4D: Local Retail/Food Development
Small business entrepreneurs in the retail and restaurant sectors add a particular uniqueness to a destination. The last decade, the Indy region enjoyed great growth in the number and quality of independently-owned establishments, and while it will take time to recover from unprecedented pandemic losses, these businesses will remain an essential ingredient to both visitor attraction and resident quality of life. Support programs that help entrepreneurs start these businesses, including those that reduce barriers to entry with low-cost temporary or mobile platforms. Support programs that sustain these businesses, including efforts to promote and reward resident and visitor patronization of them such as limited-time menu promotions and Indy’s Craft Pass. Such support should focus on clusters of local businesses, like those in downtown and cultural districts, but also be available to small businesses across Indy.
Value to the CommunityLocally owned shops and restaurants reflect the entrepreneurial spirit of our community and provide economic opportunity regardless of background. Revenues from locally owned businesses also are recycled within the community at a higher rate than other types of businesses--shopping local has an outsized positive impact on the local economy. Food and retail also often serves as the face of a community, welcoming others and offering a very approachable way to share diverse cultures.
Value to the Hospitality IndustryLocal retail and restaurants are what distinguish Indy from other places and contribute significantly to a visitor's impression of our city. Local food tourism in particular is increasingly a driver for visitors.
- September 2023. Small Business Saturday. Circle Center Mall hosts a monthly small business showcase, allowing shoppers to explore various goods that support local small businesses.
- March 2023. Indy Craft Pass 2.0. Initially launched in 2019, the Indy Craft Pass encouraged visitors and locals to explore local businesses and receive awards in return. It was an instant success. The system is now getting a reboot to make it easier for users to earn rewards with a new point system and give them more flexibility in using points.
- February 2023. Incubator Program looking for Entrepreneurs. On the northwest side of Indy is a neighborhood incubation program for aspiring entrepreneurs who wish to turn their side hustle into a business. The Neighborhood Incubator for Creatives, Hustlers, and Entrepreneurs first launched in 2020 with the Crooked Creek Northwest Community Development Corporation. Although not the plan from initial conception, they now emphasize helping minority communities find more equitable avenues towards entrepreneurship. So far, they have provided 150+ hours per year in business education to 15+ residents, three launching their businesses.
- February 2022. In the Mix initiative launched. A new program to build Black-owned retail and restaurant businesses in downtown Indianapolis was launched with three participants. Support includes business coaching, financial assistance for buildout of stores and help with negotiated lease payments.