Westfield: Big City, Big Heart
by Christy Heitger-Ewing
Andy Cook has been the only mayor of Westfield, having taken the post in 2008 when Westfield became a city. He’s now serving in his fourth and final term.
“It’s crazy to think that when he became the mayor, there were about 10,000 people in Westfield,” says Chris Proffitt, Director of Communications for the City of Westfield. “Now we’re knocking on the door of 60,000. Imagine the changes he’s seen!”
When Cook took the helm, he knew the city needed an industry, so he became a leader in sports tourism and launched Grand Park, which put Westfield on the map! Out of that came $1.5 billion of commercial development. Over the past 16 years, Mayor Cook has been instrumental in creating a place where people want to be. Not only is Westfield the sixth fastest-growing city in America but in October, it was named the fourth best small city by both the Business Insider and WalletHub. Another cool tidbit is that of the top five cities in America, Carmel was ranked first and Fishers fifth.
“It’s rather astonishing that three of the top five cities come from the same county in Indiana. That says a lot about the quality of life here,” says Proffitt. While Westfield may not have mountains and oceans, the city does have vibrant trails & parks and, of course, Grand Junction Plaza. Soon, the city will be celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Grand Park sports complex.
“It’s a momentous time for us,” says Proffitt. “Grand Park is the only one of its kind, which is why it has a reputation all across the country as the leader of youth sports.”
Adds Sara Blazier, Digital Communications Specialist with the City of Westfield, “You can’t talk about Westfield without talking about Grand Park.”
Every department in the City of Westfield partners with the Westfield Chamber of Commerce in different ways, from community events to communication outreach programs. For example, they are redeveloping SR32 through downtown Westfield and have partnered with the Chamber regarding communication outreach. The Communications Department worked with the Chamber to create 32connects.com, a website that provides residents and business owners with information and enables folks to answer their questions about the construction project.
“We rely on the Chamber as our extension to the business community,” says Proffitt.
If there are concerns that the business community has with, say, infrastructure, then the City of Westfield can work with the Chamber to address those concerns one-on-one to prevent problems down the line.
“As a communications division, we want to keep that open communication channel among the residents, development, the business community, and the city,” says Proffitt.
The City of Westfield partners with the Chamber on a variety of events, including the Farmers Market, which runs from May through October. They also partner when working on road closures and organizing volunteers for various events.
“The Chamber is part of our fabric,” says Blazier.
In the future, Proffitt plans to take a deeper dive into Facebook community groups to understand better what matters to people.
“I want to know what bothers them, what they like, what they want,” says Proffitt. “It’s a good way to stay ahead of the needs of your community.”
This is partly why they enjoy partnering with the Chamber, Downtown Westfield, and other local organizations to work together to ensure the information that’s “out there” is factual.
“We don’t want any false info being spread around and causing panic,” says Proffitt.
One of the things that sets Westfield apart from other communities is the sense of care and compassion as local organizations and nonprofits all communicate the needs of residents and then collaborate to meet those needs. It’s a culture from the top down—from Mayor Cook down to the street crews patching potholes and plowing snow.
“Mayor Cook has always said a city has to have a heart, and Westfield does,” says Proffitt. “If you were to ask the mayor what his best accomplishment has been, I imagine he’d say the Westfield Youth Assistance Program.”
Years ago, Mayor Cook developed the Westfield Youth Assistance Program that helps prevent kids in danger of entering the judicial system from going down that path.
“Mayor Cook worked with local law enforcement and the county to get kids positive role models,” says Proffitt. “It’s been successful. It’s prevented at least 50% of kids who would have gotten in trouble and ended up in the judicial system and instead set them on a path in life that’s crime-free. The outcomes are astounding.”
The City of Westfield is located at 2728 East 171st Street, Westfield, IN 46074. For more information, visit www.westfield.in.gov