Indianapolis after the Covid-19 Pandemic Full stream
GARVESTER KELLEY: Good morning. I'm Garvester Kelley, the regional program lead and Indiana State director within the Community Development and Policy Studies Division at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Thank you and welcome to today's project hometown forum titled Indianapolis After the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The goal of today's forum is to hear from a cross-section of Indianapolis' leaders who will share their individual and collective efforts to reopen Indianapolis' economy in a way that is inclusive, and more importantly, one that creates resiliency for the future.
Now, allow me to introduce Charles Evans, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, who will provide us with some opening remarks. Charlie?
CHARLEY EVANS: Thanks, Gar. And good afternoon, everyone. Let me add my welcome and thank you for joining us for this important discussion. As we gather today, we continue to face the dual challenges of the COVID-19 virus and recession with a combination of uncertainty and hope. The pandemic and efforts taken to contain it spread have exacted a heavy toll on the lives and livelihoods of many of our neighbors, friends and co-workers.
Though growth has resumed in recent months, we are still far from the robust economy we had previously enjoyed. The virus continues to dictate the country's prospects for a recovery from a global health crisis, even as recent news from the pharmaceutical industry offers some hope, especially with vaccination distribution on the horizon.
Earlier this year, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago launched Project Hometown to examine how communities in our region can recover from our current health and economic challenges and grow even stronger by addressing racism and other inequities.
Today's event is the 12th in a series of forums, which have brought together civic leaders, policymakers, researchers, Chicago Fed staff, and concerned residents. Several common themes have emerged in these discussions.
First, while the combination of recession and pandemic have challenged us all, rates of infection and mortality from the virus as well as job losses and business closures have fallen disproportionately on our least advantaged neighbors. Children and young adults whose lives are being disrupted at a crucial time are particularly vulnerable. The longer these challenges remain, the greater the risk of widening many pre-existing inequities in our most vulnerable communities and leaving long-lasting scars on our economy and society.
Second, our district's communities and their challenges are diverse. We need comprehensive and tailored approaches to address the unique challenges of each community. To this end, we at the Chicago Fed seek to learn more about interventions and ecosystems that are inclusive and seek to improve the resiliency of all citizens.
One year ago today, I visited Indianapolis to participate in a conversation with the leaders of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership as well as speak to the Economic Club of Indiana. At that time, I was struck by the strong public private partnerships that existed in Indianapolis as well as the strong legacy of civic engagement.
We've learned through our outreach calls with numerous stakeholders across our district that these pre-existing relationships, collaborations, and coalitions supported by strong anchor institutions have been important sources of stability and strength in the early and ongoing response to the pandemic. I'm looking forward to today's discussion and to hearing about some of the efforts underway as Indianapolis works to reopen its economy.
As communities around our region and across the nation grapple with the challenges of the pandemic second wave, we are always listening for how communities are working to recover, leverage preexisting assets, and build for the future. I want to thank the Indy Chamber, the central Indiana Community Foundation, KeyBank, central Indiana, and the Indianapolis City County Council for engaging in this discussion with us today.
Moderating today's panel discussion is Michael Huber, president and CEO of the Indy Chamber, serving nearly 2,000 member businesses with the purpose of growing Indianapolis' economy in an inclusive way. In addition, Michael serves on the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago's advisory council on agriculture, small business, and labor.
Michael, it's great seeing you again. And I, along with our virtual audience, look forward to hearing today's discussion. So take it away, Michael.
MICHAEL HUBER: Thank you, Charlie. Thank you for doing Project Hometown here in Indianapolis. We're incredibly honored. Charlie, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago does a great job providing expert analysis. Gar Kelley and the team do a great job of keeping us connected to the work of the Federal Reserve. So thank you so much for the opportunity.
I'm going to share just a couple of perspectives on Indianapolis. Some of the themes that Charlie mentioned. Then, introduce our three panelists today representing leadership of philanthropy, political elected office, and business, specifically, banking and financial services. In a few minutes, I'll introduce you to the vice president of Opportunity, Equity, and Inclusion for central Indiana Community Foundation Pamela Ross.
Our president of the Indianapolis City County Council, Vop Osili is here. And President of KeyBank for central Indiana, Juan Gonzales. So you'll be-- I'm excited to hear from them. I think you will be as well.
A couple of comments on the recovery from the perspective of the Indy Chamber representing over 2,000 business members and also the regional economic development organization for the Indianapolis region. What can you even say about the last year? It's been incredibly challenging for the entire world, certainly for the Indianapolis business community.
But one of the things that really has struck me about the last nine months has been the uneven impact. I'm going to borrow from a term that Charlie used earlier, the uneven impact of the pandemic. The disproportionate impact on communities of color in the Indianapolis region has been disturbing. The disproportionate impact on small business, including minority-owned business has been disturbing.
And although we do have a kind of community in Indianapolis which is pretty easy to navigate, is not that political compared to other places, and we're proud of that, we are-- we've been hit with impacts on families, impacts on a potential wave of evictions that may be coming, that are forcing us to scramble and mobilize in ways that we never have before.
