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Organizations are at work to turn economic tide

These uncertain economic times are among the busiest for those entities charged with steering Harrison County’s economic ship. Several long-term journeys are now being considered by those at the helm.
The Harrison County Convention and Visitors Bureau ‘ in partnership with Main Street Corydon and the town of Corydon ‘ has been in the process of obtaining a planning grant from the Indiana Dept. of Commerce to fund a downtown Corydon redevelopment plan.
Keller Manufacturing Co.’s announcement last week that the Corydon plant will soon close has moved that site up on the priority list.
‘Our belief is … the way things are now, industrial use may not be compatible with the small-town downtown in 2003 the way it was in 1903 or 1953,’ said CVB director Jim Epperson.
‘Keller thinks the place is inefficient. What makes us think another place is going to find it to be an efficient manufacturing facility?’ Epperson asked. ‘Industrial may not be the highest and best use for that property today.
‘We are looking at a mixed-use redevelopment to include things like retail, restaurant and entertainment, museum, office, amphitheatre, green space ‘ especially for the flood-prone areas of the property,’ Epperson said.
‘Because we have had these discussions, we are at least able to respond quickly. Six months from now, when that redevelopment plan is complete, there will be specific recommendations, time lines and methods for how to proceed with things,’ he said.
That redevelopment plan will also examine the feasibility of an inn or conference center, or both, at the Harrison-Crawford/Wyandotte Complex (see story at left).
Also underway is the assembly of a community redevelopment commission.
Brian Fogle, economic development director for the Chamber of Commerce of Harrison County, said such a commission would be a vehicle for redevelopment efforts like Indiana’s Technology Parks Program, which would enable Harrison County to have its own certified technology park; ‘brownfield’ redevelopment, developing defunct industrial sites; and acquiring funding to put development-spurring infrastructure in place.
‘The tourism side of the economy is just one portion of it,’ Epperson said. ‘It’s the portion where (CVB members) have kind of taken on the stewardship as an organization.’
Now, he said, the CVB is trying to bridge the gap between visitors and a potential work force.
‘A diverse economy tends to be the healthiest economy. Tourism is not the only answer, just like manufacturing is not the only answer just like technology business recruitment is not the only answer. Those and other factors combine to create a quality of life that makes people want to live and work here,’ said Epperson.