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Corydon makes Stellar finalists list

When Eva Bates North arrived at the Corydon Town Hall yesterday morning (Tuesday), she was greeted by Pam Byrne saying, ‘It’s a stellar morning.’
And a short time later, North and a roomful of others learned that Corydon had been chosen as one of three finalists, in division 2 (population of 5,999 or less), for the 2016 Stellar Communities Designation Program.
Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb, who called the town hall and asked to speak to North, the town manager and member of the town council, conveyed the news.
‘It was so exciting,’ North said, adding that Holcomb, who was in Corydon later in the day, is a history buff. ‘He was so nice.’
North said she told the lieutenant governor that she had some people with her who were wanting to ‘whoop it up’ after hearing the news.
The excitement grew as Steve Gilliland, president and CEO of the Harrison County Community Foundation, announced the Foundation board’s decision from the previous night to provide $1.25 million for the renovation of the Conrad building, located at the corner of Chestnut and Elm streets.
‘He said it was going to be a consolation prize’ if Corydon wasn’t a finalist in the Stellar program, Catherine Turcotte, executive director of Main Street Corydon, said.
Part of the money ‘ $750,000 ‘ is a program-related investment, Turcotte said, which means it will have to be paid back over time but at zero interest. The rest is a grant.
‘Everybody is so excited,’ Turcotte said of both announcements.
Renovating the 10,000-square-foot Conrad building, constructed in 1912, into a destination restaurant, with outdoor seating to the east on vacant property Main Street recently purchased from Larry and Tina Warren, and boutique on the ground floor and six high-quality apartments on the second story, is just one of many projects Turcotte and North cited as ongoing.
‘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,’ Holcomb said after the finalists were contacted. ‘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.’
Established in 2011, the Stellar program began as a collaboration between the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, Office of Community and Rural Affairs and Indiana Dept. of Transportation to support community planning and development initiatives by streamlining access to available funding sources and capacity building resources. The partnership has grown to include the Indiana Arts Commission, Indiana Bond Bank, Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources, Indiana Finance Authority, Indiana Office of Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Indiana Office of Tourism and Development, Indiana State Dept. of Health Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity and Serve Indiana.
Previous Stellar communities are North Vernon and Greencastle (2011), Princeton and Delphi (2012), Richmond and Bedford (2013), Huntingburg and Wabash (2014) and Crawfordsville and North Liberty (2015).
The Stellar program 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 next step for the Stellar finalists ‘ Culver (Marshall County) and Union City (Randolph County) also in division 2 and Rushville (Rush County), Shelbyville (Shelby County) and Warsaw (Kosciusko County) in division 2 (population 6,000 to 50,000) ‘ is to complete about a 300-page application.
The 10 initial communities (five in each division) had to submit a proposal consisting of about 11 pages for a committee consisting of several state agencies to review and make its selections.
Each finalist community receives a $10,000 grant for planning purposes.
In July, the Stellar team, comprised of representatives from each of the 11 partnering agencies, will visit the six communities. Then, at the Indiana State Fair, the two winners, one from each division, will be announced.
‘We’re going to order tiaras to wear,’ North said. ‘It’s like we’re going to be the fair queen.’
When asked what residents can do to help Corydon become a Stellar designee, North and Turcotte offered several suggestions, including sprucing up the town and helping with Earth Day clean-up (see article in next week’s paper).
Regardless if Corydon is selected (it has a 33-percent chance), the women said the projects will move forward.
None of this would have been possible, Turcotte said, if the Corydon Town Council hadn’t agreed to come on board.
North agreed, saying Turcotte is like the director of all the projects coming together after the town council voted earlier this year to hire Main Street for its economic development.
‘Main Street only raised the awareness,’ Turcotte said.
Funding for the Stellar Communities Designation Program comes from multiple existing federal and state programs.
North’s brother, Brian Bates, who was at the town hall when Holcomb called, said Corydon ‘always has been a Stellar community.’
‘We need people to think that way,’ North said.
North and Turcotte said residents are welcome to call the town hall for updates about the Stellar process and to attend the Corydon Town Council meetings (the second and fourth Mondays), which will be followed by a briefing about ongoing, as well as suggested, projects.
More information about past Stellar designees, timelines and contact information is available online at www.ocra.in.gov/Stellar.

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