This Indianapolis suburb breaks out of its shell with economic growth, hometown culture, and community engagement.
A growing economy, urban amenities and a wealth of recreational opportunities are just a few reasons Fishers, IN, has seen a steady stream of relocating families, more than earning its stripes on our list of the Top 100 Best Places to Live.
In 1990, the town of Fishers had a population of 9,000. Today, the city of Fishers (Fishers transitioned from a township to city status in 2015) boasts a population of nearly 100,000, having claimed the title of fastest growing city in Indiana. In the case of “the chicken or the egg,” Fishers’ economic and recreational opportunities 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, formerly assistant director of Public Relations for the city of Fishers, now Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Indy Chamber. “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 the city is a mere 20 miles from downtown Indianapolis, Fishers boasts its own bevy of urban adventures, meaning 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 Boo Bash in the fall.
Fishers is weaving the history of the town into the city of today. For example, the city’s railroad history and commitment to walkability are especially embodied in a rail bed-turned walking/biking trail that runs right through downtown. In addition, 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 was named a Playful City by KaBOOM!, a nonprofit dedicated to ensuring children stay active through play. The parks and recreation department hosts every first-grader in Hamilton Southeastern Schools at the Ritchey Woods Nature Preserve through its Nature First program. 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, now known as the Fishers District, which brought independent and chain restaurants, retail space, luxury apartments, and a hotel to the city.
“There are opportunities to create jobs here so that people can live, work, and play in their community…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 want 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 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.