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Jury Selection Started for 2009 Little Nashville Opry House Arson

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Jury selection started today in the trial of the former manager of the Little Nashville Opry House, which burned down in 2009.

James Bowyer has been charged with arson in the case. He was the business and personal partner of Esther Hamilton who, with her late husband, opened the facility in 1974.

Brown County Prosecutor James Oliver and Defense Attorney John Boren were in court today in Nashville to choose the jury.

The nationally-known country music venue burned down on September 19 of 2009. The blaze did more than $3 million in damage to the facility. The state fire marshal was quickly brought into the investigation of the fire’s cause.

Shortly thereafter, it was revealed that the Little Opry did not have a state entertainment permit for 2009, which meant that it hadn’t had its annual inspection for this year.

Later it was revealed that there had been three fires with undetermined causes at other properties owned by Edith Hamilton, and two fires at properties owned by Jim Bowyer. Hamilton also owed $68,000 in business and property back taxes.

By this time, agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had also been brought into the investigation.

Investigators concluded that the Little Opry fire had been deliberately set. In late September of 2009, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, which includes the State Fire Marshal’s office, offered a reward of $5,000 for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible for this arson.

Later, Indiana Insurance, the Little Opry’s insurer, announced that it was offering a total of $25,000 reward for information.

Finally, in March of 2012, Bowyer was arrested and charged with arson in the fire.

 

IU Trustees Encouraging Development of Women and Minority Owned Businesses

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Last Thursday, during a board meeting at Indiana University East in Richmond, IU trustees talked about the contracts awarded by the school to businesses owned by minorities, women, and veterans.

Governor Mike Pence set diversity targets for all state purchasing from the Indiana government.

According to trustee Patrick Shoulders, IU considers those aspirational goals. The aim is to encourage the development of women-owned businesses and minority-owned businesses, known as WBE and MBE, in the state of Indiana.

Shoulders says IU is one of the leading institutions in the state making the effort to achieve these goals.

“We have not attained the self-imposed aspirational goals and I think there are a lot of explanations for that,” Shoulders said, “It certainly isn’t through lack of effort but perhaps through lack of available, qualified WBE and MBE providers.”

Shoulders explains that the awards are given out based on the lowest bid, which can make it hard for small businesses to win contracts at IU.

“I think that this effort is difficult and we’re fighting against years and years of discrimination,” Shoulders said, “The Board of Trustees was quite clear that We expect IU to be on the cutting edge of pushing for the success of WBEs and MBEs.”
Though IU fell short of the  state’s diversity directives, Shoulders says the trustees want IU to be a leader in the state for awarding these kinds of contracts.

Business Outlook Panel Finishes Indiana Tour in Richmond, Expect Economy Growth in Next Year

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The 42 annual tour of the business outlook panel wound up its final presentation yesterday in Richmond, Indiana.

The panel is an annual activity of Kelly School of Business. A group of economists and financial experts who get together each year on October to understand the latest trends in the economy and predict where the economy is heading in the year ahead. Experts will also go around the state over the span of the couple of weeks to most of Indiana’s major cities and talk with audiences in those places about how they see economy shaping up.

There are different members of the panel that deal with the global, national and local economy, Director of Indiana Business Research Center Jerry Conover said.

“We always look forward to hearing what the business people and community leaders across the state are thinking,” Conover said.

Conover says they expect 2014 will begin with unimpressive growth and continue job growth. As the year progress in 2014 though, we will expect to see a stronger growth toward the year end. To put that in figure, it is estimated that the overall economy measured in GDP will expand at about 2.5 percent rate.The employment will grow nationally by a little more than 2 million jobs. Unemployment by the end of the year should be down to 6.5 percent nationally.

Conover says the main factors to growth are the continued low interest rates making borrowing affordable for business and propping up higher stock market prices as a result.

“Employers have been increasingly optimistic, though there is still a lot of hesitation,” Conover said, “They’re a little bit more willing to invest in new facilities and to hire staff. They’re not nearly yet to the level they were prior to the recession, but we do see progress coming along.”

According to Conover, Indiana mirrors national economy in many respects though the unemployment has continued to be higher than national average. The most recent figure was 8.1 percent for the state, whereas nationally it’s about 1 percentage point lower.

“We expect for the coming year that unemployment will drop in Indiana, probably somewhere in the upper 6 percent range,” Conover said, “Pay roll jobs will grow by about 55,000 more jobs, and that would be stronger growth than we’ve seen this year.”

Meanwhile, manufacturing continues to be a key factor in creating new jobs in Indiana since the recession. Yet, manufacturing employment and wages are not growing nearly as fast as they had been several years ago.

Conover explains that is because firms during the downturns were able to find ways to make their production more efficient, by improving technology, improving processes that didn’t requires many people to do the job. Once those improvements were made, factories are turning out more products and more dollar value of their output even though they don’t have many employees as they used to.

Conover also adds that employment growing substantially more in nonmanufacturing sector. Healthcare services has been one of the big areas. There has been a lot of job growth in various parts of healthcare sector.

Eight Medical Corp. relocates offices to Bloomington

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Eight Medical Corporation has relocated its offices from St. Paul, Minnesota to Bloomington. The company is a medical device distributor. Its main device called the Recirculator Eight Point Zero, used to treat cavities.

Dana Palazzo, project manager for Bloomington Economic Development Corporation, says quality of life was a huge factor for the corporation choosing Bloomington.

“If the word gets out that better businesses are coming here to Bloomington, because of the business climate and the tax environment,” Palazzo says, “More businesses will look at Bloomington when they’re choosing relocation.”

Despite the fact that Eight Medical Corporation only has a small office with two full-time employees locally, Palazzo says it still diversifies the community.

“Any new business to Bloomington is a great success,” Palazzo says, “We have pretty robust and diverse industry in the life sciences, from medical devices to pharmaceuticals. New business adds to the knowledge base we have here.”

This move comes as part of the Bloomington Economic Development Corporation’s effort to improve the local life science community.

Latest Study Finds Indiana Manufacturing Industry Strong and Growing

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Earlier this month, the certified public accounting firm Katz, Sapper & Miller LLP released the results of their seventh annual Indiana manufacturing survey.

The statewide study of employers in Indiana’s largest industry shows growth in Hoosier manufacturing.

According to the survey, nearly 80 percent of respondents over the last two annual surveys describe their businesses as “healthy” or “stable,” while nearly half used the term “challenged” to characterize their operations in 2009 and 2010.

The survey finds more than 70 percent of Hoosier manufacturers are actively investing in capital and labor, while less than 5 percent are continuing to cut costs across the board.

Human capital also continues to be a major obstacle confronting Indiana manufacturers. Survey respondents identified skilled production workers as the most significant labor shortage facing their companies.

The survey was commissioned by Katz, Sapper & Miller and developed in partnership with the IU Kelley School of Business – Indianapolis, Conexus Indiana and the Indiana Manufacturers Association.

 

Ins and Outs of Money – Small Business: Part 1

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Interested in started your own business? Sarah and Ashley talk with Jason Carnes, the Assistant Director from the City’s Economic and Sustainable Development Department. Jason shares tips on how to get started and resources for success.

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