Master Strategy: Fishers Named 2016 Community of the Year

“Fishers could have stayed nothing more than what it was when I moved there in 1995: a nice place to live with lovely vinyl apartments. But it’s not that (today). And that’s not an accident; it got there with a strong plan,” declares John McDonald, CEO of Fishers-based CloudOne.

No matter who you talk to – business leaders, local officials or longtime residents – they all cite adopting the vision in recent years to become a “smart, vibrant, entrepreneurial city” as the turning point for Fishers. They credit Mayor Scott Fadness for instilling that, with the backing of the city council.

What’s followed is quite the transformation.

Major economic announcements are the new norm, not the exception. Innovation is now synonymous with the fast-growing locale.

That speaks to how dominant a player Fishers has become in the last several years in business attraction and expansion. It boasts an impressive entrepreneurial spirit thanks to Launch Fishers, the largest collaborative co-working space in the state (if not the Midwest)…

Read the full story in BizVoice.


Carmel Named Indiana Chamber’s 2015 Community of the Year

cityofcarmel2A philosophy of trying to “do things just a little bit better than everyone else” has led to extraordinary business, cultural and academic opportunities, and earned Carmel the Indiana Chamber of Commerce’s 2015 Community of the Year award.

Under Mayor Jim Brainard’s leadership, the community has reinvented itself from a small town to one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States, with a population of about 85,000.

Among Carmel’s achievements:

  • Serves as the national headquarters for more than 75 leading companies, including many in the software and health care industries as well as MISO (Midcontinent Independent System Operator), which manages the delivery of electric power across much of North America.
  • Investments in infrastructure, such as the community’s 90-plus roundabouts, have increased both safety and efficiency. Carmel has more roundabouts than any other city in the country.
  • New residential and business complexes recently completed and/or underway. Just last year, nine new or expanding companies brought in 1,390 new jobs; and plans were announced for a new Midtown development that will include 285,000 square feet of office/commercial space and 270 residential units in the heart of the city.
  • Nationally recognized school system, both in terms of academics and athletics. With 5,000 students, Carmel High School Principal John Williams declares that “size equals amazing opportunities for our kids.” And a Carmel Clay Parks system that won national accreditation, one of only three in Indiana to do so.
  • Named (in 2015 alone) one of the safest small cities for retirement (, best town to raise a family (NICHE; MarketWatch) and best place to get a job in Indiana (Zippia). Was also named by CNN Money Magazine as the Best Place to Live in America (2012) and the No. 3 best in 2014.

“Carmel’s success comes down to three things: vision, partnerships and perseverance,” observes Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar. “City leaders have, time and again, avoided taking ‘the easy route.’ They’ve embraced challenges and taken risks that have transformed Carmel from a good community to an outstanding city. It’s highly regarded across the country and beyond as a city that ‘gets things done.’ ”

“For the past 20 years, our city has been on a mission to reinvent what it means to live in a suburb. We have worked hard to avoid the pitfalls of traditional suburban sprawl and instead embraced a shared vision of redeveloping our urban core, encouraging a walkable, sustainable community and challenging developers to pay close attention to architecture and density to maximize both the beauty and the value of their projects,” Brainard says. “This honor from the Indiana Chamber is further evidence that we are succeeding and need to continue working hard to build the best city in America to live, work and play.”

A focus on the arts, fitness and family also helped Carmel earn the Community of the Year award. The Palladium at the Center for the Performing Arts, the Arts and Cultural District and the Monon Community Center are among the popular attractions for residents and visitors.

Jim Burrell, longtime resident and retired Carmel Clay Schools administrator, is an avid community volunteer. He sums up his impressions of Carmel this way: “My wife and I have seen it grow from kind of a sleepy community to something that is really incredible. We’ve seen so much happen here. It’s a community we’ve loved and have been a part of.”

The Community of the Year award will be presented at the Indiana Chamber’s 26th Annual Awards Dinner on November 4 at the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis. More than 1,500 business, political and community leaders are expected to attend.