I know that in addition to having more appreciation for our small business sector, particularly minority-owned small business, I am thinking differently about health care workers and everything they've been through. Essential workers in many industries, everything they've been through. Thinking about the teachers as someone who's got three young kids doing virtual school and in-person school.
So the uneven impacts is a very disturbing trend. Secondly, there's no way to talk about 2020 without talking about the greater awareness of racism and racial inequities in our community and all over the country with the killing of George Floyd and protests in our cities.
There is a moment and a movement that is happening right now among elected officials in our city and the private sector. A greater urgency to act. And it's not like anything I've really seen before. I think some of it is a generational shift. But some of it is also an alignment of our private sector in terms of knowing that we've got to do more as a business sector that not only is it the right thing to do, but it's in our long-term best interest as a community and as an economy.
There are a number of efforts that we will touch on as part of this conversation today. Now, I say that knowing that these moments throughout history happen and you've got to move quickly because you can also move momentum. So to say that there's been significant awareness around racism and racial inequity, we've got to take specific action steps in order to sustain those efforts in our city.
I believe that this COVID recovery is also going to make us think much more broadly and go beyond issues that we considered business issues in the past. You see issues of mental health and our need to provide more mental health services to people are becoming very much a mainstream business issue. The housing crisis spurred by the evictions are becoming much more of a mainstream business issue.
And we're using terms like community wealth building in terms of how can we take action and improve community wealth building, particularly in communities of color.
I'll introduce each of our panelists, and as I introduce them, ask them to share their perspectives for just a few minutes. First up, I would like to introduce the vice president of Opportunity, Equity, and Inclusion for the central Indiana Community Foundation, Pamela Ross. I've really enjoyed getting to know Pam Ross in this role over the last few years.
Before coming into her role, she has had a long career in community development and social services. And she is one of the leaders in our community really out in front of the need to call out systemic racism, dismantle systemic racism, and give leaders the tools to do so. So please welcome Pam Ross.
PAM ROSS: Thank you so much, Michael. That's awesome. So my name is Pamela Ross. I'm the vice president of Opportunity, Equity, and Inclusion for central Indiana Community Foundation. My position is new. I'm in my third year. In April, it'll be three years. I've been with CICF for 4 and 1/2 years. Started as a program officer.
This position was really created to make sure-- our CEO and President Brian Payne wanted to make sure that every day we had someone internally who was thinking and acting and providing leadership around our work and [INAUDIBLE] system.
It's easy to-- just because of the way that systems and structures are set up in institutions, it's easy for it to be folded into someone else's job. But it's also easy, then, to not be one of those faces who challenges our systems and our ways of thinking and how we are actually operationalizing the issues around equity [INAUDIBLE] but definitely racial equity.
So every day, my job is to look-- as in organizationally-- look at our systems. Everything from hiring to grant making to donor relations to biodiversity. And really work with each of the departments and everyone on our staff to come to a goal of becoming an anti-racist, multicultural organization. We didn't get there overnight. We're now into our fifth year of going from thinking about this, understanding some of the dates that we'll talk about today, that 2020 has actually gotten worse.
But how, as a community foundation, could we be responsive to the data. And one of the things that we found that we couldn't run away from was that race had a profound impact on the data, on issues of poverty, on issues of who does and does not have a job. And who has stable housing and why.
And so that is a part of my work every day. We changed-- we didn't only just change-- add a new executive level position and add a new department into our infrastructure. But we also changed the mission and being 101-year-old organization at that time, now 104, primarily built around privileged, wealthy, white people.
We changed our mission to be focused on mobilizing people, investments, and ideas to create an equitable central Indiana where everyone has an opportunity to reach their [INAUDIBLE] race or identity. So we went from being where we're a foundation that still is investing in the community, still is very connected to and wanting to make sure that we're good stewards of donors who want to make investments in their community.
And also wanting to make sure that we're a community leader as we have stepped into the space with our work in dismantling systemic racism. But we also wanted to be much more [AUDIO OUT] about why we exist and what it is [AUDIO OUT] achieve. So that's a little bit about me. As Michael said, I have been in community-based work for social services all of my career and going into philanthropy four years ago.
And that has made a difference as well as in this space that I hold because a lot of the work that we have to come to understand is at a grassroots on the-- boots on the ground, hands on, high touch levels. And Michael, I love the way that you've laid out what we have going on in our city and I'm really looking forward to discussion that we'll have around [AUDIO OUT].
MICHAEL HUBER: Thank you, Pam. We're going to introduce the president of the city county council, Vop Osili, somebody that I've known for over a decade. Like Pam, he's been a huge influence on me and on our organization. We're fortunate to have him serving as the president of our City County Council. President Vop Osili, previous to being in elected office, had a long career in architecture, real estate development, entrepreneurship, and he's known as someone who brings people of different views together, including leaders of both major political parties.
Again, it's an honor to have him on our panel this morning. President Vop Osili.
VOP OSILI: Hey, good morning. Thank you, Michael, for the invitation to join you today. I'm thrilled at the opportunity to connect with you and our host [INAUDIBLE]. Because connection is what we in Indianapolis and our neighbors across the country need most in these difficult days. And I think connection has not always been easy to find.
