Business, Economy and Consumer Affairs

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.

Indiana economic development officials are in Japan this week to bolster relationships with the Hoosier State’s top source of foreign investment.

The Asian nation backs more business in Indiana than in any other state – especially in the automotive sector, at Honda, Toyota, Subaru and their suppliers.

And that investment isn’t just about jobs. Those big Japanese-owned factories are also huge energy consumers. That’s why Gov. Eric Holcomb’s Japan trip includes power company executives, such as Harold Gutzwiller of Hoosier Energy in Bloomington.

The $130-billion merger of chemical and material manufacturing giants Dow and DuPont is now official, nearly two years after it was first announced.

In the next 18 months, the newly created DowDuPont will split into three businesses – for material sciences, specialty products and agricultural chemicals.

The agriculture division stands to affect Indiana the most. Dow AgroSciences has 1,500 workers in Indianapolis, and more at seed and chemical dealerships statewide.

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.

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