Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Could ABN Development Be Litebox II?

It’s been a topsy turvy week on Indy’s Westside.

Last week, Carrier’s parent company broke the news that its Westside operation and all its jobs would be moving to Mexico over the next couple of years. That hit like a ton of bricks dropped from an invisible crane, and it blindsided everyone. Political enemies have united in opposition to the plant’s closing which appears to be motivated by nothing more than pure capitalism.  Goodbye to thousands of good-paying, union manufacturing jobs.

Then, just as out of the blue, the Airport Authority announced plans for a unique athletic facility to replace the old airport terminal. The sports, medical, and entertainment complex would be developed by an Indy-based company called Athlete’s Business Network (never heard of them before) and would, according to estimates, create 3,000 new jobs.  It was a development that took some governmental agencies by surprise and apparently was the winner of four submitted plans to the Airport Authority.  Price tag is $500 million on the facility and no public money is in the plans.

I remain skeptical about the ABN development because it sounds too good to be true. In fact, it sounds an awful lot like when then-Governor Mitch Daniels and then-Mayor Greg Ballard held a news conference to announce 1,000 new jobs coming to Indy’s Northwest side along with a company called Litebox that was supposed to make semi-trailer sized HD screens for events. Litebox never got off the ground with its Indianapolis development, and, sadly, founder Bob Yanagihara passed away from cancer.

Call me jaded or cynical after hearing these types of announcements over periods of time, but I just get the same feeling with this development. There just seems to be a lot of unanswered questions.

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