Remembering Bill Hudnut; My Interview with Him on Getting the Colts

Indianapolis Mayor Bill Hudnut was the first mayor I have a memory of. When I read of his passing over the weekend, it took me back to all the landmark accomplishments that took place during his 16 years in office.

I also thought about the lively and interesting phone interview I had with him in the summer of 2011. The Chamber’s BizVoice® magazine was doing a section on famed business deals and I got the best one: the Circle City landing the Colts.

I found Mayor Hudnut more than willing to take a stroll down memory lane and share his opinions.

An excerpt from the interview:

“We thought we’d get a franchise because the league was expanding, not the relocation of an existing one. (Owner) Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders moved (the team) to Los Angeles and, secondly, there was a strike, so they weren’t going to expand – which certainly was sort of a blow to us. But we were pregnant with the thing; we had to keep on building it as an expansion to the convention center. That’s the way it was promoted to the public – that it would justify itself whether or not it was used 12 days a year for a football game.”

Read the full Q&A (you have to love his detail and memory of the events). Also read the full BizVoice article.

Indiana Logistics Summit to Kick Off Sept. 22

2015 LOGISTICS SUMMIT LOGO JPEGThe Indiana Logistics Summit is fast approaching, and will convene in the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis on Sept. 22 (and a VIP Colts tailgate reception will be held at Crane Bay on Sept. 21). Visit www.indianalogistics.com or call (866) 515-0023 to register or receive more information. (Registration is $175 per person, or call Liz Folkerts at (317) 232-9205 for information on group rates.)

There is something for everyone at the 2015 Indiana Logistics Summit as top executives from Google, GE Aviation, Indianapolis Colts, Fair Oaks Farms, NCAA, Harvard Business School, IndyCar and others will be featured speakers at the 13th annual event on Tuesday, Sept. 22, in the Indiana Convention Center. The Summit will bring 300 leaders to Indianapolis to hear educational presentations about logistics from a variety of industries and to celebrate the Indianapolis Colts’ home opener on Monday Night Football.

In conjunction with a “Logistics in Sports” segment, the evening reception for Summit attendees will be held on Monday, Sept. 21, at The Crane Bay as part of the Colts VIP Tailgate leading up to the Colts game versus the New York Jets. Tickets to the reception are complimentary with Summit registration, and include a Morton Steakhouse buffet, cocktail bars hosted by Jim Beam, visits from Colts cheerleaders and former players, the live broadcast site for the Colts’ pregame show, an NFL memorabilia auction and much more.

The Indiana Logistics Summit is co-hosted by Purdue University, the Ports of Indiana and Conexus Indiana to promote the logistics industry and showcase the critical role this sector plays in the national economy. Some topics to be featured at this year’s program include:

– The Role of Logistics in Attracting Indiana’s Mega Projects
– A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Logistics in Sports
– Closing the Skills Gap to Improve U.S. Competitiveness
– New Solutions for the National Transportation Infrastructure Crisis
– Emerging Technologies: Unmanned Systems, Smart Drones and What’s Next?

There will also be a special “Logistics U” program for high school students to learn about career and educational opportunities in logistics.

“This is a can’t-miss event for anyone interested in logistics, sports, drones or the future of our economy,” said Rich Cooper, CEO for the Ports of Indiana. “Logistics is something that Indiana knows very well. Our robust transportation infrastructure and central location create tremendous logistical advantages for businesses that move products by air, rail, truck and water. The Summit celebrates the importance of this industry and provides an important platform for informative discussions among businesses, leaders and transportation professionals. This year’s program will offer a diverse group of topics that will appeal to a broad audience.”

The Summit program opens with the Keynote Breakfast featuring a presentation titled “Grass to Glass Logistics” by Mike McCloskey, the CEO of Select Milk Producers and owner of Fair Oaks Farms, one of the nation’s largest dairies. The Northwest Indiana dairy recently announced a new partnership venture with Coca-Cola that is aimed at revolutionizing milk consumption across the country.

There will also be an inside look at the Indianapolis Colts’ ‘Midnight Move’ from Baltimore, the NCAA’s coordination of 90 national championships per year, and a preview of the ‘100th Running of the Indianapolis 500.’ Emerging technologies will be explored in a futuristic session focused on the development of drone delivery systems, the launch of the state’s first college major in unmanned vehicles and companies with real-world applications for drones in logistics. Top national experts will also share recommendations for how businesses, government and academia can help address two of the biggest challenges facing the logistics industry – aging transportation infrastructure and workforce development in closing the skills gap.

Final Takeaways on New State Budget

Great, we have a state budget for the next two years, but what’s to make of it?

Foremost, the budget sticks to Gov. Daniels’ request to maintain a $1 billion surplus in the state’s reserve funds.   According to Indiana Chamber tax lobbyist Bill Waltz, this prudent amount is significant and important for the state to stay on track financially.

“With the revenue stream being so incredibly uncertain in the coming months and the federal stimulus dollars that are built into the two-year budget going away in 2012, it is critical that we not just cross our fingers and simply hope for the revenue stream to return.  Because if the economy fails to rebound or falters only slightly longer than the revenue projections, we will be in a hole at the end of the budget cycle.

“And then the only way to avoid a tax increase of some kind would be to utilize the surplus balance as that final bridge out of the troubled economy. In other words, it is at that time – not now or next year – that we (the state of Indiana) may want to use those funds,” he explains.

Waltz also believes the budget strikes a good balance between “spending desires and reasonable fiscal constraint on many issues (not just in the education area).”

A number of positive provisions that fell by the wayside via the regular session budget collapse had better fortune this time around.  Among them, the bulk of what was House Bill 1447, an all-inclusive piece of tax legislation, and a multi-million-dollar financial rescue for Indianapolis’ Capital Improvement Board (CIB).

