Over the past few weeks, Downtown Indy, Inc. has been focused on the stabilization of Downtown. You can learn more about the efforts here.
Today, Downtown Indy, Inc., announces the formation of a critical business and community leadership effort to spur economic sustainability and community support for Downtown. The Downtown Indy Rebuilding and Recovery Committee will address the economic challenges of COVID-19, as well as social and racial inequity.
“Our intent is to put forth a solution-focused approach to rebuilding Downtown as we navigate the dramatic impact that COVID-19 is having on our Downtown,” said Sherry Seiwert, president and CEO of Downtown Indy, Inc.“ We are assembling business and civic leaders representing businesses large and small, private and public to outline essential drivers toward the reemergence of a thriving and inclusive Downtown and a vibrant core.”
The Downtown Indy Rebuilding and Recovery Committee will be co-chaired by Lacy Johnson, a partner at Ice Miller, LLC. and Thomas K. McGowan, president of Kite Companies.
“It’s time to get back to business,” stated McGowan. “We are at a critical crossroads for Downtown and we need to demonstrate that Downtown is open and ready to welcome back employees and visitors and encourage them to join the thousands of residents in supporting Downtown businesses struggling through these challenging times.”
Johnson added, ”Part of this rebuilding effort is getting the word out that Downtown is open and reminding folks that what they love about Downtown is still here, including beautiful parks, great outdoor experiences, abundant restaurants and engaging attractions.”
Downtown Indy, Inc. plans to be part of an announcement later this week about a robust marketing effort in collaboration with the City of Indianapolis, Visit Indy and key civic partners.
“Downtown has become our city’s fastest growing neighborhood — a center for business, hospitality, and tourism, as well as a growing number of individuals and families who call the area home. The success the Mile Square has enjoyed over the last decade is undeniable and we can’t allow the momentum to dissipate even as we continue to address the public health challenges associated with COVID-19,” said Mayor Joe Hogsett. “This Downtown Indy, Inc. committee will bring together stakeholders from a diverse group of organizations to think critically about the needs of our Downtown’s success in the short term, while also developing strategies to ensure a more vibrant Mile Square in the future. In the coming days, we will be announcing plans for a county-wide approach to jump-starting the Marion County economy and the work of this committee will ensure that our Downtown is well positioned to once again welcome residents and visitors alike.”
Over the course of the next six months, committee members will:
- Assess the existing environmental landscape and relevant information impacting recovery including data collection around business interruption and associated costs, real-time inventory/map of business tenants, timelines for return-to-work from all sectors, consumer confidence trends, etc.
- Seek additional industry-specific input to identifying existing barriers preventing stabilization and recovery within each sector-type.
- Support existing Black-owned businesses and seek opportunities to reduce barriers that could lead to an increase in the number of Black-owned businesses.
- Develop and launch hyper-local focused promotions targeted at prospective Downtown consumers from Central Indiana.
- Create inclusive and diverse events that build equitable and quality of life experiences balanced against the continued public health crisis and its limitations.
- Review, support and expand quality of life fundamentals for Downtown, including continued street cleanliness, beautification, and safety/security issues.
- Assist in identifying additional funding partners and other organization critical to the long-term success of Downtown’s recovery.
Members of the Downtown Indy Rebuilding and Recovery Committee include:
- Brad Chambers, President/CEO, Buckingham Companies
- Tamara Cypress, CSR Consultant, Black Onyx Management, Inc.
- Mamadou Diallo, Owner, J Benzal Menswear
- Rick Fuson, President/COO, Pacers Sports & Entertainment
- Chris Gahl, Senior Vice President, Visit Indy
- Craig Huse, CEO, Huse Culinary
- Malina Jeffers, Cultural Entrepreneur, and Board Member of Indianapolis Downtown Marketing, Inc.
- Lacy Johnson, Partner, IceMiller LLC
- Angela Smith Jones, Deputy Mayor, City of Indianapolis
- John Lechleiter, Downtown resident
- David Lies, Vice President, OneAmerica
- Cebronia Luft, Founder and Owner, Pavilion at Pan Am
- Thomas McGowan, president & COO, Kite Realty Group Trust
- Derrick Richardson, Owner, DR Salon
- Sherry Seiwert, President/CEO, Downtown Indy, Inc.
- Rev. Mary Slenski, Interim Rector, Christ Church Cathedral
- Rick Trimpe, Vice President, Hertz Investment Group
- Pete Ward, COO, Indianapolis Colts
The Downtown Rebuilding & Recovery Committee, which is still gathering members, will begin meeting the week of July 13 to eventually draft a tactical blueprint for Downtown recovery by incorporating the strategic outcomes of discussions currently underway around safety/security, affordability, livability, and homelessness. The immediate focus will be on building consumer confidence and enticing continued and equitable investment in Downtown.
“As we look ahead, we recognize the effects of current crises remain and may linger but we stand firm in further recognizing the resilience of our workforce, civic partners, elected officials and residents in addressing that which makes our Downtown a thriving, diverse and vibrant city core,” added Seiwert. “Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic indicators pointed to a very strong Downtown, which should position us well for recovery.”
Two weeks ago, Downtown Indy, Inc. released its annual community report that illustrated that prior to COVID-19, Downtown was performing exceptionally well and helping to support the entire county’s overall tax base. While Downtown represents only 1.6 percent of the county’s total land mass, it generates more than 11.3 percent of the property taxes for Marion County and 8 percent of the county’s sales tax revenue. Downtown’s property tax revenues have grown at an Average Annual Growth Rate (AAGR) of 7.7 percent per year over the last seven years, while Marion County has growth at an AAGR of 3.3 percent over the same time period.
“We need to sustain and expand the economic vitality of Downtown for the betterment of the entire region,” added McGowan. “As Downtown goes, so goes the entire city. And as the city of Indianapolis goes, so goes the entire state.”
As referenced in the 2020 Downtown Indy, Inc. Community Report presented by JP Morgan Chase: Throughout the first two decades of the 21st century, the value of Downtown Indianapolis has been demonstrated by the essential elements of a quickly developing and thriving urban economy:
- Fast demographic growth:
- Downtown’s population has grown by 27% from 2010 to 2018, a growth 4.5 times higher than the Marion County average, and nine times higher than in the state.
- Fast economic growth and development:
- Downtown Indianapolis has experienced the fastest growth in job density in Marion County over the 21st century, with a total increase of more than 1,000 jobs per square mile between 2004 and 2015.
- The strength of the market coupled by a strong appetite for investment in 2019 followed a similar trend from 2018. More than $406 million in business and development investment was completed in 2019 representing a 32% increase over 2018. This strength has poised Downtown Indianapolis for continued growth with more than $2.6 billion worth of investment in the pipeline over the next 2-5 years.
- Higher wages have also resulted in an accelerated fiscal contribution from Downtown to the county:
- Downtown’s 2018 property and income taxes totaled $154 million making up 13% of City-County’s $1.1 billion 2019 budget while only representing 1.6% total landmass of the county.
- As a key economic driver for Indianapolis, Downtown’s property tax base has increased by 53.4% from 2011 to 2018, more than twice as fast as the property tax base for Marion County.