Highly-acclaimed political strategists James Carville and Karl Rove will headline the event, presented in partnership with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield. The reception is at 5 p.m. with dinner beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tables of 10 and individual tickets are available at (800) 824-6885 or at Sponsorship opportunities also remain; contact Jim Wagner ([email protected]) for details.

The celebration of Hoosier success stories will include presentation of three additional awards: Business Leader, Government Leader and, for the first time, the Indiana Chamber Foundation Indiana Vision 2025 Dynamic Leader of the Year. Indiana Vision 2025 is the Chamber’s long-range economic development plan and the new award will emphasize entrepreneurship and others facets of the Dynamic and Creative Culture driver.

Media interested in covering the event should contact Rebecca Patrick at (317) 264-6897 or [email protected]

Past Community of the Year recipients:

2014: Bloomington
2013: Bedford
2012: Indianapolis
2011: Kokomo
2010: Terre Haute
2009: Valparaiso
2008: Noblesville
2007: Anderson
2006: Evansville
2005: LaPorte
2004: Muncie
2003: Warsaw
2002: Marion
2001: Greater Lafayette
2000: Jeffersonville
1999: Fort Wayne
1998: Rochester
1997: Batesville
1996: Elkhart
1995: Indianapolis
1994: Kendallville
1993: St. Joseph County
1992: Columbus
1991: Muncie
1990: Bluffton

Chamber’s Top Honors Go to Lake City’s Kubacki, Rep. Brooks and Bloomington

KRH_7626Banking executive Mike Kubacki, Fifth District Congresswoman Susan Brooks and the city of Bloomington were all honored by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce this evening at the organization’s 25th Annual Awards Dinner.

A crowd of approximately 1,500 attended the event at the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis. Saturday Night Live alum and radio host Dennis Miller was the featured speaker.

The awards dinner was presented in partnership with Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield.

“All of our honorees have demonstrated supreme commitment to making Indiana a better place. Their efforts will be felt well beyond today and pay dividends for years to come,” says Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar.

Business Leader of the Year: Mike Kubacki, Lake City Bank executive chairman, Warsaw
Lake City Bank Executive Chairman Mike Kubacki grew up in the business, with his father serving as president of Pierceton State Bank in Whitley County.

After a 25-year career in Chicago and Los Angeles with Northern Trust, Kubacki returned home when the call came from Lake City.

“People come up to me and say, ‘I bank at your bank and your people in this office are great,’” Kubacki shares. “It’s really an outstanding job, and it’s a 24/7 job – but that doesn’t bother me. It’s a magnificent experience.

“As a leader of a community bank, there simply isn’t a distinction between what I do at work and at home. Back in the day, we’d say there are two kinds of people in the world for a community banker – customers and prospects. So you need to be on your best behavior all the time. If you don’t enjoy that, you shouldn’t be a banker,” he states.

During his 16 years as CEO (through earlier this year), Lake City increased its assets from $800 million to $3.2 billion. Kubacki led a team that expanded efforts beyond its home of Warsaw by establishing regional centers in South Bend, Fort Wayne and Indianapolis. He also introduced a formalized training program called Lake City University.

That growth has earned widespread admiration. Dan Evans, CEO of Indiana University Health, was elected to the Lake City Bank board in 2010. He cites Kubacki’s leadership as a driver in his desire to serve. “Mike’s intensely focused on what is best for his customers and the communities that Lake City serves,” he notes.

In Kubacki’s current role as executive chairman and throughout his career, he has never been one to sit behind his desk. He says his office now is anywhere where he has his briefcase and cell phone. His direct relationships with clients, and community involvement are widespread.

David Findlay, current Lake City Bank CEO, says Kubacki’s role as chairman is equally as important as his prior one. “He’s a tremendous voice for the bank and the communities we serve. He’s one of the most effective calling officers I’ve ever seen in terms of his development of relationships with clients, centers of influence and prospects.”

