It’s been said that “decisions are made by those who show up.” As Indianapolis business leaders, we are obliged to show up for equity and inclusion, against policies that make it more difficult for our employees, customers, colleagues and neighbors to show up, speak out, and support our city’s comeback.
Efforts at the Statehouse to stifle local priorities—in public safety, transit, housing and more—will stall growth by diminishing the contributions of residents who feel isolated from jobs, unsafe in their neighborhoods, limited by housing and transportation options.
To rebuild our job market, we have to reconnect people and employment with accessible transit and affordable housing. To restore safety, we have to restore trust between police and the community they serve. But there are proposals in the General Assembly to take away local oversight of law enforcement, overrule local housing regulations and overturn a popular mandate for mass transit.
If people are left out of the economy, they can’t participate in its recovery. And we need everyone’s efforts as our city is being tested in unprecedented ways.
A deadly pandemic has claimed the lives of thousands of Hoosiers, closed schools and businesses, disrupted every part of our daily lives. Marion County accounts for more than $1 of every $4 of Indiana’s economic output, and our density of people and employment made us especially vulnerable to COVID. We’ve seen poverty spread along with the virus, driving violent crime higher across the nation.
Indianapolis isn’t immune to these trends. Public safety was a priority before COVID, but seeing crime surge along with the hardships of 2020 is a tragic reminder to focus on the social and economic causes of violence. As in health care, prevention is more effective than triage.
Indianapolis also isn’t untouched by civil unrest and protests against systemic racism. We don’t have all the answers. Neither do our elected officials. But we’re certain solutions are more likely to be found by listening to those closest to the issues at hand and working together. This confidence is founded in an Indianapolis tradition of civic collaboration.
The public, private and philanthropic sectors united to transform the “Indy-a-no-place” of the 1960s to a championship sports capital and host for major events. We reached beyond county borders to regionalize economic development and target high-wage, advanced-industry growth. Indianapolis shook off Rust Belt inertia to outpace most of our Midwestern peers in population and job creation since 2000.
And over the last decade, local businesses helped rally support for mass transit, endorsed by voters at the ballot box with an overwhelming referendum victory in 2016. Today, IndyGo’s plans for expanded transit are becoming a reality—and service connecting people, employers and neighborhoods continues to be crucial for a more resilient, post-COVID economy.
The state has often been another partner in progress: Allowing the capture and reinvestment of local revenues to revitalize downtown. Funding science and technology education and workforce initiatives that pay off for the state’s largest high-tech economy. Working hand-in-hand on major business attraction projects. Authorizing referenda to allow local taxpayers to have a say financing local priorities. And so on.
The relationship between state and local health officials through COVID offers another example, recognizing the value of following the data and empowering local decision making.
But a recent pattern of legislative proposals attacks local control in ways that would slow our economic recovery and risk long-term progress on public safety. For example, new mandates on IndyGo that effectively dismiss the results of a countywide pro-transit referendum in an effort to stop plans for cross-county rapid transit service.
Or overriding the governor’s veto of legislation overturning local ordinances on renter-landlord relations. By undermining practical transit and reasonable housing close to employment centers, these moves would keep more residents away from work and living in poverty—conditions where crime will flourish.
And crime will stubbornly persist without a partnership between police and citizens. A state takeover of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department would rob our citizens of oversight and ability to hold local policymakers accountable. It would further fracture the relationship between police and the community, making their jobs even more challenging.
As employers, we don’t claim a special privilege to speak for the people of Indianapolis. But we are invested in the success of our city, which continues to be the engine of Indiana’s economy. Imposing heavy-handed limits on local authority would stall our ability to drive Indiana forward.
David S. Graziosi, Allison Transmission president and CEO
Beth Keyser, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Indiana president
Darrianne Christian, BCforward co-founder
Justin Christian, BCforward president and CEO
Marshawn Wolley, Black Onyx Management CEO
Jennifer Dzwonar, Borshoff partner
Douglas R. Brown, Bose Public Affairs principal
Jeff Gaither, Bose McKinney & Evans managing partner
Greg Jacoby, Browning Day president
John F. Hirschman, Browning Investment president and CEO
James M. Danko, Butler University president
Patty Prosser, The Center for Leadership Excellence co-founder
Bryan Mills, Community Health Network president and CEO
Rev. David W. Greene Sr., Concerned Clergy of Indianapolis president
Stephen L. Corbitt, CorGroup LLC president and CEO
Rajan Gajaria, Corteva executive vice president of global business platforms
Gerry Bailey, Corvano LLC president
Drew Linn, Counterpart CEO
Marya Rose, Cummins Inc. vice president and chief administrative officer
James B. Connor, Duke Realty chairman and CEO
Jeffrey Simmons, Elanco Animal Health CEO and president
Lisa Schlehuber, Elements Financial CEO
Dave Ricks, Eli Lilly and Co. chairman and CEO
Gordon James Brooks, Eli Lilly and Co. chief procurement officer and chief financial officer of bio-medicines
Jeff Smulyan, Emmis Communications chairman and CEO
Tammy B. Robinson, Engaging Solutions managing principal
Philip G. Kenney, F.A. Wilhelm Construction CEO
Brian K. Brenner, First Person Inc. CEO and founder
Eric Gershman, Gershman Partners principal
Andrew Appel, Gregory & Appel Insurance CEO and president
Kelly Pfledderer, Haywire CEO
Denise J. Herd, Herd Strategies president
Tanya McKinzie, Indiana Black Expo CEO and president
Marlene Dotson, Indiana Latino Institute CEO and president
Moira Carlstedt, Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership CEO and president
Tony Mason, Indianapolis Urban League, CEO and president
Michael Huber, Indy Chamber CEO and president
Dennis Murphy, Indiana University Health CEO and president
Aman Brar, Jobvite CEO
Michael J. Jones, Lauth Group Inc. CEO and president
J.A. Lacy, LDI Ltd. CEO and president
Yvonne Shaheen, retired Long Electric Co. Inc. CEO
John M. Mutz, former lieutenant governor
Kristin Mays-Corbitt, Mays Chemical Co. CEO and president
Michael Grubb, The MDC Group president of construction
Michael F. Petrie, Merchants Bancorp chairman and CEO
Audrey Taylor, Netlogx CEO and partner
Nick Taylor, Netlogx partner
John McDonald, NEXT Studios managing entrepreneur
Deborah D. Oatts, Nubian Transportation Management, Nubian Construction Group, CEO and president
Nathan E. Oatts, Oatts Trucking Inc. CEO and president
- Scott Davison, OneAmerica chairman, CEO and president
Rick Fuson, Pacers Sports & Entertainment president and chief operating officer
Connie Bond Stuart, PNC Bank regional president for Central & Southern Indiana
Mamon Powers, Powers & Sons Construction CEO and president
Matt Sause, Roche Diagnostics North America CEO and president
Melissa St. John, Relocation Strategies CEO and owner
Billie Dragoo, RepuCare CEO
Jill Rose, Rowland Design
Syam Nair, Salesforce executive vice president of software engineering
Sarah K. Hempstead, Schmidt & Associates CEO
Kevin Hunt, Shiel Sexton president and chief operating officer
Paula Moan, Stock Yards Bank and Trust market president
Ann D. Murtlow, United Way of Central Indiana CEO and president
Derrick Stewart, YMCA of Greater Indianapolis CEO and president