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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 

 

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