Urban expert lauds Indianapolis for progress

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

If Indianapolis’ business leaders needed a pep talk to shake them from their recessionary funks, they got it Tuesday from an urban affairs expert who says the city is faring better than several others.

Aaron Renn, an Indiana native who writes the popular Urbanophile blog from his home in Chicago, spoke at the Indy Partnership’s annual meeting at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Supporters of the regional economic development organization undoubtedly felt better about their situations after listening to Renn, who grew up in tiny Laconia along the Ohio River.

“Indianapolis is just starting to come into its own as a major American city,” he said. “This city’s best days are ahead of it.”

By comparison, Indianapolis’ Midwestern counterparts mostly are regressing, and Renn brought the statistics to prove his point.

The former partner of the Accenture consultancy said Indianapolis enjoyed population growth of 65,000 residents over the past decade, tops among 11 Midwestern cities. And many of those cities even experienced population declines, he said.

Indianapolis also ranked first in total job growth. From 2001 to 2009, the city experienced net job growth of 17,000, a particularly striking statistic considering the 10 other cities all experienced job losses, Renn said.

Now, he said, it’s time for Indianapolis to start competing against national darlings such as Austin, Texas; Charlotte, N.C.; Nashville, Tenn.; and Portland, Ore.

Indianapolis already stacks up well against Portland, he said. Although the Hoosier capital lags in population growth, it has higher job growth and lower unemployment than its Oregonian rival.

“If you want to sip lattes by the light-rail system, go to Portland,” Renn said in a light-hearted jab. “But if you want a job, come to Indianapolis.”

A light-rail system in Indianapolis, however, was lauded as a potential “game-changer” by Mark Miles, CEO of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership. He provided a brief overview of the plans at the Indy Partnership’s meeting.

A light-rail system, the midfield terminal at Indianapolis International Airport and the Indianapolis Cultural Trail are examples of what the city needs to help lure more young professionals to the city.

That can be a challenge, Renn acknowledged, because Indianapolis is “flatter than a pancake” and lacks the attractive scenery that mountains and oceans can provide to metropolitan areas.

Partnership CEO Ron Gifford concluded by using a basketball analogy in reference to the NCAA men’s Final Four basketball championship that will be in Indianapolis April 3-5.

Twenty-five years ago, when Gifford moved to the city from San Francisco, Indianapolis might have strived to be the “Cinderella” of the tournament.

But now, Gifford said, “we should be in the Final Four for everything we do.”


  • light rail
    Run light rail from old airport to Washington Square and from Greenwood Mall to Castleton Square. Leave your car in the burbs.
  • Here's how to spur population growth and economic development...
    I think they should convert the old airport into an international terminal. The use of the old airport as an international terminal, will produce more growth of the airport as well as more income to help fund other projects within Marion County. More international would include more of a draw to more international companies, hence more jobs for this state, county and surrounding counties. If we want to be considered a "world-class" city, then there needs to be more of an appeal to have more international flair!
  • population growth
    Population growth generally assumes that the city is prospering. For instance, Detroit leads in population decline, while places like Austin or Portland are seing population growth.

    Population growth doesn't alway signal prosperity, but in US where population growth rate is pretty stable and where people migrate easily, it usually translates to good things.
  • Which is it?
    Is Renn a blogger or an expert? I always thought he was a blogger.

    What are his credentials and job experience within the field for which he blogs? Just curious.
  • Stats
    Job growth, great. Light rail, got it. But why is population growth assumed to be a positive?
  • Raising the Bar
    Renn emphasized that being tops in the Midwest is not an award we want to rest our laurels on. Reading his, blog he constantly challenges every community to be the best it can be and set the standards as high as possible. Suburbs and Indy need each other to take the Metro Area to the next level.

Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Good Day I am Mr (Victoria Wright) from United state of America, i stayed in NEW YORK, and i have a broke up business, until i found this company email who help me to gain a loan for business,, and now i want to used this short medium to congratulate the below company for the fast and safe money they loan to me without any form of collateral, i loan 500,000USD from the company to save my business and lots more, i saw their mail on the internet, everyone always give testimony for what they did, so i quickly contacted them and they all did everything for me without stress and my money was sent to my account just 3 days later, i was surprise and i feel so glad, now i have a standard business control agent who help me, now i will advice those who need urgent loan to contact him at the bellow email:zenithfirm12@gmail.com

  2. NOTICE:This is to inform the general public that Vampires are real. My name is James Franklyn.,am an agent of vampire,am here to introduce our new world trend to you,a world of vampire where life get easier,we have made so many persons vampires and have turned them rich,you will be assured long life and prosperity,you shall be made to be very sensitive to mental alertness,stronger and also very fast,you will not be restricted to walking at night only even at the very middle of broad day light you will be made to walk.In case you are wildly oppressed by some unscrupulous persons we can still help you fight them.Your protection is assured immediately you join.Just contact the bellow email if you are interested we are here to attend to you anytime you want us. Contact the bellow email for more details. Email:vampirescreed@hotmail.com Sincerely: James Franklyn.

  3. Bravo! Someone else that is willing to speak the truth! Bravo!_____NBCSN is available in almost 2 MILLION more homes than just a few years ago, but Indycar STILL gets less total viewers than it did just a few years ago when NBC took over Versus. Attendance and ratings cratered with the end of season races (just when the title battle got "interesting" HAH!__________And now...new race in Basilia, where Miles celebrated the "rich history" of Indycar racing there. Rich history? What, 7 events in the 100 years of AOW? Yep, some history. Well, at least its an oval. It's not??? Are you kidding me??? Gosh darn road racin furriners.

  4. PURITY RAY LOAN OFFER........ Have you been denied by your banks,or are you in need of of an urgent loan to pay of your bills we are capable of giving loans @ cheaper rate to interested individuals, student, companies and members of the public in need of finance to settle bills, we do offer considerable loans which you can count on. For more information on our various types of loan,then you will have to contact PURITY RAY LOAN FIRM, to help you achieve your desire LOAN APPLICATION FORM TO BE FILLED BORROWERS INFORMATION * Full name:………………………. * SEX * ……………………………. * Country………………………….. * State:……………………………. * Land:…………………………….. * Occupation:…………………….. * phone number:…………………. * Telephone: ………………………….. * Age:………………………………. * Amount needed as loan:……… * Loan Duration:………………….. * Propose of Loan:……………….. * Annual revenue:………………… * Monthly Income:……………….. * Guarantee:………………………. * Payment: monthly or annually Email.....purityrayloanfirm@gmail.com Thank you and God bless Mr Purity Ray PURITY RAY LOAN FIRM we tend to serve you better

  5. Problem: most of the people responding to this article don't know about this service AT ALL! Why? Lack of awareness. This isn't IndyGo. This is CIRTA: might as well be the mattress company because they are asleep at the wheel - something like 3 directors over the last year? Playing with federal grant money is great! This "region" wants commuter rail service, has spent MILLIONS on Transportation studies yet can't even support a commuter bus line? This is largely for suburban riders to get to downtown - not for "service people to work in our hotels and restaurants" ! Get your head out of your backside!! These are professionals, students etc. that don't want to fight traffic, save some money on parking, gas, stress.... if CIRTA would put their federal money into widely promoting the sevive to Greenwood, Fishers & Carmel instead of finding directors and studies - this would be a successful service. Our family uses(d) it daily for the last several years - but the recent uncertainty & now unreliability due to cuts from Carmel has been a problem. Now, costs us an additional $350/month for gas & parking ( $4200/year) plus vehicle wear, service, environmental impact ... YES - this REGION needs this this type of service in order to keep growing and getting the people it needs to fill skilled positions in downtown Indianapolis. Think outside of your own car !!!