NewsPublic Affairs / October 8, 2013

New Chamber President Trying To 'Hit the Ground Running' In First Month

Sam Klemet
New Chamber President Trying To 'Hit the Ground Running' In First Month

The new president of the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce is in his fifth week leading the organization.

Michael Huber admits he is still settling in, but has a better understanding of the urgent needs of the community.

He insists, under his leadership, the chamber will be more active in recruiting and retaining young talent and push harder on issues such as mass transit.

"You need to provide them with a lot of options. They need to have options for where they live, options for where their kids can go to school, different options to get to work and get around," Huber said. "So, successful cities in the future aren't just going to be the primary car cities, they've got to have different options. That's where the intersections between education, and transit, and rebuilding our neighborhoods becomes so important."

Huber says his background with the Indianapolis Airport Authority and as a former deputy mayor gives him a unique perspective.  He believes Indianapolis is too dependent on tax breaks and believes the city needs to get creative in attracting the next generation of talented professionals.

"It's not our city, it's every city trying to reinvent the model," he said.  "We've got to completely rethink the way we use the tools and that's a little self-criticism on my part looking at things I think we did right and things we did wrong when I was with the city."

He says one area of focus in the short term is having the chamber collaborate more with the state to elevate technical training.

"A four year college degree is not for everybody and yet we have technical trades where you can make a lot of money and be highly skilled and go through more of a two-year degree or equivalent," Huber said.  "You'll see that chamber get more involved in workforce and training with the state, with Ivy Tech, and with other entities."

He says it’s important for lawmakers to be active next year, especially when it comes to how to recruit younger talent.

"Now I've got a front row seat looking at some of the urgent needs of the community, and everybody has different ideas on how the business community should be a force with how to address those needs - education reform, transit, infrastructure," Huber said.  "We need to have a very productive general assembly session in 2014. So, I've tried to hit the ground running there."