The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, March 16, 2016 1:39 am

Panel appointed to recommend state's top Regional Cities

Niki Kelly | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Economic Development Corp. has selected a 10-member group of business executives to recommend which areas of the state should receive a windfall of cash in the Regional Cities initiative.

And the group doing the legwork on the proposed projects is exclusively from Marion County and central Indiana.

A subcommittee of the full IEDC board approved the 10 members of the Regional Cities Strategic Review Committee on Wednesday but expressed concern about the lack of geographic diversity. They encouraged the agency to add up to three more members from elsewhere in the state.

Member John Mutz – a former Republican lieutenant governor – said the list is full of top-notch people who represent only one area of the state.

"Steve Goldsmith doesn’t even live in the state. I’m not against Steve Goldsmith," he joked. "He was my running mate in 1988."

Mutz ran for governor that year and lost to Democrat Evan Bayh. Goldsmith is also a former mayor of Indianapolis.

The 10 members of the review committee are Keira Amstutz, president and CEO of Indiana Humanities; former Lt. Gov. Kathy Davis, president and owner of David Design Group; Larry Gigerich, managing director of Ginovus; Goldsmith, professor at Harvard University; Gary Hobbs, CEO at BWi; Ryan Kitchell, executive vice president and chief financial officer for IU Health; Chris LaMothe, CEO of Elevate Ventures; Mark Maassel, president of the Indiana Energy Association; Mitch Roob, executive vice president of Keramida; and John Thompson, CEO of Thompson Distribution.

One member of the IEDC subcommittee also pointed out that none of the review committee members is in the millennial age range that the project hopes to target. The goal is to establish over the next eight years a consistent, positive national brand for two Indiana regions to make them a destination for young talent.

Eric Shields, IEDC policy director, said the review committee’s members have strong competency and expertise. He also said there were practical considerations about whether people from outside Indianapolis could travel to up to five meetings in the coming months.

The review committee will start work in August with visits to some of the regions before it begins reviewing applications, which are due by Aug. 31.

Northeast Indiana’s 11-member Regional Development Authority came together the quickest and appears to be ahead of the game.

"We are seeing tremendous progress in that region," Shields said.

The committee will do most of its work in October, and the full IEDC board will make the final decision in December on which regions receive the $84 million set aside by the legislature.

John Sampson, president and CEO of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, said he is not concerned at all by the membership of the review committee.

"These people have statewide experience, and we have worked with a number of them before," he said.

Sampson also noted that the full IEDC board has three members hailing from northeast Indiana.

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