Mayor Andy Cook speaks to Westfield Kiwanis Club

Kiwanis President Deborah Minth, left, and Secretary Laurie Paisley honor Westfield Mayor Andy Cook with a charter member certificate and pin. (Photos by Sadie Hunter)

By Sadie Hunter

At its Jan. 17 meeting at Westfield Washington Public Library, the Kiwanis Club of Westfield welcomed Westfield Mayor Andy Cook as its guest speaker.

In addition to his comments to members, Cook was honored with his charter member certificate and pin.

“When we started this group in May (2016), we had until October (2016) to get as many members as we could, and we would be the charter members of the Kiwanis Club of Westfield. Because (Mayor Cook) joined then, he is a charter member,” Club President Deborah Minth said.

While speaking, Cook focused on highlighting the residents of the city and how they affect how Westfield manages growth and are an asset to why Westfield is desirable to many.

“When I speak to our service groups, and when I speak to our faith-based community, I really like to address the intangible but hugely important quality-of-our-people aspect of what we are trying to do in Westfield,” Cook said. “We have an unbelievable asset in our people. Hamilton County is a wonderful place, and I think sometimes we don’t know what we have here.

“We in Westfield are competing in a national and global economy,” Cook added. “With our 56-square-mile township, we could easily be a city of over 100,000, but I sense from a lot of our residents that we would much rather pursue quality rather than quantity, and I hear that over and over. That’s easy to say, but not always easy to do because of pressure to develop, and when I ask people why they moved to Westfield, they say because of the quality of the schools, the trail system and Grand Park.”

Cook said when looking at cities Westfield competes with, they often look to places like Columbus, Ohio, Denver, Colo., and Charlotte, N.C.

“We don’t have the climate of a Charlotte, or a Denver with the mountains, or a seashore,” he said. “We’ve got to work a lot harder at making the place. We have to build the Grand Parks, the Grand Junctions downtown, and we have to invest in those things, but we also need to show a return on those investments.”

Cook also noted that although Westfield continues to see growth in young people and young families moving to the area, the state as a whole is seeing people move to other states and regions, and that the influx of young people in Hamilton County is due to Indiana residents from other cities and towns relocating here.

“The bad news for us is in about five years, that source dries up,” Cook said.

Citing Indianapolis as an example, Cook said the city is making strides to enter into the high-tech world.

“Indy is just now beginning to build on a new industry, and it’s tech,” he said. “In fact, the number of people beginning to locate here is second only to Silicon Valley. We had to make things, but it’s also the people. It’s the people that make the place once you have the things in place. This region has been able to put the things in place, and now, we need to capitalize on our huge asset of our people. So, as we begin to look at (Westfield,) the work that our folks do is what makes the difference in our economic development vitality. Make no mistake about that.”