By: Michael Huber, President & CEO, Indy Chamber
It has been a great honor to serve as President of the Indy Chamber over the past year. I’m grateful for the opportunity every day to learn from our members across many different industries, all of whom want to help each other grow and contribute to a growing economy.
As I reflect on my first year of service here at the Indy Chamber I am thrilled with the bold and innovative measures we have taken to better serve our members, our urban core and our region. We have taken swift action on issues that need immediate attention and have laid the groundwork for smart business-minded solutions that will allow our region to thrive for years to come.
- Bold leadership on complex issues. The Indy Chamber has not shied away from controversy over the past year on issues of critical importance to our members and to the regional economy. We were strong advocates for a regional mass transit system. We lobbied against the proposed HJR-3 (formerly HJR-6) marriage amendment to the Indiana constitution. We continue to advocate for a regional, simplified tax revenue system that reflects the way in which our modern, regional economy actually works. When backed by thoughtful analysis and by the business community’s active participation, we will continue to step into the arena and fight for policies that serve our members and improve the region’s economy.
- Significant growth in services to entrepreneurs. Over the past year, the Indy Chamber has significantly grown our resource toolkit for small business owners and launched a comprehensive effort to provide support for entrepreneurs at all stages of business. In the last year alone, our entrepreneur services team served over 850 small business clients through one-on-one business coaching, educational workshops and nearly $561,000 in microloans. In June of this year, we joined Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann in announcing that the Indy Chamber is the new host organization for the Central Indiana Small Business Development Center (C-ISBDC). This partnership essentially consolidated regional small business resources in an effort to better serve our region’s entrepreneurs.
- Selection as a Global Cities Exchange Initiative metropolitan region. Last fall, the Indianapolis region was selected, along with seven other metropolitan areas, for the Global Cities Exchange Initiative a joint project of The Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase. As a result of participating in this program, the Indianapolis region will release a strategic export plan that will set us on the path toward growth both here and on a global scale. This plan is slated to be released in early 2015.
- Hands-on leadership to improve education. Beginning in the fall of 2013, about 50 volunteers from various industries, representing the Indy Chamber, worked closely with the Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) and new Superintendent Dr. Lewis Ferebee on a comprehensive IPS Financial & Operational Analysis. Released in February 2014, the report outlines recommendations that if implemented, could allow IPS to free up millions of operational dollars and steer those resources to the classroom. IPS began implementing many of the recommendations, even before the report was finalized. Additionally, the Indy Chamber has partnered with United Way, PNC, and other collaborators on an economic impact study on expanded early childhood education.
- 2013 Leadership Exchange to Cologne, Germany. After only two weeks on the job, I joined 100 business leaders from Indianapolis on a trip to Cologne, Germany. While there, we studied topics including the German workforce training system, Cologne’s strategic use of the Rhine River as a major transportation corridor, and Cologne’s talent attraction and retention strategies. It was a wonderful four day immersion in the city, and also helped me build relationships with many of our talented industry leaders from Indy.
As an organization, we have great ambition for the Indianapolis region and we still have much work to do. We are a very different Indy Chamber than we were one year ago, and we’ll be a very different Indy Chamber five years from now. With continued engagement from the business community, together, we can and will make a difference in Central Indiana.