KC to Indy Day Two


October 4, 2010

Kristi Smith Wyatt, Senior Vice President, Government Relations and Policy Development

Day two of The Chamber’s Leadership  Exchange #8 to Indianapolis continued on a high note.  The day began atop the beautiful Skyline Club which overlooked the city for as far as the eye could see. 

Indianapolis Mayor Gregory Ballard opened the day’s program with a special greeting and message about his city and what makes it successful.  The former Marine said, “Indianapolis is very good at bringing the private, non-profit and public sectors together to get things done.  One of the best things about being the mayor of Indy – every day I see someone or some group doing the best for others.” 

He sees the value of sister cities and international relationships because he says if you don’t see the global economy coming, you’re going to get run over by it.

On Day Two, the delegation woke up to breakfast with the Indianapolis Mayor and a discussion of the city’s vision and sports strategy. Here’s Lenexa Mayor Mike Boehm, Prairie Village Mayor Ron Shaffer, Mission Mayor Laura McConwell, Indianapolis Mayor Gregory Ballard, Leawood Mayor Peggy Dunn, and KCK/Wyandotte County Unified Government Mayor Joe Reardon.

 The morning’s panel on “City Vision, Strategy and Leadership in the World’s Amateur Sports Capital” was kicked off by Ted Boehm, former CEO of the Indianapolis Sports Corporation and retired Indiana Supreme Court Justice who said, in 1975 there was an agreement that three things were needed: 1) repopulate the central business district; 2) build a major university; and, 3) develop people-generators.  And they settled on sports as a way to accomplish these goals.  “Sports set the bar that Indy can do whatever it wants to do as long as the city is pulling together,” Boehm said.

Susan Williams, current president of the Indiana Sports Corporation said sports changed the way we looked at ourselves.  Further, sports is a vehicle for attracting and attaining young talent to help grow strong roots in the community. 

Allison Melangton, CEO, 2012 Super Bowl Host Committee, described the city’s process for their successful bid for the Super Bowl, which entailed securing $25 million of commitment with no promise of anything in return.  120 companies comprised the bid pack with contributions ranging from $10,000 to $2.5 M. 

Monday afternoon found half the delegation on a bus tour of the affluent Indy suburb of Carmel, Indiana, led by its charismatic Mayor Jim Brainard. Carmel boasts the sixth highest per capita income of any city in the United States.

Comments from the Kansas City contingency included one from Hannes Zacharias, county manager of Johnson County, Kansas, who said “I hope our vision exceeds our current grasp.”   Denise Kruse, president of AdamsGabbert, added “Don’t wait for the ‘Big Event’ to engage our young people.”

Later at Indy’s historic Union Station (which pales in comparison to KC’s) we heard from two former deputy mayors… John Krauss and Steve Campbell.  In 1976 there were 60 governmental units in Marion County.  Uni-Gov, the consolidation of Indianapolis with Marion County, was approved by the state legislature in 1969 and adopted by Marion County in 1970 for the purpose of improved and more efficient service delivery.   School districts in Marion County are not consolidated…they have 11. 

Two young civic leaders, Michael Huber, deputy mayor for economic development to the current mayor and David Lewis, an executive with Eli Lilly and Company spoke about the Indy model for public-private collaboration.   They highlighted the establishment of a team of experts from area companies who volunteer their time to troubleshoot on thorny issues and help local governments improve process an procedures.  They reportedly saved the city $400,000 by streamlining the city’s bus pick-up and drop-off procedures.   

The discussion about the combined sewer issue in Indy sounded familiar.  Recently the city entered into a consent agreement with EPA for $3.1 B which was a considerable reduction from the original estimate.  A lively discussion on the cost of correcting combined sewers was summed up by Clint Robinson, of Black and Veatch who said “the solution to pollution is dilution.”

Later this afternoon, 50 attendees visited the affluent city of Carmel, north of Indianapolis, on a tour led by Mayor Jim Brainard.  Carmel has the sixth-highest per capita income in the U.S.  It was also the home of The Palladium, a 1,600 seat performing arts center that serves the region.

Don Welsh, president of the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association and Scott Blalock, GM of the JW Marriott, discussed the success of the tourism industry in Indy.  Clearly investment in the infrastructure is way ahead of the pay-off to the city.  Tourism in Indy amounts to over $9 B.  The new jewel of downtown, a 1,005-room J.W. Marriott convention hotel will open in February.  The city is hoping that quality hotel availability combined with the sports focus and clear city vision will continue to bring meetings, conventions, and tourists to their city.  Rick Hughes, CEO of the KC Convention and Visitors Association remarked on Indy’s success and noted that KC had not had any significant addition or major improvement to its hotel properties for over 20 years.

Sly James of the Sly James Law Firm, Justice Ted Boehm, former CEO of the Indianapolis Sports Commission and retired Indiana Supreme Court Justice, and Mike Burke of King Hershey, continued the day’s discussion at the Big Kids Reception and Dinner at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum sponsored by Burns & McDonnell.

Burns and McDonnell, represented by president and CEO Greg Graves, welcomed Leadership Exchange participants and guests to the dinner his company graciously hosted.  Held at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, the dinner was fun and festive and guests wandered through the facility, the world’s largest and considered by experts to be the nation’s finest and most successful, with a budget of $25 M; 250 employees; established in 1925.

It was a memorable day.  Indianapolis has truly made most of its assets through community collaboration and a united vision.  Tomorrow – Day 3.

Read more about The Chamber’s Leadership Exchange, KC to Indy, Day One blog >>

Read more about The Chamber’s Leadership Exchange, KC to Indy, Day Three blog >>


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2 Responses to “KC to Indy Day Two”

  1. KC to Indy Day One « The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Says:

    […] Visible, Better Connected « Tracking the Region’s Fastest Growing Companies KC to Indy Day Two […]

  2. The final day in Indy – Day 3 « The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Says:

    […] The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Get Smarter, More Visible, Better Connected « KC to Indy Day Two […]

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