In my own lifetime, I'm not sure whether the fabric of our society has been stretched or frayed [AUDIO OUT] as it has been during this tumultuous year. But dark as some of these days have been, we as a community have a tremendous opportunity for us to look toward a post-COVID world and begin to repair that fabric of society and our local economy.
That opportunity lies in our collective [AUDIO OUT] equity, most specifically racial equity. While the case for racial equality can and does rest firmly on moral grounds, I believe that the concept of equity will play an enormous global economic recovery and growth in [AUDIO OUT] Indianapolis.
By 2040, a majority of [AUDIO OUT] will be people of color. And by 2044, people of color will be the majority population in the United States. This is not an ethnic or cultural [AUDIO OUT]. It's an economic one. Research demonstrates that companies with more diverse workforces have higher revenues, more customers, and greater market share.
Advancing racial equity does not mean that everyone will achieve the same level of success. It cannot. It does, however, require that we create conditions to fully and fairly-- so that all employees, customers, and suppliers have the opportunity to reach their full potential.
So the challenges are enormous [AUDIO OUT]. Nationally, the median net worth [AUDIO OUT] is 13 [AUDIO OUT] households. 10 times that [AUDIO OUT] households. [AUDIO OUT] 32,000, compared with almost [INAUDIBLE] for one [AUDIO OUT]. Right now, in Marion County, one in five [AUDIO OUT] are black. [AUDIO OUT] one in [AUDIO OUT].
If you [AUDIO OUT] just a bit, you'll find 53% of the city's Black residents are living with incomes either below, or two times below, poverty, compared with 35% of white residents. Addressing these discrepancies could [AUDIO OUT] economic gains. In from the National Equity Atlas, [AUDIO OUT] national GDP could be up to $2 trillion higher. Wage disparity between white employees and employees of color eliminated. Imagine [AUDIO OUT] local [AUDIO OUT] if we unlocked even a fraction of that [AUDIO OUT].
And that's just if we eliminate the disparity in wages, to say nothing of the correlated disparities in benefits like health insurance. Throughout the spring and summer, black residents tested positive for COVID-19 at a rate nearly twice that of white residents. 26 more [AUDIO OUT] 26% more likely to not have health insurance.
We have not even begun to grapple with the financial cost of providing health care [AUDIO OUT]. Those costs will [AUDIO OUT] our economic recovery [AUDIO OUT]. [AUDIO OUT] to the [AUDIO OUT] to both health insurance and health care. [AUDIO OUT] I would say the more we examine [AUDIO OUT] is that they're covered.
So it's time to [AUDIO OUT] that racial equity is as vital to our economic health as it is to our [AUDIO OUT]. And it is critical-- it is a critical building block-- the critical building block-- of Indianapolis' future as a city, with an inclusive community, a thriving economy, and a talented, diverse workforce. And this, I believe, Michael, is a vision that we can share. Thank you.
MICHAEL HUBER: Thank you, President Osili. As I transition to KeyBank President Juan Gonzales, I will-- I'll brag a little bit. All three of our panelists today, even though they represent on this panel philanthropic, political elected leadership, and private sector, all three have been very-- in their institutions, have been involved in significantly increasing dollars to small businesses in Indianapolis reaching a disproportionate number of minority businesses-- minority-owned businesses.
Now, we're not under any illusion that this is fixing the challenges of COVID. And yet, it's been a really exciting time. And our next panelist, President Juan Gonzales, has been at the forefront of a lot of those efforts both as president of KeyBank in central Indiana. Also as an Indy Chamber board member and executive committee member. So I'm on my best behavior this morning.
Just a personal note, too. I've known him for over a decade. He serves on many different civic boards. He personally has been a huge catalyst for expanding mass transit in the Indianapolis region as a long-term board member of our transit corp IndyGo. Here with us this morning is the president of KeyBank, Juan Gonzales. Juan, welcome.
JUAN GONZALES: Thank you, Michael. Good morning. And it is a great honor for me and for KeyBank to be here today with all of you. And I couldn't agree more with Chairman Evans introduction when he mentioned the public private partnership that we have in central Indiana as a strong tool for us to be successful and to help each other get stronger.
I've been in Indianapolis now for over 20 years. So I guess, technically, I'm a Hoosier now. And my family's here. We're raising three kids. A great community to be at. And with KeyBank, 11 years. And in this role, almost three years.
So again, great history with the company in the sense that they always have been true to themselves. Helping communities thrive, helping our clients drive, our employees and their families getting stronger is part of our fabric. And we do that every year, every day. Without their support, their strong commitment, we couldn't do what we do as a company.
So I want to reemphasize how critical the business community, the private sector is to be part of the solution to some of these challenges that we're facing. And again, in Indianapolis, we're very lucky to have a system and a group of people like the Chamber of Commerce and the city of Indianapolis and the philanthropic community that we all have, I want to say, a seat at the table. We all are talking all the time.
I actually met Vop many years ago at a leadership class. And many of us are still here in the community working to continue to advance that flag, if you will, of making a better city and a more inclusive city. From KeyBank's perspective, again, it's not just investing dollars. I mean, I can tell you the millions of dollars that we have invested in different programs here.
