Friday, December 16, 2011

Business Pushing for Annexation in Clarksville Indiana

HARBESON: ‘Clarksville’ company cashing in any way it can

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — Usually, when I see the word annexation in the news, the story is about a government entity extending their boundaries to neighboring property owners without their consent. But last week a local business, Rivera Consulting Group, actually requested annexation from the town of Clarksville. NOTE: If you click on the link, scroll down to the "Business Expansion" section.

Why would a business want a local government to annex property they plan to use for expansion? The only logical reason is to receive special government favors. However, I’m unclear at this point as to what the town of Clarksville might be offering.

I know the Indiana Economic Development Corporation has already offered this company $1.1 million in tax credits if they meet specific job creation goals. So maybe the annexation is just a necessary step required by the state and the town is not offering any additional government handouts.

It seems strange that the company is out promoting a move to Clarksville as if all the steps have already been completed. Clearly that’s not the case because the town of Clarksville does not have power or control over the property in question and has yet to present or vote on an annexation ordinance.

Yet Rivera Consulting Group President, Dr. Joey Rivera, has stated that Clarksville was “very aggressive” in keeping the company local and thanked them for their support as he announced the company’s move to Clarksville. On land that isn’t currently in Clarksville.

All of this increased my curiosity about Rivera Consulting Group. A company that promotes a move to Clarksville before the land is yet to be controlled by Clarksville must know a lot about working with governments.

And they do. This company specializes in U.S. Department of Defense software applications and has gained several specific designations that help push them to the front of the pack for certain types of government contracts. The federal government has to “set-aside” and award a certain percentage of contracts to specific groups of people.

Rivera Consulting Group has managed to collect quite a few of these designations, including: Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB), Veteran-owned and Service-disabled, 8(a) certification, and HUBZone certification. These designations are all meant to give preferential treatment to businesses based on demographics, as opposed to merit.

There are many questionable practices that go along with such designations, one of the more controversial being a price evaluation adjustment, which means that a designated company could bid 10 percent higher than a non-designated competitor and still get the contract.

I am also troubled by the company’s mission statement which is presented on their website as a direct quote from Rivera:

“Our country is at war. Our Mission is to provide sound guidance and expertise to our government customer in a time when technical expertise makes a difference. We are ready to stand side-by-side with our customers as we support the war-fighter. We are ready.”

Remember the column I wrote in October about Indiana’s push to attract federal defense spending and promote businesses that are healthiest during times of war? It appears that this whole setup is another local example of that policy in action.

I can’t really blame this company for taking advantage of the special demographic designations if they meet the requirements. It’s perfectly rational for a company to go after them if it can. Of course, I’m assuming they didn’t have anything to do with the slimy political manipulation that created those programs.

However, is it wise to actively work for new government action, like the pursuit of this annexation, in order to gain even more government benefits? After all, by doing so, this company is actively working to force others to subsidize their growth so they can continue to cash in on war.

Clark County resident Debbie Harbeson invites reader response, but you should know she gives preferential treatment to specially designated groups.

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