Westfield Mayor Andy Cook says he is bringing a practical approach to a panel convened by the U.S. Department of Transportation focusing on how roads and rail affect leisure industries. Cook is the only elected official on the 15-member National Advisory Committee on Travel and Tourism Infrastructure, which has been meeting this week in Washington, D.C. In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Cook said convention and visitor spending is an overlooked asset in the Hoosier economy. He says meeting with high-profile federal officials can help draw attention to issues affecting central Indiana.
Cook calls his city the Family Sports Capital of America and says it benefits from its proximity to all the interstates surrounding Indianapolis that bring travelers to destinations like Grand Park sports complex and other attractions in nearby Fishers and Carmel. Challenges, he adds, remain in throughout central Indiana in the effort to build on these location advantages. "I know a lot of people who come to Grand Park from around the country and land at our beautiful airport are shocked to learn that there’s no good public transportation system to downtown Indy," Cook says. "We’re having a lot of (freight) congestion (from trucks on Indiana highways) that is affecting all kinds of industries across America, and I think that is something that we have to take a look at."
Cook was named to the committee earlier this year by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao. The others involved with in the group include:
- Chair: Eric Garvey, Executive Director, Florida Space Coast Office of Tourism
- Vice Chair: Rossi Ralenkotter, President & CEO, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority
- Rosemarie Andolino, President & CEO, MAG USA
- Juva Barber, Executive Director, Kentuckians for Better Transportation
- James Dubea, Vice President, TranSystems
- Camille Ferguson, Executive Director, American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association
- Sean Fitzgerald, Vice President, Enterprise Holdings, Inc.
- Bryan Grimaldi, Chief Operating Officer & General Counsel, NYC & Company, Inc.
- David Harvey, Managing Director of Business Development, Southwest Airlines
- Jim Mathews, President & CEO, National Association of Railroad Passengers
- Sean Menke, President & CEO, Sabre
- Peter Pantuso, President & CEO, American Bus Association
- Sharon Pinkerton, Senior Vice President, Airlines for America
- John Potter, President and CEO, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority
Westfield Mayor Andy Cook says meeting with high-profile federal officials can help draw attention to issues affecting central Indiana.