But more importantly, it's partnering with our not for profit, with our community partners to make sure that we are investing in the right places. But two, that education remains a frontal piece of all we do. Financial wellness, financial education, those are terms that sometimes we take for granted.
But Michael, as you know, and the more we hear from our constituents, the more the need to understand some of this terminology. To understand why it is important to have an account and a credit score and all of those things that matter.
So for example, home ownership continues to be strong. And we can continue to help people have access to that home that is the biggest purchase-- the biggest asset that most of us are going to have in our lifetime. So looking forward to a great conversation today, Michael, and thank you again for the invitation. And here we are. Let's go.
MICHAEL HUBER: No, thank you. Well, again, we're very well prepared by Gar Kelley and the team. We've got questions submitted by registrants to the program. I'm going to start off with-- I think I'll start with you, Juan. Many of our questions are around specific activities and action steps necessary to reopen and restore the economy to advance a more resilient and a more inclusive economy.
So Juan, since you went last, I'll start with you. When you think about the specific activities and action steps to have a successful recovery, especially one that's inclusive, what comes to mind?
JUAN GONZALES: No, so thank you for the question, Michael. So first and foremost, of course, having the vaccine is a huge step forward for all of us to start thinking in that direction.
There is definitely a need to have more access to capital across the spectrum. Small business, medium business, but in particular, small businesses. We were able to help a number of them through PPP and some internet programs that the bank provided this year for sure.
But we see that as a huge opportunity for all of us to get the Indianapolis economy going. As you know very well, downtown, for example, the hospitality industry, the food and beverage industry has been hit very hard. And that's one of the engines of the city of Indianapolis for job growth and for investment growth.
So we need to make sure, as soon as possible, that we can get back to some kind of normal where we can provide access to capital to these businesses that, in many ways, are trying just to survive. And the next 60 days are going to be very important for them to stay afloat. So we're hopeful that something comes through Congress today, tomorrow, this weekend that will provide some additional help for them.
And then, the final part, Michael, I think we got to be able to do a better job in connecting people to jobs. I know IndyGo and the transportation industry here locally are working very hard to continue to grow our BRT lines and all of that. But it is very critical that people have access to jobs. And that connectivity will allow us to do so. In addition to access to Wi-Fi and the internet.
So there's a few things that we've got to work really hard on. But I think-- I'm very optimistic. I think the resilience that we have shown as a community and the coming together is going to help us get there sooner than later.
MICHAEL HUBER: Pam, I'd like to take the same question to you. When you think about the specific action steps as-- to build a more inclusive economic recovery, what are the first things that comes to mind for you and for central Indiana Community Foundation?
PAM ROSS: Sure. Michael, I think my first answer may sound kind of, I don't know, pollyannish. I don't know. But I mean, I think in one of the things that we have to hold on to coming out of 2020 is optimism and hope. And I think one of the things that we can hope for and one of the things that we can do that seems so abstract because I don't think it's the world that we work within as institutions is really re-imagining our industries, re-imagining our approaches to see where we have learned in 2020 and what gaps really do we need to fix.
Changing a language around programs and projects and even as Juan mentioned the word wealth. You mentioned wealth versus the whole thing of how do we create jobs. We have to really start to think about, especially where we hold power and influence and resources, what is the best way us-- what is the best [AUDIO OUT] resources that we have? And how much of that is being determined by people that we're talking about are most impacted? One of the things-- when we talk about vulnerable, we don't really even use the word "vulnerable" anymore at CIFC.
Because some of that vulnerability we have to own. And so, really, what we use is unappreciated. They're underappreciated, unappreciated people who have interesting talents that we have left out [AUDIO OUT]. As Juan talks about access, when we talk about access, we need to really re-imagine the way that we create access. And we need to re-imagine who we actually bring to the table and how we bring them to the table. So surveys and forums and focus groups, all of those can serve a purpose. But they're not-- they have not shown to be totally effective.
So we're a resourceful community. We are a resourceful community, even in the midst of evictions. Being number two in the nation. And having some really solid unfortunate spaces of which they were there before the pandemic.
But I think that if we can find ourselves, especially people in leadership positions or whatever seat that you hold to start to think about, how do you become aware, much more aware? And how do you re-imagine what it is you are [AUDIO OUT] in a way that can create the most impact? And a lot of that re-imagination will come from what we learned in 2020 and ways that we really did critically pivot.
And it's unfortunate-- Michael, you had mentioned George Floyd. It's unfortunate that his murder-- his death really awakened us in a way we never have been before as it relates to [AUDIO OUT]. But yet, he was not the first. So how are we now in the midst of so much darkness in COVID-19 in the year 2020, how are we utilizing that to really re-imagine ourselves as individuals. But definitely, how we do things in the community via the resources, the power, and influence.
MICHAEL HUBER: I appreciate that. President Vop Osili, Pam Ross used the word resourceful and resourcefulness. And it makes me think, I have to thank you more often than I do and the City County Council for your resourcefulness this year. Just one of many things, taking the CARES Act dollars and leveraging those. Directing them to small businesses in need and directing those to other communities in need.
As you think about the action steps necessary to help us recover, what are the first things that come to mind from your perspective?
