Earlier this month, members from the Hamilton County Leadership Academy (HCLA), Class of 2023, attended County & Municipal Government Day. The day was packed full of learning as participants heard from numerous community stakeholders that provided insight into the inner workings of local government, while being given the opportunity to engage with local dignitaries. Following this event, I was asked to share my perspective as a local government employee.
So, without further ado, let’s get started…
If asked the general question: “Did this programming day make an impact on you?” I believe the unanimous response from all those in attendance would be “yes,” including myself. But, if asked to elaborate on their reasoning or share their biggest takeaways from the day, I anticipate answers would differ greatly due to the diversity of our experiences.
For context, I have worked for Hamilton County since 2009, and currently have the privilege to serve as an appointee of the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners. Though maybe not a complete and total expert, I am no stranger to local government operations. While the day was filled with a great deal of information that served as an excellent refresher, I didn’t necessarily encounter a lot of new information. Yet, as I reflect on my experience, I can say this programming day did help me develop a completely new perspective.
Hamilton County has earned national recognition for consistently being ranked as one of the best places to live and raise a family in the United States. But why? What is the secret sauce that differentiates Hamilton County from other communities and has led to so much success?
Over the years, I’ve found myself in many conversations centered around this very question. Often, my answer or explanation would include highlighting Hamilton County’s award-winning schools, safety, low tax rates, robust economy, low unemployment, walkable downtowns, thriving arts community, diverse entertainment options, or its proximity to Indianapolis. And while I continue to believe these elements contribute greatly, my answer looks notably different following my participation in the County & Municipal Government Day.
As mentioned above, the day was spent hearing from community stakeholders and dignitaries from around the county. Speakers shared information on a wide range of different topics relating to their specific roles, cities, unique challenges, growing opportunities, etc. However, despite great differences, the greatest impact for me came from their unplanned similarities.
In my opinion, there was an unwritten, maybe even unintended, “synergy“ that existed amongst all those that participated in this programming day. Though speaking on their differences, each speaker displayed a shared commitment and focus when it comes to improving not only their respective territories, but Hamilton County as a whole, and the lives of all that visit or call it home.
The famous Greek philosopher, Aristotle, once said, “The Whole is Greater than the Sum of its Parts,” and I believe that this expression continues to ring true today, especially when talking about Hamilton County. While cities and towns around the county have been able to establish their own identities and are special in and by themselves, it was clear during this programming day that leadership understands that it is only together that we enjoy the Hamilton County we love and know today.
And it is exactly this harmony, mutual understanding, and shared commitment amongst local leaders and stakeholders that I believe is truly Hamilton County’s secret sauce.