A new study by Leadership Indianapolis and Walker suggests that, when it comes to civic culture, Indianapolis may not have the competitive advantage that many people believe it does.
The study compared Indianapolis with Austin, Texas and Louisville, Kentucky on questions to assess the city's strengths and weaknesses in civic leadership and engagement.
"One of the findings is that we don't have something totally unique here," said Steve Walker, whose firm conducted the study. "I like to say, 'other people love their communities, too.' People in Louisville and Austin in general described the same level of engagement.'"
But there are differences, he said.
"Austin people really do think their city is cool and unique, and they're much more vocal about promoting it than we are in Indianapolis," he said.
Austin is the most diverse city of the three Walker studied. Compared to Indianapolis, its residents are on average, younger, earn more money and are less likely to have grown up there, he said.
"Austin really has embraced diversity and inclusion better, perhaps, than other cities. And that's important when you think about the next generation and the changing demographics of Indianapolis and the country as a whole," Walker said.
The big takeaway? Indy needs to do more to recruit and engage young professionals if the city wants to remain competitive, said Leadership Indianapolis CEO Linda Kirby.
"Pretty much every city -- and not just in America -- we are looking at talent," Kirby said Thursday on WFYI's "No Limits" show. "Talent is the new oil. I think perhaps demographically and the way we think of the two cities we compared Indianapolis to, you might think that they're different. We can always find differences, but we're all in the business of saying 'how do we get this talent? How do we keep this talent, how do we grow this talent, how do we engage this talent?"
Based on the findings, Leadership Indianapolis plans to launch several new programs including a “civic boot camp” and a “civic leadership summit.”