Business, Economy and Consumer Affairs

Indiana’s battle to collect online sales tax from businesses that don’t have a physical presence in the state will more likely play out in Congress than in the courts, says one economist.

Indiana does collect sales tax from companies such as Amazon, which has seven distribution centers across five counties.

But the state also wants to tax online retailers including Wayfair and Overstock, which don’t – but still earn more than $100,000 a year from Hoosiers.

Brian Herzog / https://www.flickr.com/photos/herzogbr/

Hurricane Harvey has shut down oil refineries at the Gulf of Mexico that account for 20-percent of the nation’s total gasoline supply -- and that's forcing Indiana drivers to pay more at the pump.

Hoosiers get a lot of their gasoline from Northwest Indiana’s Whiting Refinery and from facilities in Illinois, but a portion also comes from the Gulf Coast.

Purdue University agricultural economist Wally Tyner says rainfall during Hurricane Harvey lasted much longer than expected, which has flooded refineries and created a shortage.

New regulations for how big farms handle raw produce won’t affect the hundreds of vendors that sell at Indiana farmers markets.

But small-scale growers still have plenty of rules to follow.

In a trailer at the Lafayette Farmers Market, Graham Rider digs through a freezer stuffed with plastic packages of frozen meat. His family owns Thistle Byre Farm in Burnettsville.

“Here’s our thermometer,” Rider says, pulling it out from beneath totes of ground beef and lamb. “Oh, good. It’s below 20.”

Indianapolis-based shopping mall developer Simon Property Group is suing Starbucks over the coffee chain’s plans to close Teavana stores in malls nationwide.

The lawsuit argues Starbucks doesn’t have grounds to break its leases on 78 Teavana stores at Simon-owned malls, including five stores in Indiana.

Four years after buying the mostly mall-based tea brand, Starbucks said in July it would close down its 379 Teavana stores.

Most of the stores in Simon malls have years left on their leases, according to the lawsuit filed Aug. 21 in Marion County Superior Court.

A trucking company moving from Illinois to Indiana is the latest of dozens of companies that have made that switch in recent years.

It’s a boon to struggling northwest Indiana economies that Indiana officials say is thanks to their state’s business-friendly tax and regulatory structure.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation says at least 55 companies have moved some or all of their business from Illinois to Indiana in the past two years. They say that will create more than 5,500 jobs and $610 million in investment.

 

The latest federal employment numbers show jobs growing more quickly in urban areas than rural ones across the country – despite low unemployment across all regions.

Seventy percent of job growth from 2016 to 2017 was in places with more than a million residents, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Meanwhile, rural places still struggled to create new jobs and maintain their workforces.

In Indiana, data shows 29 counties gaining jobs more slowly than the national rate in the past year, and another 23 losing jobs overall.

More than two-thirds of people who are blind or visually impaired are unemployed. Technology to help them enter the workforce is rapidly developing and recent advances could help level the playing field for blind job seekers in Indiana.

Jim Durst has been the superintendent of the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired for 26 years. He says students want to work when they leave – and they can do the job.

Indiana’s unemployment rate rose last month for the first time in five months even as the state’s private sector added jobs.

The Indiana unemployment rate went up 0.1 percent rising to 3.1 percent in July. That’s the first increase since February. But it still keeps the unemployment rate well below the national average and lower than all neighboring states.

Purdue University will help train thousands of new Infosys employees in Indiana and nationwide.

The five-year agreement comes as the technology and consulting company readies a new hub in Indianapolis.

For years, Infosys hired mainly visa workers from overseas. The company said in May it’s shifting course, hiring 10,000 American employees – including 2,000 in Indiana.

President Donald Trump disbanded two of his economic advisory councils, after many members resigned in protest of his response to racist violence.

Trump tweeted Wednesday he was “ending” his Manufacturing Council and Strategic & Policy Forum, all made up of CEOs and other industry and workforce leaders.

Among those who resigned from the manufacturing group before that tweet were national AFL-CIO union president Richard Trumka and his chief of staff.

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