Government Leader of the Year: Congresswoman Susan Brooks
Being a freshman is never easy. Fortunately for her constituents, Congresswoman Susan Brooks was a standout from the very beginning.

Her experiences as a lawyer, deputy mayor of Indianapolis, U.S. Attorney and at Ivy Tech Community College have helped her get off to a fast start. Prestigious committee assignments, reaching out across the aisle and actually moving legislation in a Congress plagued by partisanship are among the accomplishments.

Brooks asked for and received placement on the Committee on Education and the Workforce, plus the Committee on Homeland Security. She was also assigned to the Ethics Committee, which investigates the conduct of House members. In addition, earlier this year she was the only freshman asked to serve on the House Select Committee on the Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack in Benghazi.

Tom Snyder, Ivy Tech president, did not know Brooks prior to bringing her on board. In addition to strengthening the in-house legal capabilities at the community college, she helped developed what eventually became the school’s Corporate College (with an emphasis on training capabilities).

“Susan is an incredibly good listener in terms of business needs,” he explains. “She was a business advocate when she was here and she’s taken that position as she’s moved on to Congress.

“She’s had two bills passed in a Congress that has a reputation for not getting bills passed. I think Susan is an example that if you get the right people in Congress, they get past institutional barriers and get things done.”

Of the approximately 70 House members voted into office two years ago, Brooks states, “People want us to try and be different because they are so fed up and angry about the gridlock.”

Sarah Evans Barker, longtime judge of the U.S. District Court of Southern Indiana where Brooks was a U.S. attorney, believes Brooks has what it takes to make a difference: “Susan brings the same outlook, same approach, and same dedication and good humor to every responsibility she is given – and people trust her for that. She is who she is. It’s a wonderful fact about her and wonderful description of her.”

Community of the Year: Bloomington
If you look at just the last decade alone, the city of Bloomington has been on the cutting edge in several industries.

The life sciences sector – led by world-renowned device manufacturer Cook Medical Group – continues to thrive. An emergence in the high-tech arena is also paying dividends.

The work of the Bloomington Technology Partnership (BTP) has helped pave the way with a variety of endeavors. Another key factor driving technology has been the education and knowledge housed at both Ivy Tech and Indiana University.

“Just over the last 10 years, we’ve seen something like 500 patents come out of the work of all our faculty members – and many of those patents have led to either technologies that have been licensed or the development of start-up companies,” says Indiana University President Michael McRobbie.

“So over about the same period, we’ve seen nearly 40 new companies get established that have grown out of IU-developed technologies and innovations.”

The city believes its crown jewel will be a 65-acre certified technology park that includes a 12-acre core property currently under development in downtown. Weekly networking events, numerous technology gatherings and an annual three-day conference further emphasize the importance placed on the tech economy.

But life is about far more than work, and Bloomington’s prosperity and popularity is strongly rooted in its culture and attractions. It’s something the city consciously uses to its advantage.

Mayor Mark Kruzan: “Our economic development strategy is based on the notion that quality of life is synonymous with economic vitality. We’re trying to make Bloomington the kind of place people want to visit, live, work, invest in. That’s what’s fueling the economy.”

Community leaders and residents come together to tackle challenges and create new opportunities. Above all, they are passionate about their hometown.

“There are some of the geekiest, smartest people working on tech startups here. And every single one of them is creating a product that blows me away every time,” notes Katie Birge, director of the BTP.

Concludes McRobbie: “I’ve never regretted for a nanosecond moving here. I love living in Bloomington … it really is a wonderful environment in which to live.”
Ivy Tech Community College served as the speaker sponsor for the event, while the opening reception sponsor was Uzelac & Associates. The speaker reception sponsor was Hirons & Company: Advertising + Public Relations.

