Fishers voters to pass judgment on growth strategy

February 24, 2014
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In many ways, Fishers’ first city election will be a referendum on the Hamilton County community’s current economic development strategy.

As I reported in the print edition of IBJ this week, the six Republicans vying to be mayor don’t agree on the best way to handle growth. The central point of debate: whether the burgeoning suburb should be using public resources to encourage private development. (Subscribers can read the story here.)

After decades of discussing ways to build a vibrant civic square, town leaders last year began investing in efforts to spur business activity downtown.

Fishers is contributing land and some funding for public infrastructure for four high-profile construction projects, and the town has offered financial incentives to keep existing businesses (and their employees) in place.

Town Council President John Weingardt praised the recent economic development efforts during his State of the Town speech last week.

“We’ve got a lot of great stuff to talk about,” he told a crowd of about 300 at a Fishers Chamber of Commerce luncheon. “We’ve made significant strides.”

The seven-member council set out last year to create a thriving, financially sustainable community. To do that, Weingardt said, officials worked on building a comprehensive economic development strategy and a strong sense of community while providing “world-class” infrastructure and efficient municipal services.

Opponents of the current strategy say fast-growing Fishers was doing just fine before it started subsidizing development.

What happens next depends in large part on the outcome of this year’s election. Residents voted in 2012 to make Fishers a second-class city with an elected mayor and nine-person City Council. Now, the council calls the shots.

What’s your take on the economic development debate? Should Fishers try to influence business investment or wait for developers to make the first move?

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  1. If I were a developer I would be looking at the Fountain Square and Fletcher Place neighborhoods instead of Broad Ripple. I would avoid the dysfunctional BRVA with all of their headaches. It's like deciding between a Blackberry or an iPhone 5s smartphone. BR is greatly in need of updates. It has become stale and outdated. Whereas Fountain Square, Fletcher Place and Mass Ave have become the "new" Broad Ripples. Every time I see people on the strip in BR on the weekend I want to ask them, "How is it you are not familiar with Fountain Square or Mass Ave? You have choices and you choose BR?" Long vacant storefronts like the old Scholar's Inn Bake House and ZA, both on prominent corners, hurt the village's image. Many business on the strip could use updated facades. Cigarette butt covered sidewalks and graffiti covered walls don't help either. The whole strip just looks like it needs to be power washed. I know there is more to the BRV than the 700-1100 blocks of Broad Ripple Ave, but that is what people see when they think of BR. It will always be a nice place live, but is quickly becoming a not-so-nice place to visit.

  2. I sure hope so and would gladly join a law suit against them. They flat out rob people and their little punk scam artist telephone losers actually enjoy it. I would love to run into one of them some day!!

  3. Biggest scam ever!! Took 307 out of my bank ac count. Never received a single call! They prey on new small business and flat out rob them! Do not sign up with these thieves. I filed a complaint with the ftc. I suggest doing the same ic they robbed you too.

  4. Woohoo! We're #200!!! Absolutely disgusting. Bring on the congestion. Indianapolis NEEDS it.

  5. So Westfield invested about $30M in developing Grand Park and attendance to date is good enough that local hotel can't meet the demand. Carmel invested $180M in the Palladium - which generates zero hotel demand for its casino acts. Which Mayor made the better decision?

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