Amy Waggoner: EED is needed to keep downtown Indy vibrant

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If you’ve been downtown to the Mile Square recently, you might have noticed the presence of clean-team members picking up trash, remediating graffiti, power washing sidewalks and being a resource to property owners, workers and visitors.

At Salesforce Tower, we’ve seen and felt the positive impact of these expanded services. This 18-month pilot project, operated by Downtown Indy Inc. with one-time federal American Rescue Plan Act funds provided by the city, is working to help create a cleaner and safer Mile Square.

As a downtown employer, we want to ensure these targeted services continue. That’s why we’re supporting the creation of an economic enhancement district—or EED—to establish a stable and reliable funding source for expanded services unique to the needs of the Mile Square. Like it is for other downtown businesses, this is important to the success of our company, our workforce and our community in Indianapolis.

Salesforce’s Indy presence spans more than a decade. In 2013, Salesforce acquired Indianapolis’ homegrown tech startup success, ExactTarget. Over the last 10 years, we’ve doubled our workforce in Indy with nearly 2,000 employees assigned to Salesforce Tower Indy.

We are proud of our presence downtown and strive to be strong community partners. Our employees have been returning to the office for special events, on-site volunteering and team-connection opportunities. Our own efforts, alongside Downtown Indy Inc.’s safety and cleanliness services, have contributed to employees spending more time in the office. Going forward, it will take both Salesforce’s internal activations and the services that Downtown Indy Inc. provides to continue encouraging our employees to return downtown.

Salesforce has always had a downtown strategy for our office locations, starting with our headquarters in San Francisco and extending to our offices across the United States and the world. We thrive in city centers around the globe where we can get together, embrace all that downtown areas have to offer and be active members of our communities. We aim to support our local communities by encouraging our employees to patronize businesses near our offices and give back. We have a robust volunteer time-off program, and we support local catering companies by partnering with them for events at our community space, the ‘Ohana Floor.

We also understand the unique challenges facing downtown urban centers like the Mile Square, including cleanliness and security. In fact, Indianapolis is the largest central business district in the country without an EED-like mechanism to fund targeted city services to address these needs.

We want to see our Mile Square community thrive and are eager to partner with the city and our fellow downtown employers to invest in the success of the Mile Square through an EED. An EED will fund the continuation of vital services that are working to support property owners and residents, attract more employees back downtown and create a lively Mile Square that’s welcoming to all.

Salesforce was founded on giving back to our communities with our 1-1-1 model. We give 1% of our equity, 1% of our time and 1% of our products back to the community.

Investing in the Mile Square EED is one more way we can embrace our community-focused mission, and we urge the City-County Council to support it.•

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Waggoner is vice president of U.S. state and local government affairs at Salesforce.

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