Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

January 21, 2014

MAUREEN HAYDEN: Biz owner says state tax hard on small shops

$5,000 a year 'big hit' for Anderson man

Six years ago, Nate Richard-son was launching a company from an old ambulance owned by his business partner and taking meetings at a library near his home.

Now the Marine veteran counts the Indiana Pacers and Walt Disney Resorts among his customers. His product: A non-toxic agent that kills, then protects against, antibiotic-resistant super-bugs. The Pacers use his stuff to guard against the potentially deadly staph infections that have taken root in some NBA and NFL locker rooms — and other places where sweaty people gather.

Those super-bugs, spreading in number, are a growth industry for Richardson, an Indiana native who left home after graduating from Indiana State University. He moved back to launch his business, now in the Flagship Enterprise Center, a business incubator in Anderson that grows advanced manufacturing start-ups.

Last year, Richardson sealed his commitment to the city when he pulled his company’s bottling and packaging lines out of Illinois and Wisconsin, where they’d been outsourced, to bring them home to Anderson.

His is the story Indiana boosters like to tell, which is why he was in the audience at Gov. Mike Pence’s State of the State speech last week. The governor invited him there to be the human face of an ambitious plan to eliminate the business personal property tax.

Pence needs the help. His plan has met with mighty resistance from local government and school officials fearful of losing a $1 billion revenue stream that springs from the tax.

Legislative leaders have offered watered-down proposals to begin phasing out the tax. A House bill would give counties the option of eliminating the tax on all new business equipment. A Senate bill would eliminate the tax for small businesses, cut the corporate income tax, and set up a blue-ribbon commission to study the matter.

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