To our elected officials, civic leaders, business leaders both public and private, along with our philanthropic organizations and our citizens, Indianapolis needs your leadership and support today, more than ever.

It was nearly forty years ago, your predecessors came together as one to take a town many considered Indy No Place and turned it into Indy Some Place – Their vision and efforts created a vibrant, clean and growing community that people who once flew over started flying to.

A world-class Zoo relocated in a new downtown park while our symphony orchestra renovated a vacant theater and soon called the circle home – Museums, an expanded convention center along with new hotels and restaurants quickly made Indianapolis a new destination and provided the foundation for new significant business growth in our city – Certainly, it took time and investment to facilitate the transformation of our city, the focal point of our state – Today, to get our city back to where it was in late March when the pandemic first hit, will take just as much effort but with far less time to act.

The pandemic forced schools and many businesses to close – Those employees who could work from home did so while those who couldn’t were furloughed. While over the past six months, processes and procedures have been set up to allow both students and employees safely back in schools and businesses, many have not yet returned.

Realistically, we have no idea when a safe vaccine will be available nor any guarantees. Masks and social distancing maybe the new norm. But while the pandemic has altered our lives, it should not any longer control them.

Our children are back in schools, restaurants are open, professional and high school sporting events are operating within acceptable guidelines. People are shopping while enjoying parks and recreational opportunities. To those businesses who continue to keep thousands at home and away from downtown, why?  Indianapolis desperately needs you back.

Certainly, if someone has underlying medical issues, stay home and be safe. But the vast majority of downtown office staff working from home, are shopping, are dining out and have gotten their children back into the classrooms. Now we need them and their vitality back downtown. Without people, the heart of Indiana has no blood in its veins. When conventions and athletic events do return, without people, not sure what they will find other than shuttered restaurants and boarded up windows. Forty years of hard work is slipping away.

Businesses have the knowledge and the means to protect their staff from the virus. Gradually bringing staff back with the prospects of everyone being back by January 1, is the positive message our city needs to hear. To those who say the homeless in our city and the recent criminal acts are reasons not to return, we had those same issues in March long before the pandemic. Addressing them and social issues, does need to happen. But how do we when the very people who need to help facilitate those changes are home daily?

Today, our elected officials, civic leaders, business leaders both public and private, along with our philanthropic organizations and our citizens, need to come together once again and once again show your leadership.

Back Downtown. It’s time. #BackDowntownIndy

Frank Hancock, president & CEO of Sport Graphics

See the story on WTHR 13