On a dreary afternoon in January, I witnessed something extraordinary taking place at the Indianapolis Art Center: a meeting of city, town and county leaders from both sides of the aisle working together for the greater good of the Indianapolis area.
We came together to address the important issues facing our Indy region and to discuss seizing on the incredible opportunities that are also afforded this area. The agenda that afternoon included the following: a discussion of our region’s long-term water needs, our region’s application for a $500 million EPA grant, the progress we are making toward securing a $75 million READI grant, and the consideration of a letter of support for Marian College’s attempt to transform a dilapidated and abandoned state hospital into a training and education center.
Along with these items, two additional cities were added to our organization, and an update was given that two more cities would be joining at the next meeting. That would bring our membership up to 26 cities and one county government representing 80% of the Indianapolis metropolitan region. All agenda items received unanimous votes of support.
Here’s why this is extraordinary: Rewind a decade ago, and this meeting simply would not have occurred. For two years, I worked to get legislation passed at the Statehouse to create the Central Indiana Regional Development Authority, or CIRDA, to align our region’s local governments—a personal and professional goal of mine the last five years. This vision finally came to fruition on the heels of COVID and the economic and political turmoil we experienced that ultimately inspired us to work as one. Today, we see the momentum we can build when we come together.
I am incredibly grateful for Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, Noblesville Mayor Chris Jensen, Franklin Mayor Steve Barnett, Plainfield Town Council President Robin Brandgard and many others for their trust and commitment to this idea, which I have no doubt will continue to snowball to include more leaders and serve as a catalyst for greater long-term impact.
Our time to put our foot on the gas pedal is now, as our region has fallen behind others. Through our collective work, we must move more quickly and boldly than ever before, and most important, we must convince the residents we serve that this region deserves and is capable of aspirations.
In the coming months, you will be hearing much more from CIRDA on a variety of subjects regarding our region. One of our most important priorities will be to demonstrate to the private and philanthropic communities that our public sector is aligned and welcomes collaboration with these key stakeholders.
On that dreary afternoon at the Indianapolis Art Center, I saw Republican small-town mayors, Democratic urban mayors and everyone in between raising their hands in support of our region. At a time when polarization and political dysfunction has disillusioned so many, perhaps at a regional level our collaborative actions can dare to restore a little bit of faith in the public sector. Stay tuned.•
Fadness is mayor of Fishers and chair of the Central Indiana Regional Development Authority board.