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January 23, 2019

5/13/2009
Unintelligible Intelliplex
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A story about re-certification of Shelbyville's Certified Technology Park appeared in the local newspaper this week. The article stirred up considerable interest throughout Shelby County.

Apparently, lots of citizens remain hungry for continuing information about the ongoing developments at Intelliplex Park. Many readers contacted me to make certain that I had read the newspaper story and to encourage me to create a cartoon.

Done.

For those of you who did not see the story in Monday's newspaper, a copy follows:

Clock Ticks on Intelliplex

Re-certification in doubt, but officials insist future not bleak

By Ron Hamilton - The Shelbyville News

Monday, May 11, 2009

In less than five months, the state-imposed two-year probationary period will expire for Intelliplex, Shelbyville's certified technology park, and no one - not even Shelbyville's ever-optimistic mayor - can deny the inevitable: Intelliplex won't comply with the terms laid down by state officials and almost certainly will lose its certification.

A loss of certification means the city no longer would be able to capture nearly $200,000 each year in sales tax revenues.

"We were told in a memorandum of agreement that we had to have a new spec building and create 50 new high-tech jobs by Oct. 4, and those goals now appear unreachable," said Mayor Scott Furgeson. "Back when the economy was good, we were talking with several different companies about the spec building. But when the economy went south, people quit talking to us."

Will officials with the Indiana Economic Development Corp. take into consideration the state's bleak economic climate when the deadline arrives and give the park a pass? City officials say they don't know, but city attorney Michelle Cobourn-Baurley has had several conversations with IEDC board members, and it doesn't look good, local officials said.

Challenges From The Outset

In recounting some of the history of the local beleaguered technology park, the mayor admitted that one of the Intelliplex's biggest problems from the outset may have been political.

"The idea of creating CTP's came six years ago from the Democratic administrations of Frank O'Bannon and Joe Kernan," Furgeson said. "The current Republican administration has never liked the idea of giving state revenues away. I truly believe that the IEDC wants us to fail because they've done absolutely nothing to help us. They have not communicated with us or given us prospects and business leads."

The mayor said the IEDC "put hard parameters on us" 18 months ago by insisting on a new spec building and 50 new high-tech jobs as conditions to retain certification.

"Looking back, we probably knew realistically that we couldn't meet those demands, but it gave us two more years of certification and two more years of capturing sales taxes in that area," he said. "We figured we would fight this battle in two years, and now the two years are about up."

According to Major Hospital attorney Lee McNeely, the 141-acre park got caught up early on in partisan bickering both locally and at the state level.

"A few local people persisted in attacking Intelliplex because they never wanted it to succeed, and some state officials used those attacks to undercut the park at steps along the way," he said. "The park was truly visionary, and I believe it was properly planned, but the build-out on the park was always predicted to be about 10 to 15 years. Some people just got very impatient for immediate success, and their public criticisms hurt us around the state, no doubt about it."

A lot of that public criticism has come from local community activist and political watchdog Mike Carpenter and local Democratic Party official and labor activist John Steineker. Both have attended public meetings and questioned various aspects about the park. Carpenter has questioned the way the park has been promoted and marketed.

"For example, I was less than impressed with the Intelliplex Web site," Carpenter said. "Not enough information is available there to induce business to come here."

Steineker has railed against the types of jobs created at the park. He also has called the infrastructure "monuments to a few people."

"The park has not been true to its original concept," Steineker said last April's meeting of the city redevelopment commission. "The idea from the very beginning has been to provide an environment to attract high-quality, good-paying jobs. Something is wrong out there and the pieces just haven't fit."

Behind The Eight-ball

From its beginning in 2003, the business park located a mile north of Shelbyville has sparked controversy, perhaps due to its unusual partnership between public and private enterprise. Intelliplex is modeled as a not-for-profit partnership among the city, the county and Major Hospital. The land, itself, is owned by the hospital, an arrangement the mayor said hurt the park from the very beginning.

"The city redevelopment commission should have owned the land out there, because anytime I wanted to make a deal I had to ask the hospital," Furgeson said. "It was awkward. Sometimes it worked out, and sometimes it didn't."

According to Furgeson, some things were put in the original application for certification by members of the former administration and Major Hospital that never happened.

"That kind of put us behind the eight-ball and if we don't get recertified - which now seems likely - those things are all going to come out," he said. "For example, there was a business called Med Ventures that was supposed to locate at the park, a business the hospital was supposed to start and that never took off. There were other things in the original application that never took off, and that hurt us."

Other Parks Wanting

According to the conditions of the memorandum of understanding signed by Furgeson, the Indiana secretary of commerce and Phil Haehl, president of the city redevelopment commission, the IEDC reserves the right to deny the park's recertification, but that is something the mayor questions.

