Influential person: John Mutz

Business, community and political leader

Though he’s most famously known as Bob Orr’s lieutenant governor, John Mutz has contributed significantly on his own terms to Indianapolis and central Indiana. A former head of Lilly Endowment Inc. and PSI Energy, he also “moonlighted” as a state representative from 1967 to 1970, where he helped fashion the legislation that created both Unigov and IUPUI.

“Lots of people were involved besides me,” Mutz said. “But as a freshman member of the Legislature, and only 30 years old, I couldn’t wait to get out there every day and work on [those projects], even though I had a full-time job.”

He also helped found the not-for-profit Lumina Foundation, lobbied for the state’s charter school law, and was instrumental in establishing White River State Park. But one of his biggest achievements—spearheading a drive to steer millions of dollars of direct foreign investment into Indiana—might have cost him his chance to become Indiana’s governor.

“We moved from six Japanese investments when I took office as lieutenant governor to over 60 when I left office,” Mutz said. “We became the leader among the states, in terms of attracting Japanese direct investment.”

The biggest of those deals was for the Subaru plant in Lafayette. Evan Bayh, who opposed Mutz in the 1988 gubernatorial election, used it (or more precisely, the $55 million in state subsidies used to sweeten the deal) against him in his TV advertising.

“I have a lot of people who claim that I lost the election because of my deep involvement with attracting Japanese investment,” Mutz said. “And there’s a good deal of evidence that this might be true. But I would still do it again.”

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