Dignitaries and passengers gathered in Concourse A of the Indianapolis International Airport as a new gateway to Europe was opened on May 24. The inaugural flight to Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport marked a new day in Hoosier-Euro connections. The Delta Flight 500 took off at 6:12 pm, just in time to return to Indianapolis for the 102nd running of the Indy 500. Local business leaders and dignitaries, including Governor Eric J. Holcomb, were on board returning from a trade mission to Europe.

The trade mission to six countries was led by Governor Eric J. Holcomb, First Lady Janet Holcomb, and Indiana Secretary of Commerce Jim Schellinger, an IC Board member. The trade mission built on existing relationships between Indiana and its European partners with stops in Czechia, Slovakia, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, and France. Martin Baier, CEO of The International Center, accompanied the delegation in Berlin and Paris. Martin, a native of Germany, serves as the Honorary Consul of France in Indiana. “It is great to see the development of partnerships within Europe and the establishment of the direct flight between Paris and Indianapolis. These connections are vital to growing and sustaining Indiana’s economy.” According to the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), Indiana is home to more than 450 European business facilities that provide 113,900 Hoosier jobs, accounting for 60 percent of the state’s jobs that are supported by international businesses. Furthermore, U.S. Census data shows that Europe is a top destination for Indiana-made goods with over 23 percent of exports heading across the Atlantic.


The Athenaeum Building in downtown Indianapolis is a wonderful example of Hoosiers’ German heritage.

Indiana’s connections to the continent extend well beyond today’s economy, dating back to when European explorers and settlers began arriving to the Midwest. A look at a map of the state reveals many of those historical connections with city names like: Lafayette and Vincennes (French), Ferdinand (Austrian), Geneva and Berne (Swiss), Edinburgh (Scottish), and Oldenburg (German). With 25 percent of Hoosiers claiming German heritage, many more cities would have German names if communities had retained their ancestral designations following World Wars I and II. Today, organizations like the Indiana German Heritage Society and the Max Kade German-American Center at IUPUI bridge the past with the present in providing Hoosiers with opportunities to connect with the language and culture of Deutschland (Germany).

European Ancestry Among Hoosiers
Country of Ancestry Population % of Population
German 1,517,787 23.00%
Irish 755,709 11.50%
English 543,716 8.30%
Polish 208,419 3.20%
Italian 175,753 2.70%
French (except Basque) 143,630 2.20%
Dutch 124,244 1.90%
Scottish 114,310 1.70%
Scotch-Irish 56,826 0.90%
Swedish 57,132 0.90%
Norwegian 38,266 0.60%
Swiss 37,523 0.60%
Welsh 37,168 0.60%
Hungarian 36,177 0.50%
Czech 16,484 0.30%
Greek 22,926 0.30%
Russian 22,280 0.30%
Slovak 19,339 0.30%
Danish 11,638 0.20%
French Canadian 16,399 0.20%
Lithuanian 11,110 0.20%
Portuguese 4,397 0.10%
Ukrainian 9,624 0.10%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2012-2016 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates


The Center’s Festival Fund supports and promotes the activities of organizations in the greater Indianapolis area that enrich life by celebrating cultural diversity and expression which helps showcase the growing number of nationalities represented in Central Indiana. Among this year’s award recipients is the Indy Midsommer Festival, which is a European-style celebration of the Summer Solstice. The event will be held at the Latvian Community Center on June 9 with eighteen European countries represented. The Festival will feature ethnic food, drinks, dancing, singing, live European folk & rock music, and a traditional bonfire lighting at dusk!

If you would like to learn more about European cultures with a Hoosier twist, consider registering for The International Center’s upcoming workshop on June 8 which will provide a half-day introduction to European cultures and business practices. Register by clicking here or contacting Peter Kirkwood, protocol officer.

By Peter Kirkwood, Protocol Officer