Starla D. Hart, MPA, a veteran community development professional who has worked for more than 16 years to enhance the lives of people in Indianapolis, has been named  Director of Community Initiatives for 16 Tech Community Corporation effective October 29. In this new position, Hart will work with Near West, Northwest and surrounding neighborhoods and help 16 Tech and its newly appointed advisory committee launch the 16 Tech Community Investment Fund.

16 Tech, a 60-acre innovation district on the near west side of Indianapolis, is being purposefully designed to ignite collaboration among innovators and entrepreneurs in life sciences, tech, advanced manufacturing and engineering in a live-work-play-learn environment.  16 Tech recently announced the full leasing of the first building in the district, which is expected to open in Spring 2020.

As part of its mission to ensure the benefits of 16 Tech’s economic growth support access, opportunity and revitalization of nearby communities, 16 Tech Community Corporation formed the 16 Tech Community Investment Fund and announced its advisory committee members today. The 10-member committee is made up of residents, community leaders and supporting organizations that represent the neighborhoods and priorities of the Near West and Northwest areas.

Seeded with funds from the City of Indianapolis, the 16 Tech Community Investment Fund will be sustained perpetually through a $0.20-per-square-foot assessment on space occupied by 16 Tech tenants. Under Hart’s guidance, the advisory committee will develop strategic goals, funding guidelines and priorities in preparation for the fund to launch with its first round of grants in 2019.

Advisory committee members include five neighborhood leaders who have held or currently hold leadership positions in neighborhoods around 16 Tech and have been active in creating programs and initiatives that support their communities. The committee also includes the leaders of talent development, community development and educational institutions that provide services in 16 Tech neighborhoods. These institutions include EmployIndy, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and Global Preparatory Academy. 16 Tech Community Corporation President and CEO Bob Coy and Indianapolis Deputy Mayor of Economic Development Angela Smith Jones also serve on the committee. Advisory members include representatives of the community development arms of Bank of America and PNC Bank.

Selection of members was made based on recommendations from neighborhood, workforce and community development leaders, and the members were approved by the 16 Tech Community Corporation Board of Directors. 16 Tech Community Corporation has also partnered with the Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF) to support the advisory committee in its strategy planning and grantmaking process.

“As one of the region’s largest projects to attract, retain and develop talent, 16 Tech is committed to ensuring the benefits of economic growth, new investment and job creation in the 16 Tech district extend to nearby neighborhoods as well as the city, the region and the state,” said Smith Jones, a 16 Tech Community Corporation board member and the city’s appointee to the 16 Tech Community Investment Fund. “The 16 Tech Community Investment Fund is community-focused and community-directed with those who live and provide services in the neighborhoods helping to guide how investments are made for maximum impact.”

“16 Tech’s commitment to invest in nearby neighborhoods through the 16 Tech Community Investment Fund is one of the many reasons I knew this role was a great fit for me,” Hart said. “Throughout my career I have come to know the neighborhoods that surround 16 Tech in addition to having family ties in the area, which make this work that much more significant to me.”

Hart most recently worked for LISC Indianapolis supporting the Great Places 2020 initiative. She previously served as Director of Community Initiatives with the Marion County Commission on Youth (MCCOY), a Coordinator for the U.S. Attorney’s Indiana Project Safe Neighborhoods program, and the Director of Neighborhood Partnerships at the IUPUI Office of Community Engagement.

“LISC is thrilled to participate as a member of the 16 Tech Community Investment Fund board, and we are excited to see the impact Starla Hart will have in this new role,” said Tedd Grain, executive director of LISC. “Her deep and long-standing commitment to the neighborhoods surrounding 16 Tech makes her ideal for leading this initiative.”

For nearly 10 years, Hart served as IUPUI’s liaison to the Near West neighborhood working with neighborhood residents, neighboring non-profit and for-profit businesses, including schools and university stakeholders to articulate the neighborhood vision, identify strategies for achieving that vision, and engaging partners and other city stakeholders in the process.

This body of work led Hart to become the founding director of Source River West, a hub for entrepreneurs in the River West Great Place that offers place-based entrepreneurship and small business supports for residents in urban Indy neighborhoods.

Hart earned a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies and certifications in Non-Profit Management and American Humanics from Indiana University.  She completed her master’s degree in Public Administration from Baruch College in New York City as part of the prestigious National Urban Fellows program.

Hart has served as a representative on various boards, community committees and coalitions, building relationships that enhanced the work of her employers and the Indianapolis community in general. In addition to her new duties as Director of Community Initiatives for 16 Tech, Hart serves as a member of Mayor’s Cultural Investment Advisory Council.

16 Tech Community Investment Fund Advisory Committee members:  

Neighborhood representatives:

Peggy Gamlin, community leader, former President, Riverside Civic League

Randy Jones, neighborhood leader, Treasurer, Ransom Place Neighborhood Association

Elda Pena, community leader, member of Haughville STRONG and education advocate

Earl Townsend, community advocate, Vice President and COO of GRoE, Inc.

Adrianne Opp, neighborhood leader, Hawthorne, Secretary, Near West Collaborative

Supporting organizations:

Tedd Grain, Executive Director, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)

Angela Carr Klitzsch, President and CEO, EmployIndy

Mariama Shaheed, Founder and Principal, Global Preparatory Academy 

16 Tech Community Corporation and City of Indianapolis appointees:

Bob Coy, President and CEO, 16 Tech Community Corporation

Angela Smith Jones, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, City of Indianapolis

Advisory members:

Patricia Gamble-Moore, Indiana Market Manager for Community Development Banking, PNC Karen Pipes, Senior Vice

President, Market Manager for Bank of America, Indianapolis Market