The CIB situation simply had to be dealt with, Waltz says.

“Many from outside the Central Indiana area are reluctant to acknowledge the economic contribution that the CIB facilities (the convention center, Lucas Oil Stadium, Conseco Fieldhouse and Victory Field) make to the state’s economic vitality and coffers. Indiana, not Indianapolis, could not afford to see these operations and the tax revenue that their attractions bring be put in jeopardy,” he asserts.

Indiana Chamber education lobbyist Derek Redelman believes the budget bill also produced one of the best sets of education reform in the state’s history.

Heading that list of accomplishments is the new K-12 school funding formula that gives greater focus to students, rather than school districts, than any previous budget of the last couple decades. 

“The bill also included a scholarship tax credit that will generate private donations to help low- and moderate-income families to attend the schools of their choice – while also saving money for the state.  It also eliminated a longstanding statute that had prohibited schools from using the results of state tests to evaluate teachers,” Redelman notes.

“This budget avoided caps and other controls on charter schools, despite a session-long full-court press by Indianapolis Public Schools, House Democrats, teacher unions, school administrators and other charter school opponents.  Plus, it will allow virtual charter schools to finally get started, after a two-year moratorium created by the 2007 state budget.” 

Correction: The budget passed the Republican-controlled Senate 34-16.  A total of 30 of the 33 Republicans voted for the bill and were joined by four Democrats (Hume, Young, Arnold and Mrvan). Republican no votes were from Leising, Delph and Becker.

Indy Mayor Makes Case for CIB Funds

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard made his plea today before members of the budget conference committee for over $45 million in funding to rescue the city’s Capital Improvement Board (CIB).

According to Ballard, the CIB has a “three to four-year hump to get over.  We’re at risk until that point.”

At risk are major sports events such as the Big Ten basketball tournaments, the men’s NCAA Final Four, the 2012 Super Bowl and the convention center expansion.

Representative Terry Goodin (D-Austin) asked the mayor if his “proposal would take care of the board’s deficit or is it just another Band-Aid” – with more dollars needed down the road.  Ballard replied, “I feel pretty comfortable with this going forward…I don’t want to come back (for more money) – nobody wants us to come back.”

Ballard pointed out several times the connection of CIB activities to the entire state, referencing that the majority (60%) of traffic to the downtown sports facilities, Circle Centre mall, etc. is from out of town.

Though overall sympathetic to the mayor’s predicament, some registered displeasure that one area of the state would receive such significant financial attention.

Representative Bill Crawford (D-Indianapolis): “One of the caveats I’ve stated all along is that I support this, but by my own calculations, I can count only 21 legislators representing Marion County – and that’s a problem.  Other areas of the state have problems too.”

Crawford also encouraged his fellow legislators to keep the Indianapolis Indians baseball team in mind when looking at the mayor’s proposed increase in the admission tax, which he said could adversely affect the most affordable sports option for families,

Representatives Dennis Avery (D-Evansville) and Eric Turner (R-Marion) raised questions over Ballard’s proposed $2 million increase in the Professional Sports Development Area (PSDA) from $8 million to $10 million.  These additional funds would come to the CIB via the retention of more funds – as opposed to going into the state coffers.  These two legislators were concerned with how this would look to other cities like Fort Wayne and Evansville with professional sports teams but already receiving significantly less funding. 

Meanwhile, Rep. Jeff Espich (R-Uniondale) worried that helping the CIB “would open it up for others to try to fix gaming and other issues elsewhere ….we will be doomed if that happens.”

One voice of reason in all of this was Sen. Lindel Hume (D-Princeton), who seemed to be tired of hearing that no one outside of Marion County truly cared about the CIB funding woes. 

“I live in rural Princeton and I care.  The CIB represents a significant investment in future revenue for Indiana,” he notes.  “If we don’t do something, Circle Centre (mall) will close; we will lose dollars.  If we don’t do something, the conventions will leave; we will lose dollars.  This is as important as a large manufacturer to the state.”

But perhaps Rep. Cherrish Pryor (D-Indianapolis) made the best case for providing the CIB with the requested money.  “The state receives a much greater amount in return – roughly half a billion dollars – than what CIB is asking us for.”

It would appear then that some common ground must be reached and CIB funding included in the state budget, despite the shortness of time. (Crawford noted a bill must be printed by Sunday to present to the House.)

Hoosier State Awarded 2012 Super Bowl

This is breaking news to you, right? You had no idea, I’m sure. You’re just wondering who shot J.R.? But yeah, unless you’ve been in a coma, you know Indianapolis was awarded the 2012 Super Bowl yesterday as NFL bigwigs gathered in Atlanta.

The bid was a culmination of efforts from the state’s public and private sectors, and serves as an all-around "atta-boy!" and testament to the capital city’s progress over the years. Granted, the video presentation by Dennis Hopper likely didn’t hurt. Although most of us know him for his Academy Award-nominated performance in "Hoosiers," it looks like Shooter has cleaned up his act and made a very articulate presentation. Better yet, he didn’t even fire his shotgun at any strangers … "IDENTIFYYYYYYYY!" (If you don’t get that reference, you simply haven’t watched "Hoosiers" enough and are docked 10 points on your Indiana citizenship exam.)

All told, the economic benefit for the area is estimated by Mayor Greg Ballard to be at least $100 million and up to $20 million in tax revenue (although this Ball State study claims the benefits could be much higher). Let’s all just hope the entire state and its business community can benefit from this remarkable achievement.

In the meantime, kudos to Indianapolis, the Colts franchise, and to our great state for this honor.