VOP OSILI: There are two things, short-term and long-term [AUDIO OUT]. The very first one is coordinating the vaccine goal and housing market equity and understanding the impact that has on the populations Pam talked about, under-appreciated or unappreciated communities.
And the second is continuing to provide direct resources and support with resources, the resources that we have within our hands on things like rental assistance and small business assistance, nonprofit assistance, and food access and support for education. Those are prime right now at a time when we don't know what tomorrow brings.
And then, the long-term [AUDIO OUT] is, obviously, to look for additional support. We have to have it. But we also have to realize that if that doesn't come, that we're going to have some difficult conversations about the budget and [AUDIO OUT] in a way that is inclusive [AUDIO OUT].
And then, continue to make strategic investments like we are doing right now with [AUDIO OUT] convention center expansion. Because we will not always be in this health crisis, and we have to be prepared for when that dissipates and folks get back to work and have to get back to work. We're a convention city. We've been impacted by this because of the shutdown-- so many of our annual conventions.
But we have to be ready and prime when that happens and continue to look in the long-term the long view, how are we preparing ourselves as we come out of this. And then, of course, probably one of the most important ways that we can be thinking is how we're looking at [AUDIO OUT] and building our support systems around those. And then the pipelines for additional [AUDIO OUT] and supplies.
That component about employment and housing and access is [AUDIO OUT] had not recognized our own [AUDIO OUT] in not having a robust safety net. This has opened our eyes to that. This has opened our eyes in local government. We've got [AUDIO OUT] for these things. But these are things [AUDIO OUT] the vision going forward.
And then [AUDIO OUT] objectives, and then we'll talk about what an amazing city Indianapolis is when it comes to partnerships and how we have a history of doing that. But we'll [AUDIO OUT] remain [AUDIO OUT] in partnership [AUDIO OUT] fighters and not-for-profits and our other local [AUDIO OUT].
[AUDIO OUT] the new way [AUDIO OUT]. Need to know all our resources and [AUDIO OUT] where those [AUDIO OUT] go. [AUDIO OUT] of those who might be impacted [AUDIO OUT].
MICHAEL HUBER: No, absolutely. I think you cut out for a second there, President Osili, so I didn't get to the very end. I apologize. I am going to ask you to comment, if you can briefly, and I want to hear from Pam and Juan on this too. I think we all-- we've all been brought up in this Indianapolis civic community and it does have, obviously, a lot of positive aspects to it. And I think it's pretty easy to navigate. There's a nonpartisan ethos here.
And yet, we have a lot of challenges, too. We're going to need political changes to do-- and changes to laws to do the kinds of things you're talking about. President Osili, you led a group to take a first step to make policing policy more transparent. You can read-- if you're joining us from other markets, you can read about this with the Indianapolis City County Council Prop 237-- Proposal 237.
Without going into all the details, it brought more civilian oversight to police policies and a coalition of leaders got it done. It was very controversial and very difficult. But President Osili, I'm going to start with you and ask you if you could say a few words about the need for the political will to make changes. I'm going to ask-- and to partner across sectors, I'll ask Pam Juan to comment as well. President Osili?
VOP OSILI: Michael, I'm not sure that [AUDIO OUT] last bit, but [AUDIO OUT] we're talking about [AUDIO OUT] partnership [AUDIO OUT]. We experience that even in this very, I think, important [AUDIO OUT] proposal. And when we got-- what we realized is [AUDIO OUT] of our-- not just our residential community and-- it was the voice also of corporate community that we needed to have more engagement in a sense of government.
And that geopolitical proposal had a little controversy. But what's amazing about it is that we've got [AUDIO OUT] for example, [AUDIO OUT]. There was a private architecture firm that came forward [AUDIO OUT]. Those kinds of innovations are the way forward when we are coming together and speaking with one voice.
And the more that we can [AUDIO OUT] that one voice, the greater the impact on our communities. I do believe that what should be gone are those days when we [AUDIO OUT] and when we [AUDIO OUT] our resources. Indianapolis [AUDIO OUT], I think we can all agree, has days [AUDIO OUT] of partnerships, even when it comes to issues like [AUDIO OUT]. That was so powerful.
Building those coalitions, working in partnership, we saw what can get done in times of crisis, that we didn't have to wait for months or years for things to happen, but that we act on what we knew and [AUDIO OUT] as a body. And in [AUDIO OUT].
MICHAEL HUBER: I appreciate it. Pam Ross and CSCO. I've seen your organization more in the middle of a political policy discussions now than ever before. And again, it's a similar question is what I asked President Osili. You get the sense that to make some of these changes that we're talking about takes changes to business practice, but oftentimes, government policy, too.
Are you seeing more of an openness from the business community even like parts of the business community that are majority white coming to you to participate in these discussions to hopefully lead to change?
PAM ROSS: Yeah, absolutely. With you, Michael, and your leadership in the chamber being one. Absolutely. There is a greater willingness but also intentionality around how can we do better in these spaces that Vop talked about. And so what we're doing, a lot of the times, is being a part of the discussion so that we can not just lead, but we can partner in filling gaps.
