Business, Economy and Consumer Affairs

Indiana’s business community is waiting to see how federal tax reform plans, set for release next week, might impact their companies and workers.

At a roundtable in Indianapolis on Thursday, business leaders said they want to communicate to their workers and the public that lowering America’s corporate tax rate will be good for more than just executive paychecks.

Indiana manufacturers hope the 2018 legislative session will hone in on workforce and education reforms to help fill jobs.

The state’s top business sector wants lawmakers to realign $1 billion in existing workforce spending and create incentives to attract new workers.

Federal officials have closed a one-time extension for companies that needed more temporary visa workers – landscapers and other non-farm laborers.

Indiana brings in hundreds of these workers a year and makes up about one percent of the program nationwide.

Typically, nearly half of the nation’s H-2B workers are landscapers, and that proportion is even higher in Indiana.

For fiscal year 2017, more than 70 percent of the state’s 1,550 H-2B visa workers were brought on in landscaping jobs.

Indiana-based American Senior Communities is suing its former executives over claims they embezzled millions from the nursing home company in a years-long kickback scheme.

The civil suit follows a major federal money laundering and fraud indictment last fall.

Former American Senior Communities CEO James Burkhart and his COO Daniel Benson were indicted in October 2016 on charges of money laundering and fraud.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jstephenconn/3051019997
J. Stephen Conn

Crawfordsville Mayor Todd Barton has returned from the state’s economic development trip to Japan, where he visited with executives of two long-time Montgomery County employers.

Barton says city officials have begun trying to get other prospective Japanese investors with whom the mayor had contact to travel to Indiana.

Lake County and East Chicago could have new affordable housing by 2020 as part of a state tax credit program called Moving Forward.

It’s how officials plan to fulfill their promise to help East Chicago residents displaced by lead contamination.

Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority executive director Jake Sipe says Moving Forward tries to rethink affordable housing as about more than just a number of units.

Indiana’s unemployment rate last month took its largest single-month jump in more than eight years.

Four months ago, Indiana’s unemployment rate had its biggest one-month improvement in more than 20 years. That trend is now going the other direction in August, as the state suffered its largest single-month increase in the unemployment rate since March of 2009.

courtesy Purdue University

Purdue is set to receive almost $20 million from the National Science Foundation to run a research center studying what its leaders are calling “bridge fuels” – in other words, fuel made from gas that's trapped in underground rock. It's extracted through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The researchers say it’ll be needed to satisfy the country’s demand for oil until renewable resources like wind and solar become dominant in the future.

But there was no mention of the “f-word” – fracking -- during a public celebration of the grant or in any of the promotional materials concerning it.

Charlotte Tuggle / WBAA

The city of West Lafayette has canceled its plan to block off State Street and Northwestern Avenue after blowback from local businesses.

After the announcement of the closure, dozens of State Street business owners signed a petition to stop the closures that would’ve taken place on Purdue’s homecoming game day.

The owners, including John von Erdmannsdorff of Von’s Shops, say it would’ve made customers avoid the area.

He says it would be plausible for a special outdoor event like a festival, but not for Purdue’s homecoming football game.

UPDATE: Indianapolis officials have since announced their plans to formally bid for the Amazon project. Read the story here

State officials won’t say if Indianapolis will join the race to house Amazon’s next headquarters. And despite the Hoosier capital’s push to become a tech hub, analysts say the it may face an uphill battle if it opts to bid on the massive project.

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