"I think it's unclear if the IEDC actually has the ability to decertify us," he said. "They are not a state agency, they are a private agency, so I don't think they have the authority to pull the plug on us. I think, legally, that has to be done by the state Legislature, so I think the matter has to come up in the General Assembly next year."

The mayor noted that city, county and hospital officials recently discussed the state's 17 other certified technology parks and wondered how they were faring during the recent bleak econony.

"Columbus has a CTP, and there's not been a single thing built over there," he said "So, where does their certification stand, and how does that work out? There are 92 counties in the state. Has each of those counties created 50 new jobs in the last year or two? I don't think so."

Furgeson also believes the IEDC's job creation performance leaves a lot to be desired. He has deemed its performance a failure.

"How does the IEDC expect us to create new jobs when they're supposed to be the experts, and they're not doing it," he insisted.

Many Still Confident

Many city officials still believe the park will be developed "once the economy turns around." They note that the park's infrastructure - utilities, fiber optics, streets and sidewalks in place for the last four years - now exceeds $12 million. City and county officials are committed to paying the park $125,000 per year in economic development income tax money for another 16 years. Also, the park already has received a state grant of $1.2 million which was used to build the conference center.

"The park will be a success because it has a lot to offer, and it's still a good deal for someone to be there," Furgeson said.

According to McNeely, Intelliplex has been marketed and promoted "as well as it could have, under the circumstances."

"It's always been a question of timing," he said. "I still think the park is several years away. It has so much to offer, and it will take off once the economy improves."

Major Hospital CEO Jack Horner continues to remain upbeat about the park's future. He believes the state will recertify the park, once local officials are given the opportunity to state their case and defend the park at the October recertification hearing.

"We'll have a very positive story to tell them in October," Horner said. "I still believe this area, the southeast corridor of Indiana, is poised for long-term growth. Counting the new reNovo Orthopedic Center planned for the park, we will have more than $50 million invested in it. We're in it for the long haul and we've always had an excellent partnership with city and county officials."

The mayor said losing certification will mean not only losing captured sales tax revenue, but also that the city won't be able to give better deals on land to prospective businesses to entice them to locate and develop here.

Other Options

"There are other options available for us to capture money out there," he said. "We can always create a tax increment finance district, a new TIF, to capture property tax monies."

McNeely noted that the more than 200 employees in the park continue to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes.

"That is revenue that will either be sent to the state government in Indianapolis, or kept here in Shelbyville for us to use to help our own industries and people," he said. "I prefer that the money stays here."

Related Stories:
• Perplexed by IEDC Probation?
• Basic Info About IEDC and Tech Parks



Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, May 15, 2009
Article comment by: bumblebee

I cant unrstand the IEDC. They wanted Intelliplex to build a high tech spec building in a high tech park to attract a high tech company? That makes no sense. I mean, what would a high tech spec building do that a law firm and a steak joint couldn't do? Man, that IEDC. Those crooks! They wanted Intelliplex to fail thats obvious. I mean, how dare them turn a blind eye for all those years while pockets were being lined? How dare them recertify the park for two more years? Its obvious, the IEDC is to blame in all of this. Of course John Steineker and Mike Carpenter are equally guilty. How dare them ask questions of those in power?

Posted: Friday, May 15, 2009
Article comment by: Bonnerfan #9,000

Ditto to Silly Sally,

Kind of reminds me of one of these mythical creatures where you cut off its head and two more grow back.

And, in this case, they're biting some local bigshot booty that deserves to be bit!


Posted: Friday, May 15, 2009
Article comment by: Silly Sally

Dee

Have you ever wondered how much the Grand Poo-Bah and his clan kick themselves in the A** after viewing your site? I bet they get so mad they can’t even spit. Before, at the paper they could get that employment noose up around your neck and choke off your creative juices. Now, thanks to them, the movers and shakers (aka “the advertisers”) they have restored your power to have freedom of the press or shall we stay freedom of the internet. Please – Please keep up the good work. I think the best of Bonner is yet to come.

And to think what a fuss they made over that little rock!!!

Bonnerhead Fan # 2150

P.S. Congrats on passing the 1-yr anniversary mark for your site.




Posted: Thursday, May 14, 2009
Article comment by: heehaw

Love the PooBah picture!!!!!!!

Good point made by "hohum", we agree with the suggestion!

Hee & Haw


Posted: Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Article comment by: hohum

If the certification is lost the city and county councils must revisit their commitment to provide $125,000 a piece for the next 16 years which translates into $4,000,000. After all I believe they committed our tax dollars to support a certified tech park. If the certification is lost then all bets should be off. What good is our tax investment if we can't realize the returns associated with the tech park legislation?

Haven’t we spent enough at Intelliplex? When does the spending end? What’s next---a bailout of Intelliplex with casino funds?

I don't know about you but I fear for my job while my government continues to spend tax dollars blindly and with no regard to those who worked hard to generate those dollars.




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