A story in Thursday's edition of The Shelbyville News reported that city officials are looking into constructing a 50,000-square-foot brick building at Intelliplex Park to be used as an incubator to help develop startup businesses. You can read the newspaper story here.
Shelbyville's mayor claims construction of the new facility will satisfy one of the terms required in the Memorandum of Understanding agreement with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. Fulfillment of the terms is a condition imposed by the IEDC in order for Intelliplex Park to retain its designation as a state certified technology park.
Members of the Shelbyville Redevelopment Commission were told that space in the new building would be leased to fledgling life-science industries at reduced rates for the first three or four years of their existence which will give those businesses an opportunity to survive and grow. The Mayor's proposal calls for using the city's racino money to construct the new building, then the facility would be paid for with tax revenues captured from the tech park.
According to the news story, the mayor said he talked with members of the IEDC, and they thought it was a 'great idea'. In addition, a city council member said he 'likes the concept' and noted that he and other council members had met with state economic officials and 'received much positive feedback'. Hearsay. Hearsay. Hearsay.
Well, I've received hearsay feedback, too. I've received hearsay feedback by telephone. I've received hearsay feedback by e-mail. And I was surprised to discover that dozens of readers had accessed the Intelliplex Memorandum of Understanding article on this website yesterday. Clearly, there's an interest in the issue.
As you might imagine, not all of the feedback I've received is as 'positive' as the city's feedback. Let me share a few of the more publishable comments:
"Why would the city construct a new building at Intelliplex when the city's $2 million conference center at Intelliplex is never used? Didn't the city claim THAT building was going to be be paid for with rental fees?"
"This scheme sounds like another Intelliplex building project similar to the Wesleyan building where somebody will buy the building cheap and the city will lose millions of dollars in the process."
"How can the mayor say his new building will satisfy a stipulation from state officials when the recertification agreement says a private developer (not the city) must construct a new building. Why is the city spending Racino money for this!"
"It seems that the city's real reason for spending tax dollars to construct another building at Intelliplex is to protect bad personal investments made by private individuals at Intelliplex. It's nothing but another form of bailout! The chickens have come home to roost!"
After pondering the foregoing comments and others of a similar nature, I've arrived at an alternate proposal. Here's my plan:
First of all, it's difficult for me to envision how a new incubator building can be a profitable investment. Since the city has already built one unprofitable building at Intelliplex (the Conference Center), it probably makes more sense for a private developer to assume the risk. Besides, the private developer approach seems to be more compliant with the original intent of the Intelliplex re-certification agreement. On the other hand, if those unnamed 'state economic officials' truly love the incubator building concept, maybe they should give the city a grant to build it.
Therefore, I suggest that if the city really wants a business incubator program, we should widen the scope and use a portion of the racino economic development money to subsidize rent for all of the vacant buildings in the City of Shelbyville.
Get it? Instead of constructing another new building, let's get rid of all the empty, eyesore buildings we already have by filling them with paying tenants. Landlords will like the idea. So will new business owners since occupancy costs are one of their biggest expenses. Here's another plus, the plan is not limited to a small number of hi-tech businesses, instead, it would include all types of retail, service, professional and manufacturing enterprises. In addition, the plan could be used to create clusters of businesses, like a city arts district, for example.
Maybe it boils down to this: What would YOU rather do with the racino money? Benefit as many people as possible? Or, bankroll a roost of pullets?
Posted: Monday, May 24, 2010
Article comment by:
Aren't there more pressing needs in Shelbyville than building a facility at Intelliplex that may sit empty?
Other cities have done tremendous things for their citizens using casino funds. I believe I heard that one Indiana city established a major scholarship fund for their high school kids who couldn't afford college.
How about our crumbling sidewalks and curbs and pothole-filled city streets, for just one example? How about assistance to hundreds of local people who have lost their jobs and to the needs of senior citizens?
Posted: Sunday, May 23, 2010
Article comment by:
A proud C*A*V*E dweller!
Why doesn't the Shelbyville News dig deeper into issues like this?
It seems simple enough for them to question the city and the mayor’s motives.
Maybe Lee McNeely controls the paper like he tries to do with every other business in town?
Could he be the legal counsel for the paper and they are afraid of upsetting him?
Will the tax payers in this city ever stand up and demand accountability from our elected officials?
Will they wait until after the mayor has successfully given away everything and run the city into bankruptcy court?
At that point, everyone who made their fortune at our expenses will be long gone to a beautiful beach, somewhere far away, sipping on a Mai Tai and laughing all the way to the bank.