The awards dinner followed the Indiana Chamber’s fall board of directors and annual membership meetings. Indiana Chamber Volunteers of the Year Phil Bounsall (Walker, Indianapolis); Jill Ritchie (Indiana Beverage, Valparaiso); and Heather Wilson (Frost Brown Todd, Indianapolis) were announced during a lunch ceremony.

Tom Easterday, executive vice president of Subaru of Indiana Automotive, of Lafayette, was elected the Indiana Chamber’s 2015 chair of the board of directors.

Videos honoring the award winners that were shown at tonight’s event can be viewed at Read more about the winners at

Business Leader of the Year
Steve Ferguson – 2013
Scott Dorsey – 2012
Jean Wojtowicz – 2011
Mike Wells – 2010
John Swisher – 2009

Community of the Year
Bedford – 2013
Indianapolis – 2012
Kokomo – 2011
Terre Haute – 2010
Valparaiso – 2009

Government Leader of the Year
Former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar – 2013
Sen. Carlin Yoder and Rep. Jerry Torr – 2012
Speaker of the House Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long – 2011
Tony Bennett, state superintendent of public instruction – 2010
Stan Jones, former state commissioner for higher education – 2009

Chamber Names Bloomington 2014 Community of the Year

The city of Bloomington was named the 2014 Community of the Year today by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. The announcement came at a city hall press conference attended by local government, civic and business leaders.

“This is a tremendous honor for the greater Bloomington area and I proudly accept it on behalf of our citizens and businesses,” said Mayor Mark Kruzan. “Our philosophy is that quality of life is synonymous with economic development. If this is a place that you choose to live, work and play, it’s the kind of place you want to do business.”

Bloomington’s quality of life and amenities along with its emergence as a major high-tech sector for the state were cited as primary factors in its winning the award.

Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar on the selection: “Bloomington is truly unique for a city of its size; it boasts so many cultural, arts, recreational and entertainment offerings. It has big city options with the comfort that comes from living in a close-knit community.”

Brinegar also noted the economic impact Bloomington’s life sciences arena continues to have on the region and emphasized the impressive focus on technology by public and private entities.

“The work of the Bloomington Technology Partnership has been first rate, fostering growth of the city’s emerging high-tech economy through talent recruitment, networking opportunities and technical assistance,” he stated.

“A key part of that effort has been driving technology through education, both at Indiana University and Ivy Tech. This has contributed to seeing an 80% growth in tech sector employment in recent years.”

Among the other impressive technology endeavors highlighted by the Indiana Chamber:
• The 65-acre Bloomington Certified Technology Park with the 12-acre core property currently under development
• The progress of IU’s School of Informatics, the first of its kind in the U.S., which has produced a steady stream of high-quality technology professionals
• Establishing the Cook Center for Entrepreneurship at Ivy Tech and the Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at IU
• The coding school program that addresses a skills gap need in the technology sector

The 2014 Community of the Year award will be presented to Mayor Kruzan and Bloomington during the Indiana Chamber’s 25th Annual Awards Dinner on November 6 at the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis. The 2014 Business Leader of the Year and Government Leader of the Year recipients will be announced at that time.

More than 1,400 business, political and community leaders are expected to attend. “Saturday Night Live” alum Dennis Miller, whose current focus is political commentary on Fox News and a nationally-syndicated talk radio program, will headline the event. Tables of 10 and individual tickets are available for the reception (5 p.m. EST) and dinner (6:30 p.m. EST). Reservations can be made at (800) 824-6885 or at

Media interested in covering the event should contact Rebecca Patrick at (317) 264-6897.

Past Community of the Year recipients:

2013: Bedford
2012: Indianapolis
2011: Kokomo
2010: Terre Haute
2009: Valparaiso
2008: Noblesville
2007: Anderson
2006: Evansville
2005: LaPorte
2004: Muncie
2003: Warsaw
2002: Marion
2001: Greater Lafayette
2000: Jeffersonville
1999: Fort Wayne
1998: Rochester
1997: Batesville
1996: Elkhart
1995: Indianapolis
1994: Kendallville
1993: St. Joseph County
1992: Columbus
1991: Muncie
1990: Bluffton

Spreading the Word in Kokomo

The proverbial "15 minutes in the sun" can last a lot longer — particuarly if one takes proper advantage.

