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With or Without Amazon, Indy’s a Contender

Indianapolis is one of the 20 finalists in the online retail juggernaut’s search for a second headquarters, and it’s got all the right components: flourishing infrastructure, a growing tech scene and affordability. According to a close-up look in Curbed, the city’s efforts to promote inclusive development, with big involvement from LISC, are strengthening neighborhoods and creating opportunity, Amazon or no Amazon.

The excerpt below is from:
Indianapolis, an Amazon longshot, has its own plans for success
by Patrick Sisson, Curbed

Denver, Chicago, Austin, New York City, sure. But Indianapolis? When Indiana’s capital was announced as one of 20 finalists for Amazon’s HQ2 competition, it was like the Wayne’s World blue-screen scene about Delaware (and the state’s lack of cultural reference points) come to life.

Other cities, with their growing tech scenes, regional transportation hubs, and long retail legacies, seemed like more appropriate contenders. For those unfamiliar with Indianapolis—and there were many—it seemed like a left-field pick.

“We don’t have a bad flavor,” says the city’s administrator for long-range planning, Brad Beaubien. “It’s more of a vanilla flavor. When we hosted the Super Bowl in 2012, people came here not knowing what to expect.”

Based on national reactions, many are still relatively unfamiliar. Naming so many finalists may play into Amazon’s plans to pit cities against each other in a race for subsidies, tax breaks, and benefits. But clearly, Jeff Bezos and others see something in the Hoosier State.

What’s unfolding in Indianapolis looks to many like a mid-size city that’s diversifying, building up transit and park infrastructure, and developing its own tech scene, all while maintaining affordability and making serious attempts at equitable development.

Indianapolis has no shortage of challenges, and attempting broad-based prosperity and actually achieving it are two radically different things. Many city officials spoke about the welcome jumpstart Amazon might provide Indy. But in many ways, large and small—with public funding for new bus rapid-transit lines, one of the nation’s fastest-growing tech scenes, the continued benefits of a new Cultural Trail, and a 2020 plan for the city’s bicentennial focused on reviving key neighborhoods—Indy already seems to be on the right path.

“We have a civic culture that’s really good at taking on and accomplishing big, common goals,” says Bill Taft, executive director of the Indianapolis Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), the local chapter of the national development nonprofit. “Look at the way we’ve invested in downtown. It’s really blossomed after the [post-Great Recession] recovery happened.” Continued [+]...