A growing economy, urban amenities and a wealth of recreational opportunities are just a few of the reasons Fishers, IN, has seen a steady stream of relocating families and also why the city debuted on our 2017 list of the Top 100 Best Places to Live. In 1990, the then town of Fishers, IN, had a population of 9,000. By 2016, the city of Fishers (Fishers transitioned from a town to a city in 2015) boasted a population of more than 88,000 and claimed the title of fastest growing city in Indiana. In a case of “the chicken or the egg,” Fishers’ quality-of-life amenities seemed to grow simultaneously with the influx of new residents.
“In a very short time, we grew tremendously and economic opportunities and quality of life grew alongside our residential population. Fishers has become a vibrant community,” says Casey Cawthon, assistant director Public Relations for the city of Fishers. “Our mayor [Scott Fadness] does a very good job of listening to what residents want, and after we transitioned to a city, it became clear that residents wanted places in the community to congregate and opportunities to walk around and explore the city. So he and our city council have worked to develop our Nickel Plate District, which now features all kinds of diverse housing units, shopping and a variety of places to eat.”
Plenty of Places to Play
Although Fishers is a mere 20 miles from downtown Indianapolis, Fishers boasts its own bevy of urban amenities, which means residents can spend more of their free time -- and money -- closer to home. The Nickel Plate District downtown is the cultural and civic epicenter of Fishers. The district is home to the Nickel Plate District Amphitheater, which hosts a free summer concert series and movies in the park as well as a number of festivals and community events throughout the year, including the Fishers Freedom Festival on Independence Day, the fall Boo Bash and the winter Frost Fest. The city’s railroad history and commitment to walkability are both embodied in a rail bed-turned walking/biking trail that runs right through downtown. Luxury apartment homes and mixed-use commercial and residential facilities have attracted more residents, particularly Millennials, to a downtown area that continues to grow.
With 24 parks, more than 60 sports fields and more than 100 miles of trails and greenways, the Fishers Parks and Recreation department adheres to the belief that a community that plays together stays together. For nine straight years, Fishers has been named a Playful City by KaBOOM!, a nonprofit dedicated to ensuring children stay active through play. Through its Nature First program, the parks and recreation department hosts every first-grader in Hamilton Southeastern Schools at the Ritchey Woods Nature Preserve. The city also hosts a number of summer camps for kids and offers free and reduced enrollment for families unable to afford camp fees.
Hard at Work
Growth is the operative word when it comes to the Fishers economy. The retail and commercial sectors are booming, bringing hundreds of new jobs. In 2016, the city announced plans to develop a $40 million restaurant and entertainment district called The Yard, which will bring 18 new, independent restaurants and a hotel.
“There are opportunities to create jobs here so that people can live, work, and play in their community. We're going to have Indy's first Ikea. We're also opening our first TopGolf. We have a [Chicago hot dog restaurant] Portillo's that's currently under construction. Once we created that sense of place and started providing those community-wide events, businesses started looking at Fishers, realized we have a great quality of life here and decided to bring their business here,” Cawthon says.
If you are looking to start your own business, Fishers may be the place for you. The city offers a number of incentives and resources for entrepreneurs and has built a reputation in Indiana for breeding innovation. Mayor Scott Fadness -- who became the city’s first mayor in 2016 -- co-founded Launch Fishers, a 50,000-square-foot entrepreneurial incubator and co-working space that has launched more than 100 companies.
“With the creation of Launch Fishers in 2012, the city became an unintentional tech hub in Indiana. We are now celebrating the total occupancy of their building. We also earlier this year announced plans for Indiana's first IoT, or Internet of Things, Lab, so we've just been really blessed in the types of businesses that have moved here and the speed at which they've wanted to move here,” Cawthon says.