Case in point: Kokomo and its 2011 Indiana Chamber Community of the Year award. It was announced on October 3 and will be officially presented at the 22nd Annual Awards Dinner on November 17.

The good people in Kokomo are doing things right, showing in part why they earned the award in the first place. The downtown announcement a few weeks ago attracted a good crowd and featured the unveiling of a large banner on the side of City Hall.

Community members were genuinely emotional about receiving the honor. They plan to be out in full force on November 17, celebrating along the way at the city’s own annual Alliance event on November 3.

Throw in a new logo commemorating the award and other steps to leverage the recognition and "15 minutes" has already been blown out of the water. The multi-year effort by so many to earn the title is rightfully being matched by strategic follow-up and execution.

Congrats again, Kokomo, and we look forward to hosting you next month. 

Community Winner Kokomo Overcomes ‘Rocky’ Road

The Chamber’s press release calls Kokomo — being recognized as the 2011 Community of the Year at the upcoming 22nd Annual Awards Dinner — a "comeback kid." Maybe it should have termed the city the longest of longshots since Rocky Balboa entered the boxing ring against Apollo Creed for the first time in 1976.

While Rocky didn’t win that battle in the ring (off subject: too bad they didn’t stop that Rocky series after the first two entries), Kokomo emerged from its four leading businesses being in bankruptcy at the same time and unemployment that soared above 19%.

During several recent visits to Kokomo to document its story for our BizVoice magazine and the video at the November 17 awards event (no Rocky, but Terry Bradshaw will be the featured speaker), it’s clear that sheer determination of community leaders was one of the primary reasons for the turnaround. People like their hometown, and they didn’t want it to become a victim of an economic downfall that was largely out of their control.

Congratulations, Kokomo. We look forward to sharing the story of how it all happened in the weeks ahead.

Downtown Terre Haute’s New Look Getting Even Better

We named Terre Haute as our 2010 Community of the Year. Why? Because the community has made remarkable strides in becoming a better place to live — and attract visitors. Now, even more good news comes out of the Wabash Valley, and the city’s focus on downtown development gets a boost from Thompson Thrift Development. Thompson Thrift is a company we’re proud to call an active Indiana Chamber member, and we can’t wait to see how its new project will enhance Terre Haute’s progress even further.

Thompson Thrift Development, Inc., announced plans (March 15) to construct a new three-story professional office building at 925 Wabash Avenue that would serve as yet another building block in redeveloping the eastern edge of downtown Terre Haute. Construction is scheduled to begin in July of this year and be completed by May 2012.

The building will increase the opportunity for businesses to lease Class A office space in downtown. Its anchor tenants will be Old National Insurance and Emmis Communications (HI 99 and 105.5 The River) of Terre Haute. Space is still available in the building, and additional tenants will be announced as leases are signed. Anyone interested in leasing space in the building should call Thompson Thrift at (812) 235-5959.

"This new building is an ideal location for Old National Insurance as we continue to grow and expand," said Steve Danielson, region president for Old National Insurance. "Our 43 associates are delighted we will continue to be in downtown Terre Haute in such an attractive work space. We look forward to welcoming our clients to our new home."

"The decision by these two important local entities to relocate their operations to the new building and serve as anchor tenants reinforces our belief in the project’s value," said Paul Thrift, president of Thompson Thrift Development. "Old National Insurance and Emmis have been fixtures in the community for many years, and their continued commitment to downtown as demonstrated by their decisions to maintain their presence downtown is a positive development for the city. We are pleased to welcome them both."

The announcement represents another major milestone in the redevelopment of Terre Haute’s downtown area.

