Articles

TAWN PARENT Commentary: Big hankering for the Big Easy

Once you’ve lived in New Orleans, you never really leave. A part of you stays on. You don’t feel quite whole again except when you return. Then it’s like regaining an appendage you had learned to live without, but suddenly realize how much you have missed. Transfixed by events there over the past month, I have been missing that part of me I left behind in 1996 when I drove a U-Haul north after three years as a reporter and…

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Proposed natural gas pipeline bogged down at IURC: Project would give customers access to lower-priced gas, blunting impact of Katrina and hike in delivery fee

A pipeline that would give residential and industrial customers access to cheaper wholesale natural gas from the West and Canada won’t be built this winter, when it could have blunted prices whipped skyward by Hurricane Katrina. The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission is still reviewing Citizens Gas & Coke Utility’s request to construct a nearly 20-mile pipeline that would connect its Greene County gas storage facility with the Midwest Gas Transmission System line in Sullivan County. That line ties into a…

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Incubator under new ownership: Aim is to return center to its entrepreneurial mission

Any small-business incubator can offer tenants Internet service, fax machines and conference rooms. But what about the convenience of on-site oil changes or the stress relief of a pinball machine? For Scott Meyers, new owner of the revamped Indianapolis Enterprise Center, the extra incentives are just a small part of his overall plan to make the neareast-side facility more attractive to fledgling entrepreneurs. Meyers, 36, bought the former A&P grocery warehouse in May. He declined to disclose the purchase price…

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Pension fund opens coffers: $506M could be boon for venture capitalists

The Public Employees’ Retirement Fund, Indiana’s largest pension system, is preparing to unleash half a billion dollars into venture capital, real estate and other privateequity investments. And the fund’s managers aim to put the bulk of it to work inside state lines. Hoosier venture capitalists are salivating at the prospect. T h a t ‘s t h e equivalent of nearly seven BioCrossroads Indiana Future Funds. “If there are excellent opportunities to invest in Indiana, we ought to be looking…

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Law could generate earnings for Cummins: States face deadline in completing standards for connecting generators to grid

Cummins Inc. and other makers of electric generators stand to gain under a provision an Indiana lawmaker plugged into the federal energy bill signed this month. The amendment by 4th District Republican congressman Steve Buyer forces state utility commissions to adopt standards within two years that will pave the way for businesses that generate their own electricity to sell excess power to the electric grid. That’s good news for firms that generate their own power and for Cummins, which makes…

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Group wants energy czar: Coalition believes utilities slow to climb on efficiency bandwagon

Chris Maher’s crews at Thermo-Scan Inc. have been plenty busy inspecting for drafts and puny insulation in many of the 14,000 new homes built each year in the metro area. Even so, the principal at the Carmel firm can’t help wonder about the vast potential to make the hundreds of thousands of existing homes and businesses more energy efficient-if only homeowners had a little more incentive. Utility companies, he says, have relatively few dollars budgeted to coax customers to install…

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Ex-IPL officer fights utility: Claims wrongful termination, financial trickery

Not even a lineman at Indianapolis Power & Light Co. has more nerve than Dwane Ingalls. Floored that IPL’s CEO, Ann Murtlow, didn’t share his concerns that IPL was sending excessive cash to parent AES Corp. at the expense of electric-service reliability, the IPL vice president scheduled a meeting in mid-2003 at the Maryland home of AES CEO Paul Hanrahan. Hanrahan apparently didn’t see things Ingalls’ way. Within a year of the meeting, Murtlow terminated the 14-year AES employee. Now,…

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BULLS & BEARS: With real estate the rage, it’s time to swing to stocks

Stocks or real estate. Which one will “show you the money”? In my last column, I pointed out that-over two or three decades-an investment in stocks, with an average 10-percent return, should double in value every seven or so years. The big problem investors have is that the average 10 percent return is created by erratic and sporadic bursts and busts in stock prices. It’s nerve-racking. The bursts and busts really tax people’s emotions and drive some people away from…

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Watchdogs wishing for tough IURC: Consumer, biz groups hope Daniels picks commissioner who’ll say ‘no’ to utilities

Industrial and consumer interests say Gov. Mitch Daniels needs to fill a pending vacancy at the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission with a regulator “able to say no” to utility companies. The IURC has too often allowed utilities to pass on increased costs for fuel or purchased power, for example, through so-called tracking mechanisms rather than through traditional rate cases that take into consideration offsetting reductions in other costs, they complain. “It’s important to be able to say no to the…

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Med school takes hit: IU trims $5.2 million from budget, cuts 36 positions

The school tabled some construction plans and may have to curtail recruiting of “star” faculty in areas such as diabetes research, said Dr. Craig Brater, the school’s dean. On top of that, the school cut 36 positions and halted spending for several programs after it was hit by decreases in state funding and grants, and a rise in expenses. Brater said the medical school has been lucky “in large part” to receive the funding it needed over the years. He…

