By Chris Bavender
There’s no doubt Carmel has changed a lot in the past 20 years – the cityscape now boasts the City Center, the Arts & Design District and many other new attractions.
But don’t expect growth to stagnate said Mo Merhoff, President of the Carmel Chamber of Commerce.
“I think that there is cautious but steady business growth. We certainly have seen that in our own chamber, and I think that projects that were previously on hold or maybe in the pipeline but slowing down due to the economy are back in planning stages,” Merhoff said.
“Housing is up – particularly closer to downtown Carmel as people are choosing to live near the opportunities downtown has to offer. (People) are saying, ‘Look at that, I can walk to Old Town. I can walk to the library or maybe to the plays,’” Merhoff said. “I think Hamilton County housing appears to be on the uptick and Carmel’s too. And, we all know that retail and business follows rooftops.”
Merhoff said the Chamber would be watching other new development possibilities as well.
“What is going to be happening with the area defined as Midtown – will anyone be stepping in to get that redeveloped? And I think 2014 will be the year we see movement with that,” she said. “There is also the new movie theater that is going in at Merchants Square. We will see what developments might be in the offing for some areas of Carmel that were planned for but slowed down due to the economy but are back on somebody’s table awaiting ideas.”
Expect to see discussion in 2014 on the business personal property tax and the controversy over that being taken away, Merhoff said.
“That initiative is going through the legislature and the fiscal impact that will have on communities, particularly with the tax caps,” she said. “Our concern from a county and city perspective is to address its impact on schools – like what happened in Muncie where they can’t afford to bus kids. It’s something facing communities in Indiana as revenue diminishes to cities and towns. We are very fortunate that we have assessed values that allow us to have good infrastructure.”
Merhoff said overall she expects to see good things for business in Carmel.
“The number of jobs that came to Carmel in the last year are impressive, and we appear to be drawing new business from other states and across county lines,” she said. “We continue to draw strong business and as a chamber we think a strong business community is a strong community.”