Welcome to Business Now from the Carmel Chamber of Commerce. We have launched this initiative to better inform our constituents, keeping them abreast of happenings that directly impact business – whether that is a proposed local ordinance or a pending piece of state legislation.
As a member-driven organization committed to enhancing our members’ success, fostering economic growth and contributing to our community’s quality of life, the Carmel Chamber is in business for business. In the last few years, the Chamber has taken a more active role in shaping our business environment through our Business Issues Committee, a 13-member group that meets monthly to discuss pressing issues.
These issues come to the Chamber from a variety of sources, including members, board and business issues committee members as well as the broader business community. The issue is vetted at the Business Issues Committee level leading to a committee vote (simple majority prevails) to take a position on the issue or not. That decision is then forwarded to our 14-member Board of Directors who also must vote to endorse the committee recommendation before the Chamber publicly issues a position.
We hope this provides an informative look at the issues impacting your business. Ideas for future issues or questions about the chamber? Contact Mo Merhoff, Carmel Chamber President.
TRANSIT UPDATE - October 2013
Click here to read President Mo Merhoff's column in support of mass transit at Inside Indiana Business.
Mo Merhoff, Carmel Chamber President, spoke at the mass transit committee hearing of the state Legislature. Click here for her complete comments.
The Carmel Chamber supported the 2013 session transit legislation.
The Carmel Chamber of Commerce continues to be immersed in issues impacting business in our city and beyond. This issue of BusinessNOW provides:
- an update on the Illinois Street completion.
- an opportunity to hear where the City of Carmel has been and where it's going at the Mayor's State of the City Address.
- a chance to nominate your business or another for our annual business excellence awards.
- an update from our nation's capitol as Chamber members return from Washington, D.C.
Take our Quick Poll:
After several years as the "road to nowhere," Carmel's Illinois Street will be completed by late 2014. The incomplete street was a hindrance for numerous businesses that were located near the north-south street; with the impending closure of U.S. 31, a completed through street had become increasingly necessary.
What is your #1 business concern as the fourth quarter begins? Click here to take the poll.
Illinois Street Completion in Sight
The Carmel Chamber Business Issues Committee had made the completion a priority focus in 2013, addressing the issue on numerous occasions. We are extremely pleased to see this project moving forward.
October Luncheon: Mayor's State of the City Address
Click here for the video State of the City Address presented by Mayor Jim Brainare on October 9, 2013.
Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard will deliver his 18th State of the City address at the Chamber's next luncheon on October 10. At last year's event, 450 business and community leaders, Chamber members and guests were on hand to hear about where the city's been and where it's going.
Corporate tables with preferential seating and individual reservations are available.
"Excellence" Nominations due October 25
Each year at our December luncheon, we honor companies and individuals for business excellence and contribution to the community. Nominations are accepted through October 25 in these categories:
Click here for details and nomination forms.
- Applause - Business of the Year
- Young Professional of the Year - NEW in 2013
- Look - Renovation
- Look - New Construction
- Carmel Green
- MV2 - Most Valuable Volunteer
Update from Nation's Capitol
Members of the Carmel Chamber participated in the recent D.C. Fly-In on Sept. 18 – 19, sponsored by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. The delegation was briefed on three points of interest upon arrival: comprehensive tax reform, regulatory reform and immigration reform.
The two days spent immersed in those national issues were eye opening to attendees. According to Bub’s Burgers Owner and Carmel Chamber Business Issues Committee Chair Matt Frey, the trip provided great insight into the complexity of issues and pace of government business. “I’m not sure how they do it,” said Frey. “They have meetings scheduled every 15 minutes with some interest or another. It’s just a very frenetic pace.”
Carmel-based attorney Tammy Haney was also among the delegation representing the Carmel Chamber of Commerce. She, too, found the perspective provided on these issues very insightful of the process. “I was very impressed with the depth of knowledge and passion with which they go about their jobs,” she said. “It was evident that both the representatives and their staff were fully immersed in their work.” She was also pleased that 10 of 11 members of the Indiana delegation participated in a panel discussion moderated by Inside Indiana Business host Gerry Dick and arranged by the Indiana Chamber.
The issues in-depth from the Indiana Chamber of Commerce:
1. Comprehensive Tax Reform
The Indiana Chamber of Commerce believes that a major reform of the federal tax code is long overdue; it has been 27 years since the last overhaul. Since that time, the code has been larded up with hundreds – even thousands – of new provisions, most narrowly tailored to specific interests. Overall, the current code is overly complex, unfair, anti-competitive and stifles both economic growth and job creation.
