September 29, 2010
Early Sunday morning, while the sun is just rising, 100 civic leaders from the area will meet at MCI to depart on The Chamber’s 2010 Leadership Exchange. Seems like just yesterday, The Chamber began the Leadership Exchange program with a trip to Pittsburg in 2003, followed by trips to San Diego, Cincinnati, Minneapolis, Seattle, Nashville, and Denver.
Each year, The Chamber chooses a city to visit and study best practices, with an eye on bringing those ideas and initiatives for consideration back to Kansas City. Business, not-for-profit executives, area mayors, area Chamber leaders participate. This year, the trip includes approximately 22 members of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, led by Burns & McDonnell Chairman & CEO Greg Graves who chairs the trip and becomes the chair of The Chamber in four weeks.
Graves and The Chamber’s board chose Indy for good reasons and the decision was complicated. Some “older” Kansas Citians still sting at Indy’s success at attracting – away from Kansas City – the NCAA in 1999. And then there’s the FFA who also departed Kansas City in 1999 for Louisville, and now resides in Indianapolis. Some sentimental Kansas Citians, like me, miss the fresh-faced, young students in thier blue jackets moving around downtown each autumn for their annual meeting.
But there is a reason why many U.S. cities have visited Indy in trips similar to ours the past several years. Even St. Louis, our sister city to the east, took their civic leaders there earlier this year. Over the past 3-4 decades, Indianapolis civic leaders have been smart, strategic, and unified in setting forth their vision. Here’s a sampling of some of the developments that make Indy so appealing and successful.
- The downtown is in the midst of a multi-billion dollar construction boom that might be the largest in the nation for cities in their peer group.
- Indy will host the 2012 Super Bowl. They raised $25 million to produce the bid. Today, more than 8,000 volunteers are working to make that event a success.
- City-County government was consolidated in 1970. Named Uni-Gov, the reforms continue and area leaders credit the move for much of the success the city is realizing today.
- Indy has moved from 33rd to 16th in the convention market, mostly because of the expansion of the convention center adding 420,000 square feet to the mix; for a total of 1.2 million sq. ft.
Additionally a $450 million, privately financed J.W. Marriott hotel will open soon with over 1,000 rooms –the scope of convention hotel Kansas City leaders have been working toward.
So there will be much to learn in Indy. And it wouldn’t be possible without the generous assistance of the following sponsors:
Tune in for next week’s blog – to hear about lessons learned!