If you have never seen anyone
floating on Cloud 9, then you have never been to Vevay, Ind.
On April 26, Switzerland County Tourism officials David Attaway and Angie
Satterfield were literally suspended in mid-air as they rejoiced in the
news that Vevay was one of only three Indiana towns to receive more than
$333,000 in grants and loans from a new statewide economic development
Indiana Office of Tourism Director Amy Vaughn and other state rural and
housing development and officials arrived in town the next day to make
the announcement on the Switzerland County Courthouse steps before a crowd
of nearly 50 local residents and business owners. Many of them had taken
part in the community wide effort to create a Vision for Switzerland
County, and now they were witnessing some of the biggest fruits of their
Attaway, the new tourism director, and Satterfield, coordinator of the
strategy they call A Vision for Switzerland County, have been
amazed, themselves, at the synergy that has been created in town and the
speed at which things have fallen into place.
This news is really rockin; its great and the energy
here is just incredible, Satterfield said in her remarks at the
podium. The Visions project is a partnership of people who understand
the true importance of collaboration, and building tourism in tomorrows
world is all about collaboration.
The event was the latest in a string of news coming out of the small,
riverfront town in the past nine months since Attaway and Satterfield
were hired to take over the reins of the countys tourism and downtown
renewal efforts. What began as a dream has since become a community-wide,
collaborative initiative that involves residents, business owners, downtown
building owners, developers, local nonprofit foundations and city and
county government officials.
In other words, this is a project with everyone involved who has a stake
in a communitys rebirth into a tourism destination. In just nine
months since it began, their Vision has caught catching the
attention of other communities across the state, including those in Indianapolis.
In fact, Attaway and Satterfield have been invited to present the model
they have used at the upcoming Indiana Cultural Tourism Conference, planned
for May 11 in Indianapolis. It shows that when a community works
together on all levels, they can really make things happen in a hurry,
Its a model that other communities need to take a look at,
Vevay was by far the smallest of the 10 Indiana towns that were hand-picked
for consideration for this new pilot program, called the Real Estate Capital
Access Program, or RECAP. It was jointly established by the Office of
Indiana Tourism, the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority,
and the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs. The idea was to
merge tourism with affordable housing and economic development in an effort
to redevelop main streets throughout rural Indiana. Logansport and Wabash
also were selected to receive similar grants.
State officials only recently created the program and conducted site visits
and interviews a month ago before making their selections. There
were several factors considered, but one big factor was finding a community
with an ongoing project or project that was ready to go so the money could
be quickly put to use so we can evaluate the success of it within the
next 12-18 months, said David Kaufmann, Police and Research Manager
for the Housing and Community Development Authority. He was among the
contingent of state officials in Vevay for the grant announcement.
Kaufmann said other contributing factors for selection were synergy, a
vibrant tourism base, a strong Main Street program, solid leadership,
the opportunity for development, and a commitment to housing and community
development. He added that local developers and loan agents also were
interviewed as part of the process to gauge the interest of investors
in the local communities considered.
Vevay was right there on all counts, Kaufmann said.
Money for the grant came from state sources, including Local Initiatives
Support Corp. and the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana. The site
teams that visited the 10 communities included a representative from each
participating agency. Officials hope to apply for federal money to help
expand the program in the future, Kaufmann said.
But for now, they want to wait and see how this pilot program develops
before conducting another rounds of grants. So Vevay has been suddenly
thrust into the spotlight and the clock is ticking. The pressure is on
for the Vision to become a reality so that other communities
can learn from it.
We are just letting things take their course, and we are watching
just like everyone else to see where it might lead, Attaway said.
Its amazing what can happen when everyone involved has a stake
in it. Its really exciting.
Don Ward is the editor, publisher and owner of RoundAbout.
Call him at (812) 273-2259 or email him at: Don@RoundAboutMadison.com.