By Sam Elliott
Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard delivered his annual State of the City address to a record crowd Oct. 14 at the Ritz Charles.
The luncheon was hosted by OneZone, the joint Carmel and Fishers chambers of commerce, with 600 people in attendance representing a large of collection of area businesses and organizations.
Carmel has added more than 2,300 jobs — “that we’ve been able to identify,” Brainard said — since the mayor’s last State of the City speech.
Economic development was among the main talking points of Brainard’s address, with the mayor crediting accolades received by the city’s parks and recreation department in the past year as a big help with drawing businesses to the area.
“When we have stories that put us on the cover of Money Magazine, USA Today and the New York Times, we get noticed by companies looking to expand or by employees who want to work someplace with a high quality of life,” Brainard said.
The mayor’s address included a brief video presentation, which had testimonials from business owners and employees who have enjoyed the results of their resent relocations to Carmel.
The mayor spoke on how he visits out-of-state companies to pitch them on what Carmel can offer, saying the city rarely needs to offer tax abatements because of its already low taxes.
“Sending a mayor to promote a city and using community amenities as incentives may not be the traditional approach, but it is working for us,” he said.
Brainard also touched on future growth and development, praising the city’s public-private partnerships and touting the City Center, Arts and Design District and Midtown developments among major successes for Carmel and its quality of life.
Other projects in the works include construction on two of the city’s fire stations and the police department at Civic Square. Carmel is still continuing to build roundabouts, boosting its unofficial designation as the roundabout capital of the country. It’s a distinction Brianard said may seem quirky but attracts the city attention and shows Carmel’s openness to innovation. The city will celebrate what it believes to be its 100th roundabout next year at 116th and Gray roads.
As Brainard begins his sixth term as mayor, he wants to make sure Carmel stays interesting for residents and visitors and said the city’s property tax rate should stay among the lowest in the state.
“Carmel remains one of the best values anywhere because of the low cost of living for the amenities and high quality of life provided,” Brainard said. “We want to be among the most beautiful, vibrant and successful cities anywhere — a place where we can enjoy working, playing and living, but more importantly a place where we all do more than just enjoy life and be a place where we can all thrive.”