by Abdul-Hakim Shabazz
Although I am a Chicago-native, went to law school in St. Louis and make it a point to travel to Seattle every other year, Indianapolis is still my kind of town.
This is why my head is still somewhat reeling from last weekend’s mass shooting downtown which injured six people. Luckily, there were no fatalities. Unfortunately, all signs point to unsupervised juveniles with access to firearms and no or limited access to home training. And when these events happen, all the work that has gone into making downtown a safe and attractive destination gets called into question.
People need to realize just how important downtown is not only to the city’s economy but the entire state of Indiana. Allow me to put out a few facts I’ve been compiling over the last few days…
- While Downtown represents 1.6 percent of land Mass of Marion County, it generates 11.3 percent of the property tax revenue for the entire county.
- A little over $95 million in sales taxes were generated by downtown businesses in 2017, representing 8% of Marion County’s sales tax revenue.
- Almost 4 percent of all jobs in Indiana are located in downtown Indianapolis, which occupies only 0.007 percent of the state’s land area. In fact, there are 42,844 jobs per square mile in downtown Indianapolis compared to 67 jobs per square mile across the rest of the state.
- More than 37 percent of all downtown workers have a college degree.
- Downtown is also the hub for many employees in the county and the state with approximately 153,000 workers. Over 1,500 jobs were created in downtown in 2018.
- When it comes to tourism, downtown is a driving force behind the $5.4 billion spent annually in Indianapolis and the $1.26 billion collected in taxes which lowers your overall tax bill by more than $960.
It’s because of those numbers, I get worked up over shootings, as well as and what seems to be on most days the endless supply of homeless and panhandlers who populate the immediate mile square.
The leadership in this community needs to get a lot more aggressive in dealing with these problems. It’s one thing to have to call in the Ten Point Coalition and other faith-based and community groups to patrol the streets, but we shouldn’t have to do that in the first place. And it’s also high time the homeless industrial complex gets called on the carpet and we really question what they are doing to address the problem. They say the number of homeless in Indy is decreasing, you wouldn’t know that watching them doing their laundry in the fountain on Monument Circle and then using the chain on the monument to dry their clothes.
Downtown generates a lot of jobs and tax revenue that benefit not only the rest of the city but the entire state. But that won’t last if we don’t crackdown on crime before it gets out of control and we get serious about the homeless encampments that are about to show up on the Circle.
Many of us love Downtown Indy and we are not going to give it up to criminals and vagrants without a fight. This is our kind of town.
Abdul-Hakim is the editor and publisher of IndyPolitics.Org. His opinions are his own, but you are free to adopt them if you like.