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HIGHER (cost of) EDUCATION: Students’ college burden continues to rise in Indiana

With state funding flat and operating expenses rising, Indiana’s public universities are turning to a familiar source to make up the difference-students. Tuition and mandatory fees at state institutions are set to climb an average of 5 percent next school year and higher in 2006-2007, if proposed rates stand. That’s a far cry from the double-digit increases most universities imposed just a few years ago, but observers say it’s worrisome nonetheless. “Tuition has been rising at twice the rate of…

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Broadband gets power boost in Indiana: Utilities begin offering Internet access through electrical lines in rural areas

Electric utilities serving the state’s rural areas are warming to the prospect of delivering high-speed Internet over household power lines, as several are in various stages of exploring the technology. Offering broadband over power lines to rural areas is becoming a new front in the competition between cable, telephone and, now, electric companies. Power providers in Boone and Monroe counties, and Cincinnati-based Cinergy Corp., are testing the equipment, although Cinergy is not offering the service to Indiana customers yet. More…

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As market correction plays out, good buys remain INVESTING Keenan Hauke:

It’s week five of the correction that began in early March. Major market indexes have declined anywhere from 3 percent to 8 percent, and the selling may not be over. Does it matter? Is this simply another minor setback on the march to new highs? It definitely matters. As I’ve said since January, the bull market that began in March 2003 has now changed so that you can’t depend on the broad rising tide to bail you out. Micro-cap-size companies…

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TOM HARTON Commentary: Riding the rails from first to worst

When my grandparents took the interurban from Rushville to Indianapolis to see the 1920 Indianapolis 500, they probably didn’t appreciate how lucky they were to live in a state that was a leader in public transportation. Indiana had one of the earliest and most extensive interurban systems in the country. The state’s electric railway network converged at the Indianapolis Traction Terminal, thought to be the largest interurban station in the world. The massive building on West Market Street served 462…

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Little jets get the test in Indiana: New aircraft could help small airports shave costs

A top Indiana economist will study whether an emerging class of aircraft known as “very light jets” could fuel an economic boom, especially in the state’s smaller, more isolated communities. Morton J. Marcus, director emeritus of the Indiana Business Research Center at Indiana University, will gauge the potential impact of VLJs in six communities, including Mount Comfort Airport in Hancock County. Several aircraft makers next year plan to launch the diminutive jets, which can whisk up to six people as…

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ProLiance verdict to cost Citizens: Utility to pay at least $1.5M in fraud case

Citizens Gas & Coke is one of two Indiana utilities burned by a $33.5 million jury verdict, won under a federal racketeering law, against Indianapolis-based Pro-Liance Energy, an unregulated subsidiary of Citizens. The city-owned Citizens has set aside $1.5 million as part of the hit it expects to take for its investment in ProLiance, which procures and manages more than 475 billion cubic feet of natural gas for 1,200 utility and industrial customers in North America. Meanwhile, Evansville-based gas and…

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Auction company packing up Winona: Closed hospital has potential buyer, attorney tells court Getting organized

“That’s to keep the spirits away, make ’em happy,” Brian Hayes explained as he turned past the blaring radio. Auctioneers and the occasional unexplained phenomenon have taken over Winona, as the closed hospital nears an April auction date for its remaining equipment. Hayes, of San Francisco-based Rabin Worldwide Inc., has piled up seven-day workweeks since early February cataloging and organizing the defunct hospital’s assets. All that work may go for naught, however, if the auction proposal dies in bankruptcy court…

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Eminent domain facing legal challenges: Supreme Court, Indiana legislature consider changes to economic development tool some say is unfairly used

The tool of eminent domain, increasingly used for redevelopment projects in Indiana cities and towns, could change significantly depending on the outcome of a U.S. Supreme Court case and a bill before the Indiana General Assembly. In Indianapolis, city officials are closely watching the cases and legislation. In recent years, construction of WellPoint Inc.’s operations center, redevelopment of the Link-Savoy and Blacherne apartment buildings, and Fall Creek Place have all involved eminent domain. Officials have also indicated they may use…

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INVESTING: Market opportunities narrow, but still exist for investors

One pleasant thing about the stock market is that dominant trends do not change quickly. A strong, healthy bull market does not turn into a nasty, hungry bear overnight. There is a process and an evolution that a full market cycle goes through, and the transition phases of these cycles typically last three to nine months. Investors who become aware that they are in the early to middle stage of one of these transition periods will have ample time to…

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BULLS & BEARS: How managing investments works from the top down

Another variation of the asset allocation and diversification theme that is common on Wall Street is what’s called a “topdown” investment strategy to manage a portfolio. Investors who practice this sort of money management are generally more concerned with the economic outlook and its effect on various “market sectors” than the business fundamentals of a particular company. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index is the most commonly used measuring stick for the investment performance of many mutual funds and money…

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