Indianapolis Revival Is a Team Effort

What's made the difference in the trajectories of similarly-sized Midwest cities Detroit and Indianapolis? According to David Masciotra, cross-sector partnerships centered around sports entertainment have been the driving force behind Indy's success.
August 13, 2013, 7am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Indianapolis has a lot to boast about these days. With a "thriving culture scene," low unemployment rates, budget surpluses, and a reputation as a "tech hotbed," the city is enjoying a decades-long revival. "The obvious question, then, especially in the face of unmitigated fiscal devastation in Detroit, Cleveland, and many other smaller Midwest cities, is how did they do it?" says Masciotra.

"The Indianapolis plan for resurrection required much more than prayer. Beginning in the 1970s, under a visionary, Republican Mayor – William Hudnut – and Otis Bowen, a cooperative and moderate Republican Governor, Indianapolis sought to become the sports capital of the Midwest, a flytrap for business investment, and a tourist destination," he explains.

"'Top down' economic development schemes have often failed in other cities. Sports stadiums and convention centers rarely deliver on their utopic promises of business stimulation and tourism renewal, but in Indianapolis, the plan was not merely governmental investment. It was cross-sector partnership. The Indianapolis city government and the Indiana state government formed an alliance with Eli Lilly, and other large corporations in the state, to co-fund large scale projects."

"The public-private partnership proved successful not only in sports," he adds, "but also in attracting nightlife activity and encouraging entrepreneurship."

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Published on Monday, August 12, 2013 in The Atlantic Cities
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