Amazon HQ2: How The Indianapolis Region Has Already Won

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This column is not to announce that the Indianapolis metropolitan area has won Amazon's second corporate headquarters - even though it would be incredible news to share with all of you that we beat out 237 other locations for the project. Instead, I want to congratulate the region for coming together as one to pursue a transformative opportunity for its communities and the state. This collaborative effort is even more impressive when you consider that Amazon only provided regions and states with 42 days to respond to a Request for Proposal for a project that could result in a capital investment of up to $5 billion and the creation of up to 50,000 jobs for the winning location.

So, how did it happen in Indianapolis? Like any great process, it starts with incredible leadership and dedication. The day after the RFP was issued, the leadership of the Indy Chamber sat down with Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness and Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett to seek their input regarding the structure of the process and share the importance of having a unified approach. This approach was key due to the fact that Mayor Fadness becomes the chair of the Central Indiana Council of Elected Officials (CICEO) in November and Mayor Hogsett serves as the top elected official for the community that possesses the largest number of assets as identified by Amazon in its RFP document. Securing alignment from the very beginning of the process was critical and based on these discussions, the two mayors agreed to serve as co-chairs of the process.

After this critical early meeting, the Indy Chamber put together the framework for how the region would develop a response to Amazon’s RFP. The Chamber quickly reached out to its Regional Strategy Council, comprised of community leaders (public, private and non-profit) from the region, to share its recommended approach. In addition, the Chamber initiated dialogue with the local economic development organizations in the Indianapolis metropolitan area to solicit feedback and creative ideas to consider for the proposal. The Chamber also reached out to other key groups (including the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership and the Indiana University Public Policy Institute) to engage them early in the process.

Based on all of the discussions the Indy Chamber had with key community leaders in the Indianapolis region, the decision was made to engage two firms to work with the Chamber to develop a comprehensive response to the RFP issued by Amazon. Our firm, Ginovus, was honored to have been chosen as the site selection and economic development consulting practice partner for the Chamber. We could have not been more pleased to have been partnered with the creative firm, Innovative, and their talented team of professionals to meet the challenge of building the best proposal put forward by the Indianapolis region in pursuit of an economic development opportunity. The collaboration and commitment to ensuring that we had a great product for the customer from the beginning of the process was the guiding principle for us all.

The Chamber then worked Mayor Fadness and Mayor Hogsett to identify four private sector leaders to join the two mayors as co-chairs for the effort. The additions of Marya Rose from Cummins Engine, Julie Bielawski from Knowledge Services, Alonzo Weems from Eli Lilly and Scott McCorkle from Vibenomics, was important because it helped bring both regional and global perspectives to the discussion. The leadership, creativity, support and commitment from these six leaders demonstrated yet again the incredible people we have in the Indianapolis region and how we get things done.

Another critical aspect of the collaboration on this project was the leadership, guidance and personal involvement of Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb.  Governor Holcomb and his office, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, the Indiana Department of Workforce Development and the Indiana Office of Management and Budget, were great partners throughout the process as we were building the Indianapolis region’s proposal for Amazon. The State of Indiana provided key data points, committed financial incentives and brought forward resources that helped make the proposal something we all could be proud of upon completion.

The Indy Chamber and its partners throughout the Indianapolis region should be congratulated for their leadership and collaborative efforts to best position the area in its response to Amazon’s RFP. This process has demonstrated that the region can work well together and be unified in its pursuit of a transformative opportunity. The Indianapolis region has the leadership, focus and shared goal of collaboration to accomplish important things together. While we continue to fight hard as a region to win the Amazon HQ2 project, we have proven that we can things together and that is a victory in itself.

Larry Gigerich serves as Executive Managing Director of Ginovus.

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