So economic mobility is one of our leadership initiatives among five that we have with dismantling systemic racism being the overarching space that we hold within our leadership initiative. So this uneven impact is our focal point. And so wherever we are, not just invited, but wherever that we can, actually, request some-- I don't know that we've insisted yet, but I think that right now there's an open invitation to bring us to the table to talk about what we have learned specifically right now around the work in equity and definitely racial equity.
But also, in the spaces we've held before as a partner in the community, what can we use as far as our expertise and our knowledge and perspectives and apply them?
MICHAEL HUBER: Thank you. Juan Gonzales, in terms of how the banking and financial services industry is changing, I'm interested to-- toward inclusion. And I say this knowing that you've been way out in front of this. I've learned a lot from you. You chaired the Hispanic Business Council and you've helped me understand-- when you talk about the business community, there are entire segments of the business community that a lot of times the mainstream community doesn't think about.
Maybe we have an opportunity now. What times what types of changes are on the horizon that you think are important from your industry?
JUAN GONZALES: No, for sure, Michael. I think the industry is moving extremely quick into the notion of technology and access to online banking. And I know we have heard that for a while now. But I think COVID had show us that the banking industry needs to be-- more than ever have the tools to support clients and anyone out there that is in need for banking services, right?
So you're talking about this internet technology to do one on one conversations. Buying a home, doing home ownership education. Again, trying to empower people to have a much more control of their destiny, if you will, what we call financial wellness. It has been very clear that people want to want to take control of it, but too, they want to have the tools and resources.
So again, in the banking industry, you're seeing less traffic at the branches. And what we know as the branches today are more traffic on the online banking systems where people are feeling more comfortable sharing data and applying for loans.
And it's the same for the business side. Through PPP, we-- the Payment Protection Plan, we saw a number of institutions creating applications online so people could have access to the programs in a way that was real time and also that they could load the information themselves.
These things are not going to slow down. I think they're going to accelerate, Michael. So I think that access to internet and Wi-Fi capabilities for all of us as we hear in the education system today, that is such a needed tool. It's the same for, I think, any banking financial industry today as it will be tomorrow.
So the more that we can educate people to utilize the online banking tools, in particular, communities of color that they have been disproportionately affected, not just by COVID but, historically, by access to banking services. So we need to do more on that education front.
We partner with a number of not for profits here locally. For example, KeyBank does to provide some of those resources. Access to Wi-Fi, access to computers. But more important, empowering people that it is OK to use the internet to do your business. That you don't have to have paper. You can do it with paper.
But today's world is moving so fast, Michael, that the quicker we adapt to that, I think, the better the community is going to be overall.
MICHAEL HUBER: Yeah. Pam, I have a question for you and then I have one for one for president Osili. And so and I'm looking at-- we've hit a lot of the pre-submitted questions so far. But one of them are those specific partnerships. And one thing that all of you have mentioned is to get the scale and to reach 10x the number of people and families that we're reaching today with some of these solutions, I mean, I think it's pretty obvious, it's going to require different partnerships that bring together public sector, private sector, and philanthropy.
But to do that, Pam, requires a level of trust to be built. And we also know that we're living in a time where a lot of the people that we need to reach with more resources have a mistrust of institutions. One of the questions-- pre-submitted questions is how you bring people together. So it's like, before you even talk about partnerships, I know you have to have trust in the room.
And so are there strategies and tools that are serving you in terms of building trust across communities?
PAM ROSS: Yeah, that's a hard question sometimes, Michael. Because you have the tools. And let's just say we're talking about racial equality. There is a plethora, especially right now, of books, podcasts, trainings that people can commit-- just have a greater historical understanding, especially if you're an individual who's not used to-- does not have a sphere of people who do not look like you and you're white.
But I think more so what we don't lean into is that institutions are built around a culture that identifies efficiency sometimes as quickly. And quickly often means it leaves people out of the equation. What I have found as far as what trust means when you come to the table is how much time are you willing to commit.
You don't want to commit time for the sake of causing more harm. Or if you're-- especially in this space, if it's going to-- to what impact does it mean for profit? But if you're looking at long sustainability and sustained change, then you need to bring time into a factor if trust is what you're speaking.
Sometimes, even understanding that people will come to the table first of all, with hope. And because of the fact that hope has been lost so many times at the hands of institutions and power is quite frankly why people with power that that is where the trust is broken. There has to be a commitment of time and authenticity, which authenticity means vulnerability. Vulnerability means telling the truth. And it also then reflects in the case of awareness.
So if we're going to get really [AUDIO OUT] and really into authentic initiatives, we have to understand that it takes time and we have to understand that it's not something you can cognitively-- intellectually find your way into. You have to, actually, build an essence of relationship building and a deeper understanding. And yes, we still need to get things done.
But we also have to bring into this, do we want to keep getting things done the same way, or do we actually want to change the way that we do things? And I have several of examples of where CICF has done that and we haven't totally fallen apart. Have we felt like the times we're going to fall apart? Absolutely. Because we're going against the norms of how we typically operate.
But on the other end of it, it has been fruitful. And I think that that is another one of those things when I talked about re-imagining is that seems like it's so-- that's not a big deal. But it is a big deal. If you want to build trust, it's a huge deal. It's equity is the enemy. I mean, I'm not-- greed is the enemy to equity.
And so where we can find spaces to do it differently we should.
