Commentary: Carmel’s small business owners deserve more respect in City Hall

Small businesses are the engine that drive Carmel, and they deserve more respect than they are getting under the current city administration. As a Hamilton County Councilor, I am privileged to hear the stories of everyday residents waking up at the crack of dawn to pursue their own version of the American Dream. Turning on the lights, the computers and finding the energy each day to go out on a limb to pursue your dream takes true grit and courage. Nowhere is that more evident than here in Carmel.

Since the rails of the Monon Railroad were laid here in 1882, small business has lifted our city and repeatedly pushed it into each new promising generation. Today, those same businesses remain our key to a tomorrow that is filled with even more opportunity and promise than today. The small businesses of Carmel were built without sweetheart developer handouts, pay taxes without asking for government subsidies and meet the needs of our citizens without the safety net of a government bailout. They play a critical role in our past, present and future. These businesses deserve our respect, and more importantly, our city’s attention once more.

I have talked to countless small business owners who feel that they are being left behind and even squeezed out by the current city government, which pursues a policy of forced growth and government intervention. These policies, in turn, produce endless construction, artificially inflated rents, and special interest payouts. Our small businesses too often get left behind.

One recent example spells out the point perfectly. Carmel just recently purchased the Monon Plaza. That property was appraised for $11 million, but the city paid $15 million. The city will then give this property away for free to a private developer that promises to develop it the way that the mayor directs. With the new development, rents are expected to go from $15 to $18 per square foot to an eye-popping $28 per square foot. A majority of the business in that plaza will not be able to afford these new rents and will inevitably be forced to close or move to less-desirable locations. The mayor was recently asked about this and responded “Well, the businesses that want to stay could always take less square footage.”

Who is the mayor to make this determination and why is government getting involved in the local market at all? Isn’t the free market a better judge of what business should go where? Shouldn’t the developer pay the $15 million instead of us taxpayers? Finally, shouldn’t our small businesses at least get a chance to fight on an even playing field? I believe these questions are fair ones, and the answers to them are evident.

As your next mayor, I promise to put Carmel’s small businesses back in the city’s spotlight. I will give them an even playing field and make sure that the rules apply evenly to everyone. I will stop the practices of special interest deals, city-controlled development and fiscal irresponsibility. I promise to wake up every morning, just like those small business owners do, and fight to ensure your tax dollars are used properly and that Carmel’s small businesses lead us into our next chapter – a chapter which will prove to be our best one yet!

-Fred Glynn

Brian Szmytke