"We’re excited that Thompson Thrift has chosen to take another significant step forward in helping revitalize the city’s downtown," said Cliff Lambert, executive director of Terre Haute’s Department of Redevelopment. "This new building represents the sort of vision and investment in the future necessary for the community’s continued growth. Projects such as this reinforce the city’s status as Indiana’s ‘Community of the Year.’ "

The structure will be located on the southeast corner of Wabash and 9 1/2 Street. Plans call for the building to have a footprint of 11,000 square feet with a total of 33,000 square feet of leasable space.

"Adding this office building, with its extensively landscaped site, to the new Federal Building and the renovated Clabber Girl, St. Benedict’s Church and 901 Wabash will effectively create a campus-like anchor for the east end of downtown," said Paul Thrift, president of Thompson Thrift Development.

"Not only will the new building have a positive economic impact for the city, it represents another attractive new structure in the downtown area," he added. "The structure has been specifically designed to be complementary in look and feel to other buildings in that part of downtown."

The building will feature a masonry facade and will incorporate urban architectural features. Walkways and streets linked to the new structure’s site will feature plantings and brick pavers to tie the area together and enhance its aesthetics. To further boost the site’s attractiveness, existing utility poles will be removed and lines will be moved underground. In addition, the long-vacant lot on the northeast corner of 9th and Ohio streets will be improved as part of the project.

The site is within Terre Haute’s C-8 Downtown Business District, which is the city’s major center for finance, retail, professional offices and other services.

"We have made a great deal of progress over the past several years in terms of bringing downtown back. This has been accomplished through renovating and restoring older structures and building new ones," said Lambert.

"It’s gratifying to look around downtown and see improvements such as the Children’s Museum, two new hotels, a new bookstore, a renovated 901 Wabash Building and the work done at Clabber Girl," he added. "We are looking forward to completing another facet of downtown’s revitalization with this new office building and the opportunities for growth it will create."

The project is subject to the necessary approvals and support from the city of Terre Haute.

"We have been working closely with Mayor Bennett and Cliff Lambert of the city’s Department of Redevelopment to make this project a reality," said Thrift. "Without their interest and support, this undertaking would not have been possible."

Thompson Thrift Construction, Inc., will serve as the general contractor for the project.

Thompson Thrift is a full-service real estate development and construction company with offices in Terre Haute, Indianapolis and Carmel. It is currently involved in projects in eight states and in more than 30 cities across Indiana. The company employs 121 people.

Oh, and while we’re focusing on Terre Haute, congrats on a great season and NCAA tournament berth to the Missouri Valley Conference Champion Indiana State Sycamores!

Terre Haute: From Stagnation to Inspiration

Terre Haute, once labeled a "community of stagnation" by the media, has used that label as motivation to become a bright point in Indiana’s western corridor. Our Tom Schuman sat down with Rod Henry, president of the Terre Haute Chamber, to discuss what the community has done to earn the Indiana Chamber’s award as 2010 Community of the Year.

Also see this recent BizVoice article on Terre Haute’s achievements.

Noblesville: A Campus Like No Other

Individual economic development facilities are typically measured in square feet. Larger projects are touted by their acreage. What’s taking place in Noblesville is called a Corporate Campus. At an astounding 3,600-plus acres, that’s one big campus.

The industrial, commercial and housing developments taking place on the east side of the Hamilton County seat are one reason Noblesville is being honored as the 2008 Community of the Year by the Indiana Chamber. The other award winners — Business Leader of the Year and Government Leader of the Year — will be announced at the November 6 Annual Awards Dinner (featuring Newt Gingrich).

There is plenty of bang behind the size of the Corporate Campus. Stores in the Hamilton Town Centre are setting sales records. Businesses, old and new, are moving into a variety of facilities and/or building new operations. And there is room for plenty more. We look forward to telling the story in video at the awards dinner and in our BizVoice magazine.

For now, read today’s press release and check out the city’s economic development web site.