About to embark on his eighth trade mission since 2008, Indinapolis Mayor Greg Ballard is committed to keeping up the city's international profile, regardless of whether that results in a major economic development deal.
"Everybody thinks you need to go over there and bring back 500 jobs or something, Ballard said. "That's not really how things are done."
The second-term mayor will leave Feb. 22 for India on a trip led by Develop Indy, a unit of the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce that serves as the city's economic development agency.
No foreign company has set up operations in Indianapolis as a result of locally organized trade missions, which began in 2008 at Ballard's urging . . ."Exhausting stuff?" Whatever. The story doesn't say who will accompany Ballard on his trip to India, but it's likely the usual suspects. He tells McLaughlin he also has an international trip planned in honor of "veterans and military personnel," but he wouldn't offer details. Like he's important enough to be a target of terrorists.
"You have to look globally if you're going to be a strong city," Ballard said.
He added that overseas travel is not a vacation for him. "It's tiring. Physically, this is exhausting stuff."
Nobody can expect you to create jobs from these trade missions when there is no "there there" behind the trips in the first place other than to provide an excuse for Ballard and his wife to travel and spend lavishly overseas at someone else's expense while his traveling companions pick his brain for ways of picking the city's pockets. The typical flacks weighed in to support Ballard's junkets. McLaughlin had to find an out-of-state consultant to criticize them. Atlanta-based consultant Mike Gomez tells McLaughlin that Ballard should have attracted at least one or more small firms to locate in Indianapolis, if not a larger business after four years of traveling the world.
McLaughlin asked Develop Indy to provide information on its total international travel expenditures, but it failed to provide that information to her before her story's deadline. She'll probably have as much luck getting straight information on that request as Councilor Brian Mahern has been having in his efforts to obtain information from the CIB and the City on the value of free tickets doled out and entertainment dollars spent on events held at Lucas Oil Stadium and Banker's Life Fieldhouse during Colts and Pacers games. Her story notes that the city provides Develop Indy with $1.5 million annually in funding, although Develop Indy insists it raises all of the money for its international trips from private sources. City taxpayers pick up the tab for the travel expenses of IMPD police officers who provide personal security to the Mayor when he travels outside the city, even though nobody has a clue who the goofball is outside of Indianapolis. Those travel expenses have cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.