MICHAEL HUBER: That's really helpful. And again, we are fortunate we have organizations like CICF, if you're in business, if you're a company or an institution and come forward and say, we know we've got a problem, but we don't know where to go. It's great to have resources like CICF.
Juan, I'm going to take it back to you then President Osili with this question and that is, the mechanics of these partnerships, I know you're very much a realist. You bring a realistic view to our chamber board and executive committee. But if we were going to-- if we were just going to significantly increase numbers of people with these partnerships, what are some of the essentials in your mind?
JUAN GONZALES: No, Michael, I think there is two parallel tracks, I guess, in my view. The internal one here in the company and the external one with our community. And an internal peace, I will tell you that we have been very much into education of our employees on what it means to be different, racial injustice, social injustice, racial divisions, access to opportunities.
And we encourage our employees to participate in not for profit boards or events that they feel passionate about. And that is very important because they need to feel like the company is behind them to be able to volunteer their time and effort that it takes.
So I say that-- and I challenge them all the time every day, like I challenge you at the chamber all the time on making sure that they're raising their hand and bringing the issues to the front table. Because we are all busy. And unless people are raising the issues to us, it's not easy to address those issues right away.
So that's an internal piece of it, the education. On the external front, Michael, I tell you, we are working really hard to find more minorities to be on board. More people like Pam and myself and some of our friends that you know well that they seem to be the usual suspects. And we're very grateful to be those guys and ladies. But we need more.
So that young professionals new class of executives that is coming up the ranks, we need to engage them on these community efforts now. Because they're going to be the next leadership of this city and all of these companies that work together.
So the sooner we can get more of these younger professionals, in particular minorities, to sit on these boards and in these committees where the discussions are happening, I think the better we're going to be in the near future. And I know you guys are doing a tremendous amount of work on that in the Chamber of Commerce with the young professional programs and the leadership exchange program and bringing some of the new talent to those meetings.
But we, as a whole, need to do more of that. I think CICF has been very vocal, especially lately, about that, too, on bringing new talent to the board. So I think the sooner we can bring some of that energy together, we can make progress quicker. It takes time, as you know. And I would be remiss if I don't say that we got to congratulate Vop and the city of Indianapolis on being flexible on a year like this year where they had done some things outside the box to create partnership and opportunities for the community to remain strong and to survive this COVID crisis.
MICHAEL HUBER: Absolutely. President Osili, I'll never forget for the rest of my life early on this summer when you said, what if we could set-- create a leverage fund for small business lending? And I was thinking you're going to say three, four million. And you said, what if we could get to 20 million or higher? And my job totally dropped. And so, again, you've-- that's just one example of partnerships that the council and the mayor have created.
But again, the question around to reach scale-- to reach many more people just brass tacks, what additional thoughts do you have?
VOP OSILI: I was caught by a word that Pam used a moment ago and one that we'd had on a conversation, Pam and myself, and some others CICF and the council. And that word was authenticity. We're going to have to commit the time to listen and then to act. And then, to measure our progress and then to refine it.
And by that, government oftentimes is held, I think, folks hold it an arm's length. And there may be a lot of skepticism that goes alongside of it. But we've got to be able to create the forums where we can listen and where we can, then, act on what we've heard, and then, as I said, to measure and then to refine it.
And in order for us to do that, we've got to be able to walk into those spaces with trusted partners. Those who community members already have a level of trust in that can then, I think, allow us into the room to be heard or to hear and then to act on those things. But it's got to be intentional on all of our part-- in government's part, and that we'd be authentic in getting that done.
Just last-- our last council meeting, we just stood up a new youth council. And it is not specifically targeted to, but it will focus pretty heavily on system impacted youth and asking them to provide advice and counsel to the council. So that we are hearing from diverse voices, diverse backgrounds. And hearing things that we, in our little bubble, may not be able to hear, may not have exposure to hear.
Just in thinking-- just as Juan had said right now, these will be the future leaders of our city. And how do we give them a platform to be heard? And then, provide ourselves, as council members, the ability to adapt? Once again, to listen to what our constituents are saying and to be authentic about it. To listen to them and to try and get as many diverse voices as possible.
And the other thing that we've been talking about, and this is what Pam and I and others were talking about just yesterday, and that is we had made a promise that we were going to create another series of community conversations for members of our community around the city not just centralized, but decentralized, with the facilitation being by trusted partners and allowing people to say what they really do feel.
And allowing us, then, the opportunity to hear it. And from that, to be able to act on it. Because part of this whole-- part of the challenge is trust and the breakdown of trust over the course of generations when it comes to promises that have been made by government and not kept. Words that have been spoken and not followed through with.
And we have to stop. We have to stop and think, are we being authentic? Do we really mean this? And if so, this is how we have to go about doing it. We have to hear from our constituents because the decisions that we make impact them the most.
So it is this idea of the community conversation, it's with the youth council, it's with dealing with partners such as yourself, Michael, with the chamber. I give you numerous examples. How, then, do we hear? How, then, do we listen? How, then, do we begin to act on those things? And not just once, but to make the determination that we will measure the impact of the actions that we've taken. And then, we will refine them until we get them right.
I think that's the way forward for, at least, on our end of the spectrum.
