Warsaw is Finalist in Stellar Communities

Warsaw was named a finalist this morning in the Stellar Communities Designation Program.
Indiana Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb announced this morning the six communities that are Division 1 and Division 2 finalists for the 2016 program.
Finalist communities are separated into a division based on their population. Division 1 is for communities with populations 6,000 to 50,000 and Division 2 is for populations 5,999 and below. Warsaw is a Division 1 finalist, along with the cities of Rushville and Shelbyville.
Division 2 finalists are the towns of Corydon and Culver and the city of Union City.
Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer said, “The City of Warsaw is honored to be named a finalist and compete for the award of Indiana Stellar Community Designee. That designation would accelerate our neighborhood revitalization commitment to the Market Street corridor and Argonne Road, connecting our downtown with the Town of Winona Lake. We will continue to work diligently with Winona Lake and all of our community partners through the Stellar process. As a finalist, we have all shown commitment to improving the quality of life for our great Warsaw community and hope to be awarded the Stellar designation. Most important, however, our efforts to our citizens and their neighborhoods will continue forward whatever the outcome.”
Established in 2011, the SCDP began as a collaboration between the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, Office of Community and Rural Affairs and Indiana Department of Transportation to support community planning and development initiatives by streamlining access to available funding sources and capacity building resources, according to a press release from Holcomb’s office.
Through the annual designation, the SCDP provides resources for transformative quality of place community improvements by utilizing previous planning efforts, leveraging existing assets, fostering regional investments and stimulating continued growth for long-term relevance, the release states.
“Cities and towns across Indiana continue to benefit from a strong business climate that makes them attractive places to live, work and play, and the Stellar Communities Designation Program remains an important catalyst fostering local economic growth,” said Holcomb. “I congratulate this year’s six finalists for taking this pivotal step of identifying key projects in line with their assets and visions for the future. I look forward to visiting each of the finalist communities over the next few months to see firsthand the state and local collaborations helping our hometowns thrive well into the future.”
As a finalist, Thallemer said the city will be given a $15,000 grant to develop an implementation plan.
The press release from Holcomb’s office states, “As finalist communities, each will receive a planning grant to either create or build upon existing local Strategic Investment Plans, detailing projects, partnerships and proposed sources of funding. Site visits will then be conducted by the Stellar Team which is comprised of representatives from the partnering agencies who follow a standard agenda and set of questions. Later this summer, one community from each division will be named a 2016 Stellar Communities Designee.”
A finalist workshop is April 21 at Fort Harrison State Park, with strategic investment plans due July 1 at 5 p.m.
Site visits and evaluations will take place July 16 through Aug. 15, according to the OCRA website. During the visits, a state team will visit each finalist community to look at the project area, hear about the finalist community’s presentation and ask questions about the strategic investment plan, according to OCRA’s website. The site visit can last up to three hours.
Designees then will be announced in August at the Indiana State Fair, with two communities selected. Community celebrations will be in September, with kick-off meetings in October, according to the site.
The Stellar Communities Designation Program is a collaboration between state agencies, including the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Indiana Finance Authority, Serve Indiana, Indiana Bond Bank, Indiana Department of Transportation, Indiana Office of Small Business & Entrepreneurship, Indiana State Department of Health, Indiana Arts Commission, Indiana Housing & Community Development Authority and Office of Community and Rural Affairs.
All 11 agencies will provide a high level of technical skills that will support leveraging the existing assets already within the community, according to the release. Their efforts will focus on building human capital, supporting existing businesses, creating a spirit of entrepreneurship, redeveloping commercial property and infrastructure, preserving natural and cultural amenities and improving the health and well-being of residents, which fosters the creation of a vital destination, the release states.
For more information on past designees, timelines and contact information, visit www.ocra.in.gov/Stellar