Ballard’s trade missions critical for development

August 24, 2013

I have traveled with Mayor Greg Ballard on several of his international trade missions and believe Louis Mahern [Aug. 5 Forefront] does not appreciate the importance of Indianapolis’ global presence.

Trade missions occur frequently throughout our state with governors, mayors and economic development organizations.

Why? They entice global companies. They also allow business and economic development leaders to better understand global business challenges and how to better coordinate economic development.

Ballard served two decades as a Marine, living across the globe for much of that time. Those years of public service shaped his world view, such that when he returned to Indianapolis, he had the vision of making our great city a competitor in the global economy.

This perspective helps local companies grow internationally while recruiting companies to do business here. This takes years of laying a foundation, building relationships and introducing Indianapolis to the world.

Our business community recognizes the value of these initiatives and has enthusiastically shown its support by providing funds to carry out an international business development plan. No city money is used—private citizens give their time and financial support.

Indianapolis’ international profile has risen considerably. Ballard has met with more than 55 companies and dozens of trade associations and chambers of commerce, and has built relationships with government officials who impact many of these trade and investment decisions.

He has been interviewed by journalists all over the world, touting our great city. These relationships and media coverage are vital to keeping Indianapolis top of mind when foreign companies look to expand into the U.S.

On Aug. 1, our city was host to the biggest international soccer match in Indianapolis history, drawing 41,000 fans and 150 credentialed members of the media from five countries.

In June, Bollore announced plans to locate its first fully electric vehicle share program in Indianapolis, the company’s first such venture into the U.S.

Think about that—of all cities in the U.S., Indianapolis was chosen. This program will generate 100 jobs, and is the direct result of international attention generated by Indianapolis raising its international profile.

This and other opportunities never would have occurred had we not invested time and resources to build these relationships.

These are exciting times for Indianapolis. We have committed public servants, business leaders and involved citizens. These trade missions provide high-profile opportunities and much-needed international exposure so we can promote Indianapolis to the world.

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Melissa Proffitt Reese, partner
Ice Miller LLP

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