MICHAEL HUBER: I'm going to pose two quick hit questions. Obviously, the time-- I always enjoy talking to the three of you and the time just flies by. Two quick hit questions in the time we have allotted. The first one is-- and I'm going to respond to some of the challenges in the questions from respondents very specific strategies.
So I'm going to ask you to say thumbs up, thumbs down, or what am I missing. And that is the specific next steps. I'm going to say synthesizing your comments and others about what are the very specific next steps we need to take in this community for the positive recovery.
I'm just going to-- they're not the only three things that need to happen, but they are three things that keep coming up. Expanding the support system for small business, particularly, minority owned small business. Addressing housing to scale in ways we have not before. We're very blessed to have INHP-- Moira Carlstedt, if you're watching-- great organizations like that.
And we're going to have to-- the general business community is going to have to be looking at housing and wealth building for the purpose of wealth building in a way we have not before. Third, I'm going to say, large scale business behavior change. We hope in 2021 to talk about a new initiative called Business Equity for Indy where we've got the Lilly pledge on racial equity. Our company Lilly has enrolled many other companies who want to significantly move the needle in their procurement practices and hiring practices. More on that in 2021.
So I'm going to say, the entrepreneurial ecosystem, housing to wealth building, large scale business behavior change are three huge levers that we need to pull through partnerships. I'm going to start with President Osili. Thumbs up, thumbs down, are there things that you would add off the top of your head?
VOP OSILI: So a thumbs up. And then, the second component would be voices in the room and a focus on equity.
MICHAEL HUBER: Yes. Pamela Ross.
PAM ROSS: I think I agree with President Osili. I'm just going to stick with-- I woke up this morning, Michael, with this panel on my mind. And I'm going to stick with the one word is re-imagining. I would encourage our leaders to really be in a space of re-imagining your space and what you do.
MICHAEL HUBER: Juan.
JUAN GONZALES: Michael, thumbs up. But I will add the access to internet. That Wi-Fi access across the community. That, to me, is as critical as anything else. We have learned something this year is we need to give access to people. Not just for financial institution services, but overall, as you know. If we can get there, we'll be very well-positioned for the future.
MICHAEL HUBER: One thing that keeps coming back-- and if you're watching this from other markets, the mechanics and the specifics of these efforts work. But the way in which you go about bringing people to the table and reaching people in marginalized communities is something that I'm appreciating more and more that I-- in a way that I didn't before. Final question to our panelists. I'm going to go Juan, Pam, and then President Osili.
If we failed to build on this momentum, what does that look like? Can you envision that future? And then, maybe end on a positive. If we are successful, what will that look like? So starting with Juan. Envision a future in which we-- if we miss the opportunity. And then, envision a future in which we do. What does that look like?
JUAN GONZALES: Yeah, no, if we fail, I think the challenges of the great trust that we face historically are going to exponentially expedite. We're going to lose a tremendous amount of youth moving to other cities and other regions. If we do it right, the other way around, right? We're going to be the center for all of those talented people to move in and the environment is going to grow exponentially in ways that we can even dream about. Not just in central Indiana, but the connectivity across the state will be significant.
MICHAEL HUBER: Pam.
PAM ROSS: Sure. So I would say if we fail, then-- and this is a pretty bold statement, but it's top of mind, is we get more of 2020. What we experienced in 2020 is not going to go away. It was here before and it's going to-- and it will just get worse. So we have to decide that we will wake up.
And if we are successful, we will see, especially in the context of this conversation, what inclusiveness can mean to our economy. What it truly can mean when we are no longer marginalized people. But actually, appreciating the talents and gifts that they bring to the table if we give them access and we truly create equality.
MICHAEL HUBER: Thank you. President Vop Osili.
VOP OSILI: If we fail, we will have what we've always had and the disparities. But I think that this has changed so much that that failure will be even more robust. If I could even say that. It would be even more catastrophic and we will pay the price.
But if we are successful, we will develop an incredibly robust economy. And then, Indianapolis then becomes a city of hope and fulfillment of potential. And I think that that is the American promise to all of us. And it's up to us, I think, to live up to that with all intentionality being as focused as we possibly can.
MICHAEL HUBER: Inspiring words. Thank you, President Osili. And I'm just-- I'm incredibly appreciative of our panelists today, one, to be able to get to work with them here in Indianapolis on a regular basis, but I've learned things from their perspectives bringing perspectives from different industries.
So I want to thank our three panelists, Juan, Pam, President Vop Osili. And I want to thank Gar Kelley and the team at the Chicago Federal Reserve for staying connected to us, providing all kinds of support to our Indianapolis community. Gar, I think it's this part in the program where I throw it back to you. Thank you for the opportunity to be here.
GARVESTER KELLEY: Thank you, Pam, Juan, Mike, and Vop for sharing your thoughts on realizing a future and to Indianapolis that's inclusive and resilient for all of your stakeholders. And you are so correct. There is no room for failure at a time like this.
And as we close out 2020, probably one of the worst years in all of our lifetimes, I want to gratefully pause to wish you a warm, happy, and healthy holiday season. And I also want to extend the best throughout the New Year. Thank you, again, and goodbye.