New recommendations aim to broaden access to opportunity for all Indianapolis citizens through a repositioning of current economic development incentive programs

INDIANAPOLIS – Mayor Joe Hogsett, leadership of the Indy Chamber, and community stakeholders gathered today at Ivy Tech Community College to unveil a new roadmap for economic development that prioritizes inclusive growth for all Indianapolis residents. This strategy will reposition existing economic development incentive programs to advance job opportunity for Indianapolis residents and remove barriers to employment – such as childcare, transit, and skills training – that prevent individuals from attaining and retaining good paying jobs.

“It’s no secret that Indianapolis has seen significant growth in the last decade,” said Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett. “But the unfortunate reality is that while many have found success, there has been an 80% increase in poverty in this same timeframe. This is not an acceptable reality, and the strategy and policy recommendations we are releasing today aim to look at our economic development efforts through the lens of equity.”

This inclusive economic development strategy prioritizes four key areas:

  1. Business growth: Increase the quantity and quality of available jobs by encouraging entrepreneurship and supporting business attraction, retention, and expansion activities.
  2. Skills development: Prepare Indy residents for jobs that pay living wages, which includes improved access and quality of K-12 education, adult education, job readiness programs, and post-secondary training programs.
  3. Physical investment: Increase the likelihood of private market investment, including new housing, commercial development, and brownfield redevelopment. Additionally, improve quality of life in distressed areas.
  4. Social capital and support systems: Reduce barriers impeding quality of life, and identify and support community needs including health, transportation, civic engagement, housing, criminal justice reform, and access to childcare.

Using these priority areas and through discussions with numerous stakeholders in business, real estate, and non-profit communities, local leaders enlisted HR&A Advisors to help create policy recommendations to improve inclusive outcomes. These include addressing racial disparities in access to opportunity, leveraging incentives like tax abatements and training grants to achieve broader community benefit, improving access and quality of education, supporting workforce training programs, assisting distressed neighborhoods, and improving access to support services.

“These challenges were not created overnight, and there’s no silver bullet solution to address the current barriers,” notes Angela Smith Jones, deputy mayor of economic development for the City of Indianapolis. “But this strategy allowed us to step back and evaluate several major facets of economic segregation, identify the organizations and initiatives that are already tackling individual hurdles, and make recommendations for future policies and programming.”

The strategy cites numerous organizations and programs that contribute to the broader inclusive ecosystem, providing opportunities to partner and collaborate in a concerted effort to encourage the economic mobility of all Indianapolis residents.

“Over the last several years, the Indy Chamber has worked with The Brookings Institution to better understand the barriers to economic mobility for residents of the Indianapolis region and discuss them with hundreds of community stakeholders,” said Michael Huber, president and CEO of the Indy Chamber. “The strategy released today leverages a tool used for economic development efforts to drive several of the inclusive outcomes we hope to achieve.”

The new inclusive incentives roadmap makes several policy recommendations to modify current processes for the City’s tax abatement and training grant programs. These include implementing average wage minimums for jobs of employers seeking tax abatement, assuring the presence of health benefits for available jobs, assessing community impact of the employer, creating dedicated workforce support funds, expanding the pool of applicants for training grants by lowering the average wage requirement, and more. The roadmap also calls for a comprehensive land strategy that catalogues all publicly-owned properties in Indianapolis and establishes a vision for their repositioning based on highest opportunity.

Today’s announcement is the latest in a broader conversation on inclusive economic growth in Indianapolis. Since taking office, Mayor Hogsett has convened stakeholders to pursue a neighborhood-based economic development strategy, following through on his 2015 commitment to grow the city’s economy without leaving under-appreciated communities behind. Over the last several years, community partners such as the Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF), the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), and the Indy Chamber have worked with city leaders to establish community bench marks, identify gaps in resources, and assess existing tools. This announcement is the next step in Mayor Hogsett’s economic development strategy that aims to bring quality jobs and smart investment to all neighborhoods in Indianapolis, reaching residents in every zip code.

The full strategy released today can be downloaded at https://www.indy.gov/activity/inclusive-economic-growth.