Carmel mayor seeks ‘much broader look at economic development’ with newly established department


To Carmel Mayor Sue Finkam, it didn’t make much sense to have the city’s communications and economic development efforts combined in one office.

So, one of the first structural changes she made to city staffing was to relieve the marketing and communications department of its role in fostering economic development and create a separate office dedicated to retaining and attracting business. In March, the city announced that Nick Weber, a former deputy mayor for the City of Indianapolis, had been hired to fill the new role of director of economic development.

At the May 20 Carmel City Council meeting, the council took another step toward establishing the new Economic Development Department by officially funding it. The council unanimously voted to transfer $170,000 from the Marketing and Community Relations Department budget and $167,833 from the general fund to the Economic Development Department budget.

In a March interview with Current, Finkam said she wants her administration to take a “much broader look at economic development” than had been done in the past.

“Typically, our economic development has been around redevelopment and some business attraction, but usually business attraction was because of a project,” Finkam said. “I really wanted to look at workforce issues and the broader development of areas, like along U.S. 31.”

Finkam said she wants a “seamless experience” for businesses looking to relocate to Carmel, and she believes that having a department committed solely to economic development will advance that goal.

She also wants the department to ensure businesses already in Carmel remain here. She pointed to SEP, a software product development firm that announced in 2020 it would relocate to Westfield, as a missed opportunity.

“We weren’t paying attention that they were growing so fast and needed more space, and there wasn’t anything they could immediately move into,” said Finkam, who served on the Carmel City Council at the time of the relocation announcement.

Finkam said her administration has been reaching out to business owners in Carmel to ask what the city can do to help them. She also plans to revamp the Carmel Small Business Network.