A revenue-neutral reform that seeks to simplify and rationalize the federal tax code is necessary. Such a reform would:
- lower the corporate tax rate from 35% – the highest in the world today – to 25%;
- lower the top personal income tax rate to 25% while reducing the number of brackets
- eliminate the alternative-minimum tax (AMT) and the estate tax;
- adopt a territorial system where income earned overseas is not taxed twice; and
- minimize special provisions and make those that remain permanent (e.g., R&D tax credit).
Such a reform, if done correctly, would broaden the base while lowering rates across the board – spurring new investment, job creation, economic growth and, ultimately, tax revenues.
2. Regulatory Reform
The Indiana Chamber of Commerce believes that there has been a trend of the current administration to impose its policies through actions taken by the executive branch, especially the regulatory agencies, even when a policy has been explicitly rejected by Congress.
For example, Obama Administration has delayed approval of the Keystone XL pipeline by slow-walking it through the regulatory approval process. The Indiana Chamber of Commerce believes that the U.S. Constitution empowers the Congress – and only Congress – with the power to make our federal laws. The executive branch is empowered to enforce the laws passed by Congress, not make them or selectively enforce them.
3. Principled, Pragmatic Immigration Reform
The U.S. Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill, S. 744, earlier this summer; it was announced “dead on arrival” in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Senate legislation is controversial because it seeks to provide legal status and a path to citizenship to nearly 11 million illegals in this country today while also promising beefed-up border protection and immigration enforcement in the future. Democrats and Republicans are far apart on the priority and timing of these provisions, yet there seems to be agreement on many employer-related provisions of the bill.
Given the complex, comprehensive nature of S. 744, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce offers the following principles that any final immigration legislation should embrace in the effort to address the many economic, social and practical issues involved.
1) Any reform effort should be comprehensive, addressing both economic needs for future workers and undocumented workers already in the U.S. today.
2) Any reform legislation should strengthen national and border security by providing for the screening of foreign workers and creating a disincentive for future illegal immigration.
3) Any reform effort should strengthen the rule of law by establishing clear, sensible immigration laws and regulations that are efficiently and vigorously enforced.
4) Any reform legislation should create an immigration system which functions efficiently for employers, workers and government agencies.
5) Any reform legislation should increase quotas for highly skilled and seasonal workers while decreasing processing times to help dampen demand for undocumented workers.
6) Any reform legislation should create a program that requires undocumented workers to earn legal status.
7) Any reform legislation should ensure that Hoosier/American workers are not unfairly or unnecessarily displaced by foreign workers.
8) Any legislation should ensure that all domestic and documented workers enjoy the same labor law protections.
The “lazy days of summer” may be upon us, but the Carmel Chamber of Commerce continues to be immersed in issues impacting business in our city and beyond. This issue of BusinessNOW provides:
- an update of a revised Planned Unit Development (PUD) ordinance pending Carmel City Council.
- a look ahead to our July luncheon and what can we expect for US 31 during the next two years.
- a recap of our June luncheon guest, Jeff Speck.
- an opportunity for you to meet with Indiana's congressional delegation in Washington, D.C.
Take our Quick Poll
What is your #1 business concern as the third quarter begins? Click here to take the poll.
In Case You Missed It
The June Carmel Chamber Luncheon featuring urban planning expert and author Jeff Speck was a success on many different levels. Nearly 300 attendees were treated to the “inside scoop” on the design strategy behind the much discussed Midtown project. Click here to see the plan in its entirety.
His detailed overview of the project prompted several media outlets to feature his remarks including the Indianapolia Star, IBJ North of 96th Blog and Current in Carmel.
Speck, whose latest book is Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time, designed the development plan that encompasses the area between the Arts & Design District to the City Center and Palladium. To hear more from Jeff Speck, visit the Carmel Chamber’s YouTube channel.
Status Report: Planned Unit Developments
We continue to work closely with the Department of Community Service regarding an ordinance amending Planned Unit Development requirements. We have and continue to voice concerns regarding the increased fiscal and time demands upon developers, particularly at the beginning of construction projects that are included in this ordinance. The “sunset” clause has returned to the current version of the ordinance, potentially penalizing projects that modify plans due to market conditions after a certain amount of time.
The next meeting of the Land Use and Annexation committee is June 25. We urge Chamber members to contact committee members (Kevin Rider, Luci Snyder, Carol Schleif and Eric Seidensticker) or their City Council representative to express their concerns regarding this legislation.
Click here to read why the Carmel Chamber opposed this ordinance.
The Ever-Evolving US 31
The US 31 project continues to make its mark on the Carmel and Hamilton County landscape. Initiated in 2011, the project is scheduled to open in 2015. Intended to reduce congestion and improve safety, the US 31 Hamilton County project will upgrade the 13-mile corridor to freeway standards from I-465 to SR 38 with new interchanges between 96th and 216th Streets.
