Editorial: Let’s meet Elanco CEO’s challenge

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“We’ve got work to do.”

That was the overarching message from Elanco Animal Health CEO Jeff Simmons during a Jan. 18 speech at the Economic Club of Indiana monthly lunch at the Indiana Convention Center.

“There are many things going right in the city. I want everyone to know that and hear that from me,” Simmons told more than 300 luncheon attendees.

But, he added, the city faces “significant realities” it must tackle to make Indianapolis a destination for talent, companies and innovators.

We agree with the sentiment and the three areas of focus Simmons outlined.

Disrupting “pockets of poverty” downtown and solving homelessness issues.

Forgoing political points to focus on a more inclusive and inviting downtown business and living environment.

Bringing in more downtown attractions focused on cultural and community events and activities.

Simmons stopped short of saying precisely how the city should go about making these things happen, and he spent no time assessing blame.

And certainly, he was not as blunt in his assessment of problems—or their potential impacts—as Eli Lilly and Co. CEO David Ricks was last year when he said at an Economic Club of Indiana luncheon that the state falls short in educational skills, the affordability of health care, robust green-energy policies, workforce development, and inclusion of minorities and immigrants, all areas where other states are far ahead and more competitive.

Simmons was much more focused on the problems and opportunities in the city of Indianapolis than he was on statewide concerns—and he’s interested in downtown in particular.

That makes sense. Elanco is investing some $100 million to build a headquarters campus just west of the White River, adjacent to downtown. Simmons wants that campus to be a destination for employees, scientists and entrepreneurs, the “epicenter of animal health innovation.”

Simmons said at the Economic Club that his company will do more—and he challenged other business leaders to join him.

“We have no time for finger- pointing. We also don’t have time to be too ‘Hoosier nice.’ We have to challenge, we have to be able to … speak directly,” Simmons said. “We need less accolades and a little bit more accountability.”

We couldn’t agree more. And we actually wish Simmons had been a bit more challenging in his speech—more specific. We’re hopeful that is still coming. He promised that Elanco is committed to downtown, that it’s “ready to be a catalyst” and that it has assigned one of the company’s top execs—General Counsel Marcela Kirberger—to be its liaison in working with other companies on city issues.

He challenged other companies to assign executives to help tackle the city’s problems and its future. We hope there are many who take him up on the idea and then work with elected officials to find solutions. It’s the way Indianapolis has traditionally solved its problems, and we think it’s the best way to do so going forward.•


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2 thoughts on “Editorial: Let’s meet Elanco CEO’s challenge

  1. Indianapolis needs a prosecutor who will enforce the laws. Communities that used to be safe are now being invaded by lawlessness that is ignored by IMPD and the prosecutors office. It is frustrating so see this happing – lawlessness can only be contained by enforcement. The goals of the city council are in direct contradiction to making the city safe and encouraging to business and visitors. Its not impossible that companies like Lilly and Elanco will move their headquarters outside of Indy to escape the mess made by the city council and Democrats.

  2. Tony Knows! I Agree. I think when talking about not following “Political” agendas Jeff Simmons knows. We can’t have a downtown core of poverty, homelessness, crime and broken windows which the political left deems “acceptable violence”.