mingling with your friends at a party. Strike up a conversation about GDP. You know, GDP. Gross Domestic Product? It’s the total output of everything we produce in the economy. Oh, well, never mind. But even if it’s generally true that talk of GDP’s ups and downs elicits blank stares, some of us devour the news. That’s because the speed-up and slowdown of overall economic growth can affect the policies…

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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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Employers target obesity through wellness programs: Overweight workers contribute to higher health costs

Companies enjoy seeing an increase in their bottom line as a reflection of positive growth. They don’t, however, like to see growth in employee “bottoms,” as evidenced by a national obesity epidemic that is becoming a public health crisis and is cutting into corporate profits through increased health care costs. A study by the not-for-profit, nonpartisan Trust for America’s Health reported that nearly 119 million American adults-65 percent-are overweight or obese. The group warns that obesity may soon overtake tobacco…

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VIEWPOINT: Lack of basic skills hurts competitiveness

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? There is a businesseducation slant to the age-old argument. The business community contends that the state’s colleges and universities are not producing enough graduates to meet their needs. Highereducation advocates, on the other hand, say the qualified graduates are in place, but a lack of jobs within Indiana sends them packing to other states. We’ll leave that argument for another day. There is another major workplacepreparedness issue, however, that is rightfully drawing…

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Area deals reach new pinnacle: Anthem’s $22.7 billion purchase of Wellpoint heads busy year for acquisitions

In 2004, Indianapolis had plenty of both, crushing all previous local merger-andacquisition records. IBJ tracks business deals larger than $5 million involving area companies in which financial terms are available. Last year, there were 56 of them, worth a grand total of $31 billion. Anthem Inc.’s massive $22.7 billion acquisition of Wellpoint Health Networks Inc. led the pack. Before 2004, $17 billion was the most M&A activity Indianapolis had ever seen in a single year. All by itself, Anthem’s deal…

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Partners bet on Capitol block: Shiel Sexton teams up with Gregory & Appel to redevelop old factory

An Indianapolis contracting company is deepening its near-north-side roots-and exploring another avenue of the real estate business-with a multimillion-dollar plan to renovate and rent out an 85-year-old building just blocks from its Capitol Avenue headquarters. Shiel Sexton Co. Inc. has agreed to spend more than $5 million on the 60,000-square-foot brick building at 1402 N. Capitol Ave., restoring the property to its former glory and transforming it from industrial to office use. The company also is seeking tenants for a…

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VIEWPOINT: We stand on the shoulders of black business giants

In a recent conversation with a family member regarding the lack of African-American businesses in the high technology, life sciences and larger manufacturing arenas, I began to wonder, “What are the barriers that prevent African-Americans from entering business? Are conditions worse now than in the past when we seemed to have greater representation in these areas?” Some will say it is the lack of access to capital. Some will point to the continued aura of racism and prejudice, while still…

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VIEWPOINT: We’re trying to save the wrong brains

I always wonder what people are talking about when they lament Indiana’s “brain drain.” Statistics usually follow, detailing the college graduates taking jobs in other states. It is perhaps a contrarian’s viewpoint, but we should, in fact, encourage these young people to go seek their fortunes. The fact that they are leaving is a symptom, not the problem. Our problem is there are not enough Hoosiers who can create the jobs that could employ our young graduates. We do have…

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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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EYE ON THE PIE: State’s economy holds surprises

Last week in this space, legislators were challenged to learn something about our state. This week, we will provide some data so our busy representatives do not have to do the work themselves. All our data are derived from the excellent States-in-Profile section of STATS Indiana, maintained by the Indiana Business Research Center at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, a service supported by the Indiana Department of Commerce. The Indiana economy is the 15th-largest in the nation. Our gross…

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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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Dems hope for some strategic input: Indiana Economic Development Council completes state plan, but it could get lost in switch

For months, Jackie Nytes has been developing a strategy for statewide economic development. It comes off the presses this week. But the inauguration of Mitch Daniels leaves her wondering whether anyone will ever read it-let alone act on its recommendations. Nytes, a Democratic member of the City-County Council, serves as president of the Indiana Economic Development Council Inc. Daniels, the Republican governor-elect, is folding all state economic development efforts into the Indiana Economic Development Corp. The corporation, a public-private partnership,…

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Replicating race cars of the past: Westfield firm plans to sell Ford GT40 reproductions

An upstart Westfield company’s reproduction of the 1966 Ford GT40 Mk1 race car turns heads wherever it goes. Whether it’s on the highway or in a showroom, people can’t help but gaze at the sleek, retro roadster built to emulate the original that dominated the 24 Hours of Le Mans races nearly 40 years ago. It dethroned Italian automaker Ferrari at the 1966 event, finishing first, second and third, and went on to win the race four consecutive times. Executives…

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Federal grants are flying to Indiana airports: Record money a boon for capital improvements

Indiana airports landed record federal grants of $61.9 million in fiscal 2004 for everything from building taxiways to extending runways to transmitting weather data to pilots. The $17 million, or 38 percent, increase from 2003 could bode well for economic development in cities with growing airports, such as Columbus. “About 65 percent of our traffic here is business during the week. The more accessible we become, it’s bound to have an impact,” said Rod Blasdel, manager of Columbus Municipal Airport….

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