This past year was one of the most active and successful in our city’s history. We pushed through legislation to fund an expansion of the Indiana Convention Center and build a new multi-purpose stadium, both of which will be tremendous boons to our region’s economy, pumping in more than $2.25 billion in investment and creating more than 4,200 permanent jobs over the next 10 years. In addition, through the leadership of the governor and legislature, a one-of-a-kind regional funding solution was found to help pay for the new stadium.
We also had a comprehensive, yearlong discussion about government reform, a topic that doesn’t often see the light of day. As a result of that debate, our City-County Council passed a historic measure to merge the Indianapolis Police Department and the Marion County Sheriff’s Department. This move will create efficiencies and ensure better public safety throughout our city, as well as save millions in taxpayer dollars to help shore up a broken public safety budget.
There also was progress in advancing our life sciences economy, an effort led by BioCrossroads, the region’s life sciences advocate. Advances included establishing the city’s second certified technology park, groundbreakings on the IU Cancer Center expansion and the IU Medical School’s
Research III building, the first graduation from the downtown life sciences incubator, and a new $4 million Indiana Seed Fund.
We s aw j o b s announcements by firms like ExactTarget, Theoris, and Herff Jones. And besides
saving almost 3,000 finance and accounting jobs at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service in Lawrence, we got a commitment for at least 800 more.
Others are noticing-in 2005 Indianapolis was named the 5th-best city to expand or relocate a business by Expansion Management Magazine, and the 5thbest large city for entrepreneurs by Entrepreneur magazine.
Though 2005 was a year of great action and success, several challenges lie ahead. We must build on the past year’s momentum by continuing to grow local companies, reform and improve city government, and build healthy neighborhoods.
Adding jobs and creating, retaining and attracting companies will be top priorities, as always. We will continue to market Indianapolis as a business-friendly, low-tax and innovative community. Look for job growth in targeted industries, such as life
sciences and information technology, advanced manufacturing, logistics and sports, including motorsports.
Downtown will see the opening of the five-star Conrad Hotel, the completion of the Simon world headquarters, the ongoing construction of the Indiana Stadium and the continuing development of new residential opportunities. We will also host the NCAA Men’s Final Four and other one-ofa-kind entertainment opportunities. All of these developments help ensure that the core of our city remains vibrant, which in turn makes the entire city and region stronger and more economically viable.
Our airport has more passenger traffic, more flights with more seats to more destinations than one year ago, including picking up key business markets like Salt Lake City and Seattle-all this despite ATA’s decision to discontinue service here.
This year, you will see this community come together like never before to create one of the finest police departments in the United States. This year, police officers, community and neighborhood leaders, elected officials and the public will have a chance to weigh in on public safety and help ensure a smooth merger of IPD and MCSD. The people of Indianapolis and Marion County will be the real winners in this effort, as public safety will be vastly improved.
We also intend to continue our discussion
of government reform, mainly through the remaining initiatives of Indianapolis Works. Merging the township fire departments into the Indianapolis Fire Department will provide improved countywide fire protection through increased cooperation and efficiencies. Streamlining township government will remove an outdated and inefficient layer of bureaucracy and give taxpayers the 21stcentury government that they deserve.
We will also continue to improve public education by, among other things, giving parents more public school options through mayor-sponsored charter schools. And we’ll move forward on our Blueprint to End Homelessness. As the first city in America to create a 10-year plan to address this pressing issue, we look to continue on the successes we’ve had this year, including last month’s Indy Homeless Connect.
There are many past priorities that we will continue to address, including comprehensive neighborhood development, stepped-up code enforcement and improved neighborhood services, making Indianapolis a cultural destination and focusing on stronger, healthier families.
We look forward to working with the people of our community in 2006 to move Indianapolis forward as a world-class 21stcentury city.
Peterson is mayor of Indianapolis. Peterson