Going For Gold

City of Madison makes cut to earn $50,000 in rural town contest

America’s Best Communities contest
moves to next level

(September 2015) – Representatives from Frontier Communications treated a small group of Madison residents and dignitaries to dinner at Clifty Falls State Park Lodge on Aug. 27 to celebrate Madison’s April 29 selection as one of 50 quarterfinalists in the America’s Best Communities competition. Madison and 10 other Indiana towns survived the first-round cut from among more than 350 applicants in 29 states.  Other Indiana towns still in the running include Greencastle, Jasper, Terre Haute, Angola, Lafayette, La Porte, Richmond, Valparaiso, Wabash and Westfield.

Photo provided

A committee of Madison residents pose with officials from Frontier Communications Aug. 27 during a dinner event at Clifty Falls State Park Lodge. The Madison reps are (from left) Lindsey Obendorf, Trevor Crafton, Nathan Hadley, Mayor Damon Welch, Linda Lytle, Andrew Forrester, and Valecia Crisafulli.

The America’s Best Communities competition is a $10 million dollar initiative to stimulate economic revitalization in small towns and cities. As a quarterfinalist, Madison will be awarded $50,000 to further develop and implement its comprehensive strategies to accelerate the local economy and improve quality of life.
Madison will now be eligible to compete at the next level in hopes of making the top eight communities, each of which will receive $100,000. The top three from those eight will receive $3 million, $2 million and $1 million, respectively, according to Marc Evans, a Frontier Communications general manager based in Terre Haute who spoke at the dinner.
In the months ahead, Madison will partner with a major corporation that will provide guidance and support throughout the next stage of the competition. The America’s Best Communities “Adopt-a-Community Program” has brought together 50 distinguished companies from across the U.S. to support this prize competition. Each will serve as a strategic mentor, while also contributing $15,000 of the $50,000 in prize money. These corporate partners will forge relationships with local leaders and focus their efforts on successful implementation of the innovative business plans.
“As residents of this great City, we know Madison is one of America’s Best Communities. But now we have a chance to show the world. We are thankful to the sponsors of this competition for this opportunity to show the best of what Madison has to offer, for the promotion that comes with this designation, and for the funding that helps us reach the next level,” said Madison Mayor Damon Welch.
VisitMadison Inc., the Jefferson County Industrial Development Corps., Madison Area Chamber of Commerce and the Main Street Program all partnered with the City of Madison in submitting the application. Representatives from those agencies attended the dinner and posed for a group photo to celebrate the achievement.
Andrew Forrester, Community Relations Manager for the City of Madison, told the crowd that the money Madison receives would be used to help improve two primary corridors in town: Clifty Drive and Main Street. “We want to do something with both of these corridors to help set our city apart. Right now, Clifty Drive looks like anywhere USA.”
Forrester said he hoped the money would also help the city move forward in creating a Strategic Plan that would enable it to compete for grant funds and private investment. “It is shocking to me that the last time the city had a Strategic Plan was 1999.”
He said the city is nearing completion of a Master Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan. “Now is the time to get a Strategic Plan in place.”
Forrester said he hoped Madison would continue to move forward in the contest toward collecting the $3 million first-place prize, but added, “Even if we don’t win, this planning effort and the $50,000 will make an impact for years to come.”
Vince Gill, the competition’s spokesperson joined Frontier Communications, DISH, CoBank, and The Weather Channel in announcing the quarterfinalists on April 29 in Stamford, Conn. The selection was made by an independent group of expert judges from a pool of more than 135 community applicants. The 50 quarterfinalist communities have six months to shape and refine their revitalization plans and compete for the grand prizes totaling $5 million.
The 50 quarterfinalist communities have six months to complete the Comprehensive Community Revitalization Plan and compete for additional investment. In early 2016, 15 semifinalists will be selected to attend the America’s Best Communities summit to present their strategies and eight finalists will be awarded another $100,000 to continue implementation of their plans. In April 2017, America’s Best Communities will name its three competition winners – those communities best able to dream big and deliver on those dreams.

• To learn more about the competition, visit: www.AmericasBestCommunities.com.

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