Articles

FUNNY BUSINESS: ‘Restart Your Engines’-we have refrigerator magnets

I’m not sensing a lot of enthusiasm for the state’s new tourism slogan, “Restart Your Engines.” Wait. What am I saying? What I sense is some outright hostility because the state paid $85,000 for this clunker, then was so tone deaf as to unveil it right after the income tax deadline, setting off a wave of “Your tax dollars at work” jokes in newspapers, blogs and coffee shops. So here we are in May, at the start of another tourist…

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Battle of the brands: Planners go back to drawing board after city slogan nixed

They thought they had a winner with The New Midwest. They even had the logo-a stylized “I”-all figured out. And a color palette. But then they hit a bump in the road. When Mark Miles became CEO of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership in January, he joined the big group and said the slogan was a dud. At the least, he said, participants should run it by focus groups. They only had to run it by two before they realized…

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Special events pay off: Growth seen in career opportunities, event numbers

Special events aren’t just fun and games-they’re big business, generating careers and economic activity that are anything but frivolous. Special event spending in Indianapolis is nearly $3 billion a year, according to Bob Shultz, public relations director for the Indiana Convention & Visitors Association. Annual spending for special events worldwide is $500 billion, according to research conducted by the Chicago-based International Special Events Society. In Money Magazine’s annual “Best Jobs in America” survey, meeting and convention planners were ranked in…

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EYE ON THE PIE: Mysteries abound in Indiana

There is so much I do not understand about Indiana. After living here for 35 years, after visiting every county and traveling almost every mile of state highway, after making friends with thousands of Hoosiers, I am in the dark on so many issues. Here are three examples: Example 1: What do Mitch Daniels, Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, and Kathleen Blanco of Louisiana have in common? They are all governors who have massive approval deficits. According to Survey USA (and…

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Tourism’s new buzz: Product development: Officials want to build on Indiana’s unique assets

Billboards in southern Indiana used to tug spelunkers in four different directions. Come to Marengo Caves. Spend an afternoon at Bluespring Caverns. Visit Wyandotte Caves. Don a headlamp at Squire Boone Caverns. Two years ago, however, operators at the four attractions decided it might be a better use of cash to market the area as a single attraction. They pooled their advertising budgets and printed a brochure that listed all four destinations. They also created a passport that visitors could…

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City gives cultural trail green light: Long-anticipated project could cost $35M to $42M

The long-discussed trail will loop through downtown and cost $35 million to $42 million. All the money will come from federal transportation dollars and private contributions. “The trail has been officially approved,” said Brian Payne, president of the Central Indiana Community Foundation, the project’s lead managing partner. “It’s definitely a project that’s going to happen now.” Tourism officials greeted the news with enthusiasm. It’s a “huge win for White River State Park as well as the city,” said Bob Whitt,…

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Indiana Avenue looks for revival: Cultural plan: stresses retail, residential growth, and a possible extension

Indiana Avenue looks for revival Cultural plan stresses retail, residential growth, and a possible extension Indiana Avenue’s glory days as a haven for black-owned businesses and vibrant nightclubs exists only in the history books. But a plan to revitalize the city’s newest cultural district could restore some of the luster. City leaders completed the blueprint for redevelopment early this year and now are in the early stages of executing a plan that organizers say could take 20 years to play…

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TAWN PARENT Commentary: Bill offers new hope for Main Street

Recycling isn’t just good for the environment. It’s good for buildings, and ultimately for economic development. When the Disciples of Christ moved its international headquarters downtown from Irvington in 1995, it left behind a 121,000-square-foot structure built in 1910 that could easily have become a vacant eyesore in the east-side neighborhood. Instead, local developer Mansur Real Estate Services Inc. helped give it new life as Mission Apartments for seniors. That $6.5 million project might not have happened without the help…

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Emerging India: Opportunity or threat?: Indiana businesses brace for growing global competition

Opportunity or threat? Indiana businesses brace for growing global competition Next month, President Bush will make his first official visit to India. To most of the American media, it’ll be just one more round of global terrorism discussions with a distant foreign nation, perhaps worthy of a brief. The Indian press knows better. Six weeks ahead of Bush’s trip, banner headlines about it ran in every newspaper. Al Hubbard knows better, too. Friends with Bush since their days at Harvard…

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City’s cultural districts take artful approach: Five areas use $250,000 in grants on original public art projects

Two wall-size murals now welcome people to Massachusetts Avenue. An abstract sculpture that looks like an Alexander Calder tribute sits on a bridge in the Canal District. A towering blue and green obelisk marks the north end of Broad Ripple on College Avenue. The works aren’t part of an elaborate conspiracy by a renegade public artist. They’re the result of two years of careful planning by the city’s Cultural Development Commission. In 2003, the commission designated five areas of the…