So, between now and 2015, how will your business be impacted? Carmel City Engineer Mike McBride will address the thoroughfare’s changes and challenges at the July 10 luncheon. Specifics on the Carmel portion of the project and what to expect in the county will be presented.
To see an overview of the project, click here.
To make your luncheon reservations, register online or call 317.846.1049.
Stay Tuned for Transit
We continue to follow the progress of the pending legislation regarding mass transit, for which a summer study group has been named to review the overall plan. The State Legislature’s Summer Study Committee on Central Indiana Transit includes two legislators from Hamilton County (Sen. Luke Kenley and Rep. Jerry Torr) and will be chaired by Sen. Patricia Miller, who represents a section of Marion County. Other committee members will be named shortly.
The Carmel Chamber supported the 2013 session transit legislation. Look for updated information in the fall edition of BusinessNOW.
Click here for contact information on the Hamilton County representatives in the Indiana Legislature.
Join Indiana Business Leaders in Washington
You can bring the “voice of business” to Indiana’s congressional delegation in Washington this fall. Business can make an impact on legislation and regulation, but first we must be heard.
In partnership with the Indiana Chamber, the Carmel Chamber would like to be represented by 10 of its members in Washington, D.C. on September 18 and 19. The Indiana Chamber's annual D.C. Fly-in is an important part of the business community's advocacy mission, and a strong attendance is needed to show a united business voice from Indiana.
Don’t miss this opportunity to build relationships with key elected officials and their staffs. Among the activities scheduled will be a dinner with U.S. senators and representatives as well as visits to congressional offices. Click here for schedule and details.
Interested in attending? Email Chamber President Mo Merhoff or call 317.846.1049.
New Sign Ordinance Simplifies Process
After nearly two decades, Carmel businesses have a new, easy-to-understand, clearly defined sign ordinance that includes a user-friendly visual guide.
The new ordinance is the result of a collaborative effort between the Carmel Chamber and the Department of Community Services (DOCS) for the city of Carmel.
Click here to read an overview of changes and to access the new sign ordinance in its entirety, along with with a visual guide to the ordinance.
Why Limiting PUDs is Bad for Business
During the last few months, we’ve noted some discussion by the Carmel Plan Commission of “too many Planned Unit Developments.” An attempt by the group to place a moratorium on those developments was deemed potentially illegal and dropped. More recently, at the behest of the Planning Commission, an amendment to the current PUD ordinance was drafted which includes substantial requirements for potential developments that would, in our opinion, severely limit the number of such projects.
The Chamber opposes this ordinance amendment, believing it will unfairly hamper business interests.
Click here to read why the Carmel Chamber opposed this ordinance.
Carmel Redevelopment Commission Update
Approximately a year ago, an ordinance that required City Council approval of Carmel Redevelopment Commission (CRC) expenditures passed with a vote of six to one. Then late last year, the CRC’s bond debt was refinanced. Most recently, members of the CRC, City Council and Carmel City Center Development Corporation met for a group discussion to share priorities and projects.
BusinessNOW will keep you updated regarding this vital element of our Carmel business community through this newsletter and updates through our social media pages. Follow us on Facebook for frequent updates.
Notes from the Statehouse
The Carmel Chamber has been closely monitoring the current session of the Indiana Legislature. Two bills of particular interest and impact:
- House Bill (HB) 1011 allowing Marion and surrounding counties to place on the 2014 ballot the question whether to join the proposed transit system and gain the authority to provide dedicated funding with a County Option Income Tax of up to 0.3 percent.
- Senate Bill (SB) 189 proposes allowing defined "high-performing school districts" to be given some of the same leeway in requirements given to charter schools.
Both the Carmel Chamber and the Hamilton County Business Issues Committee support HB 1011 and SB 189.
Click here to read why.
All-County Luncheon Talks Urban Revitalization
Last spring’s first-ever all-county Chamber Luncheon drew a record crowd of more than 400 to hear Executive Director of Southern Growth Policies Board Ted Abernathy talk about collaboration.
“Urban Revitalization” will be the topic for the 2013 All-County Chamber Luncheon on April 17 at The Mansion at Oak Hill. Tom Murphy, Senior Resident Fellow at the Urban Land Institute and former Mayor of Pittsburgh, will share his unique insight on urban revitalization.
Click here to learn more about Murphy, the Urban Land Institute or to register for the luncheon.
Company Expansions, Relocations Favor Carmel Business Climate
The last 30 days have been full of positive indications regarding Carmel's business friendly climate and growing workforce. Among them, automotive financial services provider, NextGear Capital; Polleo Systems, Inc., a cloud computing a strategic technology servicer; auto insurer GEICO and Baldwin & Lyons, Inc., one of the largest property and casualty insurance companies based in Indiana.
Read more here.