It’s been said that “Decisions are made by those who show up.” As Indianapolis business leaders, we are obliged to show up for equity and inclusion, against policies that make it more difficult for our employees, customers, colleagues and neighbors to show up, speak out, and support our city’s comeback.
Efforts at the Statehouse to stifle local priorities – in public safety, transit, housing and more – will stall growth by diminishing the contributions of residents who feel isolated from jobs, unsafe in their neighborhoods, limited by housing and transportation options.
To rebuild our job market, we have to reconnect people and employment with accessible transit and affordable housing. To restore safety, we have to restore trust between police and the community they serve. But there are proposals in the General Assembly to take away local oversight of law enforcement, overrule local housing regulations and overturn a popular mandate for mass transit.
If people are left out of the economy, they can’t participate in its recovery. And we need everyone’s efforts as our city is being tested in unprecedented ways.
A deadly pandemic has claimed the lives of thousands of Hoosiers, closed schools and businesses, disrupted every part of our daily lives. Marion County accounts for more than one of every four dollars of Indiana’s economic output, and our density of people and employment made us especially vulnerable to COVID. We’ve seen poverty spread along with the virus, driving violent crime higher across the nation.
Indianapolis isn’t immune to these trends. Public safety was a priority before COVID, but seeing crime surge along with the hardships of 2020 is a tragic reminder to focus on the social and economic causes of violence. As in healthcare, prevention is more effective than triage.
Indianapolis also isn’t untouched by civil unrest and protests against systemic racism. We don’t have all the answers. Neither do our elected officials. But we’re certain solutions are more likely to be found by listening to those closest to the issues at hand and working together. This confidence is founded in an Indianapolis tradition of civic collaboration.
The public, private and philanthropic sectors united to transform the ‘Indy-a-no-place’ of the 1960s to a championship sports capitol and host for major events. We reached beyond county borders to regionalize economic development and target high-wage, advanced industry growth. Indianapolis shook off Rust Belt inertia to outpace most of our Midwestern peers in population and job creation since 2000.
And over the last decade, local businesses helped rally support for mass transit, endorsed by voters at the ballot box with an overwhelming referendum victory in 2016. Today, IndyGo’s plans for expanded transit are becoming a reality – and service connecting people, employers and neighborhoods continues to be crucial for a more resilient, post-COVID economy.
The state has often been another partner in progress: Allowing the capture and reinvestment of local revenues to revitalize downtown. Funding science and technology education and workforce initiatives that pay off for the state’s largest high-tech economy. Working hand-in-hand on major business attraction projects. Authorizing referenda to allow local taxpayers to have a say financing local priorities. And so on.
The relationship between state and local health officials through COVID offers another example, recognizing the value of following the data and empowering local decision-making.
But a recent pattern of legislative proposals attacks local control in ways that would slow our economic recovery and risk long-term progress on public safety. For example, new mandates on IndyGo that effectively dismiss the results of a countywide pro-transit referendum in an effort to stop plans for cross-county rapid transit service.
Or overriding the Governor’s veto of legislation overturning local ordinances on renter-landlord relations. By undermining practical transit and reasonable housing close to employment centers, these moves would keep more residents away from work and living in poverty – conditions where crime will flourish.
And crime will stubbornly persist without a partnership between police and citizens. A state takeover of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department would rob our citizens of oversight and ability to hold local policymakers accountable. It would further fracture the relationship between police and the community, making their jobs even more challenging.
As employers, we don’t claim a special privilege to speak for the people of Indianapolis. But we are invested in the success of our city, which continues to be the engine of Indiana’s economy. Imposing heavy-handed limits on local authority would stall our ability to drive Indiana forward.
David S. Graziosi, President & CEO, Allison Transmission
Beth Keyser, President, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Indiana
Darrianne Christian, BCforward
Justin Christian, President & CEO, BCforward
Marshawn Wolley, CEO, Black Onyx Management
Jennifer Dzwonar, Partner, Borshoff
Douglas R. Brown, Principal, Bose Public Affairs
Jeff Gaither, Managing Partner, Bose McKinney & Evans
Greg Jacoby, President, Browning Day
John F. Hirschman, President & CEO, Browning Investment
James M. Danko, President, Butler University
Patty Prosser, Co-Founder, The Center for Leadership Excellence
Bryan Mills, President & CEO, Community Health Network
Rev. David W. Greene, Sr., President, Concerned Clergy of Indianapolis
Stephen L. Corbitt, President & CEO, CorGroup, LLC
Rajan Gajaria, EVP Global Business Platforms, Corteva
Gerry Bailey, President, Corvano, LLC
Drew Linn, CEO, Counterpart
Marya Rose, Vice President & Chief Administrative Officer, Cummins Inc.
James B. Connor, Chairman & CEO, Duke Realty
Jeffrey Simmons, President & CEO, Elanco Animal Health
Lisa Schlehuber, CEO, Elements Financial
Dave Ricks, Chairman & CEO, Eli Lilly and Company
Gordon James Brooks, Chief Procurement Officer & CFO Bio-Medicines, Eli Lilly and Company
Jeff Smulyan, Chairman & CEO, Emmis Communications
Tammy B. Robinson, Managing Principal, Engaging Solutions
Philip G. Kenney, CEO, F.A. Wilhelm Construction
Brian K. Brenner, Founder & CEO, First Person, Inc.
Eric Gershman, Principal, Gershman Partners
Andrew Appel, President & CEO, Gregory & Appel Insurance
Kelly Pfledderer, CEO, Haywire
Denise J. Herd, President, Herd Strategies
Tanya McKinzie, President & CEO, Indiana Black Expo
Marlene Dotson, President & CEO, Indiana Latino Institute
Moira Carlstedt, President & CEO, Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership
Tony Mason, President & CEO, Indianapolis Urban League
Michael Huber, President & CEO, Indy Chamber
Dennis Murphy, President & CEO, IU Health
Aman Brar, CEO, Jobvite
Michael J. Jones, President & CEO, Lauth Group, Inc.
J. A. Lacy, President & CEO, LDI, Ltd.
Yvonne Shaheen, retired CEO, Long Electric Co., Inc.
John M. Mutz, former Lt. Governor
Kristin Mays-Corbitt, President & CEO, Mays Chemical Company
Michael Grubb, President of Construction, The MDC Group
Michael F. Petrie, Chairman & CEO, Merchants Bancorp
Audrey Taylor, CEO & Partner, netlogx
Nick Taylor, Partner, netlogx
John McDonald, Managing Entrepreneur, NEXT Studios
Deborah D. Oatts, President & CEO, Nubian Transportation Management, Nubian Construction Group
Nathan E. Oatts, President & CEO, Oatts Trucking, Inc.
J. Scott Davison, Chairman, President & CEO, OneAmerica
Rick Fuson, President/COO, Pacers Sports & Entertainment
Connie Bond Stuart, Regional President for Central & Southern Indiana, PNC Bank
Mamon Powers, President & CEO, Powers & Sons Construction
Matt Sause, President & CEO, Roche Diagnostics North America
Melissa St. John, CEO/Owner, Relocation Strategies
Billie Dragoo, CEO, RepuCare
Jill Rose, President, Rowland Design
Syam Nair, EVP of Software Engineering, Salesforce
Sarah K. Hempstead, CEO, Schmidt & Associates
Kevin Hunt, President & COO, Shiel Sexton
Paula Moan, Market President, Stock Yards Bank and Trust
Ann D. Murtlow, President & CEO, United Way of Central Indiana
Derrick Stewart, President & CEO, YMCA of Greater Indianapolis