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Omni Severin seeks lot for expansion: Downtown parking garage, grand ballroom on drawing board

The Omni Severin Hotel has confirmed it’s negotiating to buy the surface parking lot immediately east of the hotel, which it wants to redevelop into a parking garage capped by a 12,000-square-foot ballroom. Tourism officials love the idea, but some parking lot managers say it’s unnecessary. “We’re buying it for a reason,” said Chris Ratay, the hotel’s area director of sales and marketing. “This would allow us to have our own parking facility.” Today, the hotel’s valets run across the…

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EYE ON THE PIE: Making money by neutering history

I drove north last week from the Caesar’s gambling facility in Harrison County. Instead of taking the usual roads, I twisted up the cliffside overlooking the Ohio River via Doolittle Road. Then I went through New Middleton to Corydon before I joined the state highway system. It was a delightful drive that I never would have known about from anything on the state’s tourism Web site. Yes, I can hear the usual lament: “Wait, we’re working on improving our materials….

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What’s up his sleeve?: New park director plans ice skating, street performers

He can do card tricks with the verve of a Brooklyn street hustler. He knows how to levitate. And for his biggest trick yet, he wants to transform White River State Park. It’s no short con. It doesn’t involve sleight of hand. Meet Bob from these increased attractions.” In addition to the Eiteljorg, the Indianapolis Zoo, White River Gardens, Indiana State Museum, Victory Field and NCAA Hall of Champions call the park home. At least one community activist, and one…

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Indy’s Wright of passage?: Conrad’s renowned chef could beef up city’s culinary reputation

“It gives [Indianapolis] a big-league chef,” said John Mariani, food and travel correspondent for Esquire magazine, when asked about Wright’s arrival. “It’s about time a city like Indianapolis has a restaurant of this caliber.” Wright left the kitchen at the Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. He and his wife, Delia, an executive with a restaurantproducts distributor, chose Indianapolis partly because she has business contacts here. Jonathan is accustomed to pleasing an eclectic range of diners. He…

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Boom, baby: Tourism industry preps for growth: Convention center, stadium may add thousands of jobs

The dirt is still fresh from the Colts’ stadium ground breaking, but local hospitality professionals already are planning for the growth it will spur in their industry. Experts project as many as 25,000 additional jobs by 2010, when both the stadium and a 275,000-square-foot expansion of the Indiana Convention Center are scheduled to be complete. That tally counts jobs created in those facilities as well as in hotels, restaurants and other attractions. Officials expect 4,200 jobs to be added in…

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GERALD BEPKO Commentary: This is no time to fear traveling

Last month my wife, Jean, and I had the pleasure of joining another Indiana University Alumni Travelers voyage superbly planned by Alumni Travel Director Joan Curts and Gohagen Travel. In company with an agreeable and stimulating group of IU and Boston University alumni, we visited the Cotswolds in England, near where we had lived 27 years earlier when on sabbatical leave at Oxford. Tourism seems alive and well in the United Kingdom, but there is concern that current tourist volume…

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GERALD BEPKO Commentary: FFA is important to our future

What major, national, student-oriented not-for-profit organization with deep roots in Kansas City moved its headquarters to Indianapolis in the last decade and now has made commitments to bring a huge number of visitors to Indianapolis each year into the future? If you think the answer is the NCAA, you would be half right. The complete answer is that there are two such organizations: the NCAA and FFA. Both the NCAA and FFA brought economic benefits along with their headquarters. Through…

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Earlier start dates draw criticism: Schools like to get a jump on the schedule, but tourist sites say business is suffering; legislators take notice

A schoolyard brawl is beginning to brew over whether districts are cutting summers short and sending students back to class too soon. For most school districts, the era of starting school after Labor Day went the way of the typewriter in the 1980s. But some Indiana lawmakers and tourism advocates are beginning to clamor for a state academic calendar that would turn the clock back on early start dates. That’s because many school districts in Indiana resumed classes in mid-August….

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IMS mulls hotel: Convention-level facility connected to track would diversify Speedway’s revenue stream

Sources close to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway say management is working on plans for a convention-level hotel on a 16-acre lot just south of the track’s 16th Street entrance. Under consideration is a multilevel hotel connected to the track via a skywalk and a new set of track-side suites and condos near turn two where the Brickyard Crossing Inn sits. The inn would be torn down to make room for the suites and condos, which will better complement the new…

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GuyFest: Motorcycles, brewers, home theaters … New event targets CEOs to steelworkers

It’s not a new medical procedure, but a three-day event Compton calls “a magical place-home to both the steelworker and the CEO.” Testostorama Men’s Expo, planned for Nov. 11-13 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, is being hyped to men of all ages and backgrounds “as payback for all those years she dragged you to the Flower and Patio show.” “We cooked up this event and put a little edge to it,” Compton said. Testostorama organizers expect more than 200 exhibitors-from…

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