Nate Feltman: Looking back 40 years and looking forward 40 more

When I met Mickey Maurer in 2004 at Mickey’s Camp, little did I know that one day we would be business partners in IBJ Media. First, we would work side-by-side for two years for the newly created Indiana Economic Development Corp. in an effort to grow Indiana’s economy under Gov. Mitch Daniels.

It was during this time that Mickey impressed upon me the importance of local business ownership. He clearly understood that, when the owners and top executives of a business live and work in the same community where that business operates, they are more likely to invest in the long-term success of the company, engage in the community and invest in local philanthropy. This is also the reason every city and state attempts to lure corporate headquarters.

Mickey witnessed firsthand the negative effects of out-of-state ownership when he was a board member of locally owned Merchants National Corp. Certain small businesses were asked to find another bank shortly after Merchants National was acquired by an out-of-state bank. This was the impetus behind Mickey’s founding of a locally owned bank—
The National Bank of Indianapolis.

In 1990, Mickey and Bob Schloss purchased IBJ Media, three years after it had been purchased by an out-of-state firm, once again bringing IBJ under local ownership. Although Mickey could not have predicted in 1990 the headwinds that local news and newspapers would face, his understanding of the importance of local ownership would prove to be critical. Traditional daily newspapers have hollowed out their newsrooms as a result of corporate cost-cutting in the wake of industry consolidation and out-of-state ownership.

When Mickey approached me in 2017 about the possibility of buying into IBJ, I knew that keeping IBJ under local ownership long into the future was a very important part of the deal. I was happy to oblige.

As we celebrate our 40th anniversary, I am proud that IBJ has become the go-to local “paper.” Over the last two years, we have grown our subscriber base nearly 40%. In fact, I am thrilled to announce that we just broke our all-time high for subscriptions, previously set in 2001. This is a testament to our entire IBJ Media team and to Mickey’s and Bob’s long-term commitment to our community. It also reflects the demand for local, accurate, trusted and fair news.

This special 40th anniversary section is both backward- and forward-looking. We hope our profiles of 40 influential people in central Indiana over the last 40 years will inspire you. The 40 ideas for the future submitted by our readers serve as a potential call to action. The stories of growth and success of our downtown, the sports and convention industry, our technology sector and Hamilton County are illustrative of the success we can have when we work together as a community.

Since taking on the role of president/CEO of IBJ Media earlier this year, my appreciation for the role of the media in our community has grown. We are trusted with the awesome responsibility of keeping our community informed, highlighting where opportunities for improvement lie, and asking the tough questions that can lead to positive change.

As we look to the future, we will continue to invest in people and technology that will assist us in our mission to deliver trusted news, information and resources that inform current and aspiring business, not-for-profit, government, civic and community leaders. We will work to advance our goal of being a resource for community engagement and career advancement and provide critical information that can influence growth strategies for local companies.

Thank you for your support and confidence over the last 40 years. Your IBJ Media team is excited about where we will take our company in the future. Just like our city placed a bet on landing an NFL franchise nearly 40 years ago, I am certain that IBJ will take some risks and venture into new territory in the coming years. Most important, we look forward to continuing to play our part in the growth and evolution of central Indiana and the state of Indiana.

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