The Hancock Economic Development Council congratulates the “Health and Heritage Region” which includes the communities of Greenfield, Fortville and Hancock County on being named a 2018 Stellar Community by the State of Indiana.
According to a news release from the Office of Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch, “a focus on substance abuse treatment, expanding trails and revitalizing their downtowns are just a few of the facets of their plan to help create the front porch of Eastern Indiana.”
The region will receive $4.5 million from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural affairs, and will receive additional set amounts from the Indiana Department of Transportation, the Indiana State Department of Health and the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority.
According to OCRA, “the plan they will implement through Stellar funding will focus on increasing economic growth while also developing the quality of place in their area.”
“For our region, our projects are built on health, heritage, and heart,” says Jenna Wertman, associate planner for the City of Greenfield. “These are a mix of what makes us great now and what we aspire to have make us great in the future. Our region contains a large number of the historic Main Street buildings in the county, and that heritage is what gives us our charm and identity. We want to make sure we grow and develop in a way that helps keep our downtown cores thriving too. Our county has improved in health rankings, but there is a lot that we could do in terms of infrastructure to keep this going, so focusing on health is important to our future. And our people and partnerships are the heart of the region. We want to make sure that we have spaces that build social connections and keep the pulse of the region healthy as well.”
Wertman says they hope to have projects that kick off each year between 2019 and 2023.
“We really hope that people will stay engaged throughout the designation period and help take these projects to the next level. We are really intent on doing some more creative initiatives during these grants like Pitch Night, which was an entrepreneur competition held at the end of the Main Street Revitalization Grant to fill a new storefront that had been created. We are looking to make this designation unique to our region but something that can be replicated in other communities and future regions. We hope that people will provide their input and creative ideas throughout! And as always, we have this big grant period now but that doesn’t mean that our normal operations and goals come to a halt. We hope to have a draft of a brand new, modernized zone code ready for review in the first part of next year that will really streamline and improve our local regulations. There are other grants and initiatives we will still work to secure, and we expect the region as a whole to keep this great momentum going.
Joan Fitzwater, zoning administrator for the City of Greenfield, says that the region is interested in hearing what companies need to be successful, and finding ways to partner with them to make it happen.
“Our goal is to open lines of communication between government, not for profits and businesses. For instance, after conversations between Elanco and our schools, we think we should convene our major industries and schools and government to develop a feasible day care program. Many of our Stellar projects serve dual and multiple purposes. Trails and public trolleys to improve health outcomes and transportation options and connect hotels to our downtown central business districts and to our schools. The Pitch Night is another example. From that we have partnered with IEDC and the SBA to provide guidance to entrepreneurs. Housing for all income levels is another focus that we have and another opportunity for aligned partnerships to find solutions. Our programs are meant to provide a stronger foundation for a healthy workforce.”
“This designation is proof that what happens in Hancock County is truly an regional impact on the State of Indiana,” says the Hancock Economic Development Council. “Our location and the workforce will be enhanced by this endeavor and the projects that they are proposing. We look forward to working with them now and in the future. It only continues to show that we are a “Stellar” Community!”
The Mt. Comfort Road Corridor, comprised of the towns of Cumberland, McCordsville and New Palestine, was also recognized as one of five 2018 Stellar finalists. You can read more about the program at https://www.in.gov/ocra/stellar.htm
Hancock Economic Development Council is proud to serve the communities of Hancock County, Indiana.