We’ve come a long way from the Downtown that many local residents and visitors recall when “the sidewalks rolled up at 5 o’clock p.m.” It’s true. Twenty five years ago, Downtown was too often deserted, deteriorating and filled with huge craters and vacant space. The plan for Circle Center was in jeopardy, the nation was struggling to recover from a major financial and real estate recession and more companies and residents were moving out of than moving into Downtown.
Fortunately, our civic leaders envisioned a vibrant Downtown and recognized the need for a nonprofit organization to shepherd its growth and well-being every single day.
I had the good fortune to lead that nonprofit organization — Indianapolis Downtown, Inc, now Downtown Indy — for nearly twenty years. It was an honor and a privilege — and lots of hard work by many — to develop, manage and market Downtown. The vision has become a reality.
Downtown is the heart and soul of our community and the envy of cities across the country. It is the state’s economic engine, one of Indy’s largest and most diverse neighborhoods and a center of medical and educational excellence. Downtown is also a popular place to gather, dine be entertained and celebrate.
I was pleased and delighted to pass the leadership mantel to Sherry Seiwert, Downtown Indy’s current and very capable leader, six years ago.
With twenty five years behind us, now what is ahead? Having observed cities everywhere invest significantly in their downtowns; I’m quick to say Indianapolis CANNOT and MUST NOT rest on its laurels. The competition for our companies and our talent is fierce and relentless; and our residents and visitors deserve the best.
We must do what Indianapolis does so well. Come together, set personal agendas aside and imagine the possibilities of what we as a community can do when we work together toward a shared vision and common goals.
We must continue to build upon our strengths and strategic advantages, amplify the voices of those ignored, champion the creativity of our residents and expand opportunities for growth.
I’m thrilled to join so many in celebrating 25 years of Downtown successes and, as importantly, imagine the possibilities of our future.
*This post was written as part of Downtown Indy, Inc.’s 25th Anniversary Celebration. Celebrate in person at the Silver Shindig!
President, Zahn Associates & Past President, Indianapolis Downtown, Inc.