Kennedy Campaign Blasts LiTEBOX Announcement

Challenger: Jobs Announcement Designed To Give Ballard Boost

The campaign of Indianapolis mayoral hopeful Melina Kennedy on Thursday blasted incumbent Mayor Greg Ballard for his involvement in a jobs announcement some contend is on shaky ground.

Ballard joined Gov. Mitch Daniels and Bob Yanagihara, founder of LiTEBOX Inc., Wednesday in announcing that more than 1,000 jobs could be coming within the next couple of years.

California-based LiTEBOX plans to build a 125,000-square-foot manufacturing factory on a vacant lot at West 84th Street and Bearing Drive.

Since the announcement, some have questioned the backing, stability and business plan of the company, which plans to produce large mobile video screens to be sold for $3 million per unit.

"It seems clear the announcement was hastily put together to give the mayor a political boost two weeks before the municipal election," read part of a statement from Jon Mills, communications director for the Kennedy campaign.

The company was offered $11 million in city and state tax abatement and training grants, all based on the company’s job creation plans.

"Many questions remain about Litebox and about the appropriateness of the city’s offer of taxpayer resources for this deal," Kennedy's campaign said.

The deal is structured so that the company doesn't get the incentives if it doesn't follow through on its job plans.

Several companies over the last few years have been forced to pay back tax abatements, including Navistar and Trilithic, because jobs promises weren't met, the Department of Metropolitan Development said.

"Obviously, Melina Kennedy is trying to distract voters from her record of losing over 15,000 jobs in a good economy," said Ballard spokeswoman Molly Deuberry. "Melina Kennedy’s criticism of the day ignores the important fact that the city has absolutely no risk in this project -- there are no city incentives unless the jobs are created."

The LiTEBOX factory is expected to create 900 to 1,000 jobs, while 100 people are expected to be hired at its downtown offices at 146 E. Washington St., Yanagihara said.

The offices are expected to open in December, and the manufacturing facility will be operational in the spring.

Yanagihara said LiTEBOX will begin hiring new associates as construction is completed, including positions in media, marketing, engineering, support and manufacturing.

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