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Indy city, community leaders launch effort to bring people 'Back Downtown'

Posted at 10:04 PM, Aug 27, 2020

INDIANAPOLIS — City and community officials on Thursday unveiled a new city-wide initiative to encourage residents and visitors to visit and patronize downtown businesses.

"Back Downtown" is a partnership between Downtown Indy Inc. and Section 127 and will serve as a rallying cry to inspire residents and others to discover downtown again in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the increased calls for social justice.

"Downtown needs everyone's support and patronage now more than ever," Denny Sponsel, Downtown Indy Inc. board chair and president of RJE Business Interiors, said. "Now is the time to come back downtown in measured ways. Whether you're able to work back downtown for a few days a week, bring friends back downtown for a meal or shopping or do something fun back downtown, every bit will make our downtown stronger and recover quicker."

The new campaign was unveiled during the second of two State of Downtown presentations presented by Downtown Indy Inc. Thursday's discussion focused on ways that the downtown's recovery from the pandemic and damage from violence that followed peaceful protests back in May.

"Over the past months, Indianapolis has risen to the challenge of a global pandemic and public health crisis, coupled with a long-overdue national reckoning with racial injustice," Mayor Joe Hogsett said. "Together, we have engaged in difficult conversations, re-examined insufficient policies, and invested substantial resources into the maintenance and repair of our city's economic engine.

"I am confident that the collaboration and bold spirit that built our downtown will now help us preserve and strengthen the Mile Square as we continue to grapple with some of the greatest challenges our city has faced in its 200-year history."

Last week, the city and the Downtown Recovery Committee announced an additional $750,000 in funding from the city for safety and security enhancements to the Mile Square area of downtown. Among the focus will be increased foot and bicycle patrols from Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers, launching a safety ambassador program, and increasing the number of street-level cameras that will be part of the B.Link program.

"We have been hard at work every day for the past several months addressing the challenges that face downtown and working to renew our vibrant core to work, live, learn and play," Sherry Seiwert, president and CEO of Downtown Indy Inc., said. "These new safety tactics, combined with our partner efforts to support and expand homeless outreach efforts and housing, extend our beautification efforts, as well as market and activate downtown will have a measurable impact on our downtown with visible results."