MICKEY MAURER Commentary: A fresh start for this IEDC alum

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I’m back.

My last regular column appeared in the Indianapolis Business Journal on Jan. 3, 2005. In that column, I announced that I had accepted a twoyear hitch with the Daniels administration as president of the Indiana Economic Development Corp. and that columns would be suspended during my tenure with the state. The editors at IBJ felt that writing a column would pose a conflict of interest with my new responsibilities, and I agreed. It was a good thing; I did not have time to do justice to this space.

Thank you to those readers who over the last two years mentioned that they missed reading me, especially the subscriber who wrote, “One of the reasons I love your column is because your vocabulary is so limited I can understand every word that you say.”

Giving up writing for IBJ was a difficult sacrifice, so I am pleased to announce that this column will now return on a biweekly basis. I have missed our dialogue and look forward to re-establishing that communication.

The question most asked of me is, “Why?.” Why did I interrupt an active business career to spend two years with the IEDC for $1 a year? It is because I love Indiana and feel a strong obligation to contribute in a meaningful way to our community and the state. This special place has made it possible for my family and me to prosper and enjoy a high quality of life. I could have written a check, but I wanted my contribution to be meaningful. Perhaps the answer for me is found in the Jewish concept of tikkun olam. Tikkun olam instructs us to make the world a better place.

With that in mind, shortly after the election, I met with newly elected Gov. Mitch Daniels in his small transition office on East Washington Street to discuss how I could be helpful to his administration.

In those cramped and sweaty temporary accommodations, with aides fussing about, he looked frustrated and harried when he said, “Indiana has a lot more problems than I thought. How about taking over the Bureau of Motor Vehicles?”

This was carrying the concept of tikkun olam a little too far. I immediately accepted his next offer, which was to serve as president of the IEDC. Later, I was appointed secretary of commerce.

The experience was enriching. When you contribute your time and energy, you inevitably receive a commensurate return. Over the last two years, I was privileged to work at what I enjoy most-negotiating and closing business deals. I was treated to a steep learning curve that included an understanding of the state’s economic development programs and policies, lessons in politics (dearly learned), and a better understanding of international rules of engagement.

I could fill Conseco Fieldhouse with the Hoosier friends I have made. It has been an honor to work with mayors, state legislators, and other government and economic development officials throughout Indiana. I have enjoyed interaction with official and private citizens from many countries with investments in Indiana. I look forward to lasting friendships with those with whom I worked at the IEDC and in the Daniels administration. I have a deep appreciation of their intelligence, creativity, energy and loyalty.

I am buoyed by the psychological lift of knowing that our team has executed our business plan and has been recognized many times for jobs well done. To the extent there were any sacrifices made the last two years, I can assure you they were worth the effort and I have confidently placed the experience on the plus side of the ledger.

Nonetheless, it is wonderful to be able to resume the life I led, much richer from the experience and with renewed energy to try to write something worthwhile every two weeks.

I’m glad I’m back.

Maurer is a shareholder in IBJ Corp., which owns the Indianapolis Business Journal. To comment on this column, send e-mail to mmaurer@ibj.comor go to IBJ Forum at www.ibj.com.

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