Marshall County Vision (Culver Thoughts)

I was very pleased with the turn out Saturday for MCEDC’s presentation on Marshall County Vision.  There was good participation and good support.  When the discussion turned to Regional Cities, I didn’t see much enthusiasm.  That concerns me.  Whenever I speak to anyone about Culver’s place in Regional Cities I get one of two responses (Or sometimes a combination of both.):

  1. We don’t have enough information to do anything yet.
  2. We don’t have much chance of getting any of the money.  What little comes to Marshall County will go to Plymouth.

First off, we should acknowledge how fortunate we are.  Out of seven regions, we were selected as one of the top three.  Then it was decided to award to the top three in lieu of just the top two as originally planned.  The scuttlebutt is that we were number three and   And then think about Kosciusko County.  They are probably kicking themselves right now.  They were invited to be part of our region, but instead decided they would be better served being part of the Fort Wayne Region.  Now instead of being one of four Counties dividing up $42 million they are one of thirteen!

But Marshall County and the Marshall County communities needs to get off our collective butts and start figuring out how we can benefit from this.  We are starting out at a disadvantage.  The other two Counties in our region, St. Joseph and Elkhart, have dedicated staff that are working on this.  The cities of South Bend, Mishawaka and Elkhart have City Engineers that they can dedicate to this.  Marshall County doesn’t have the equivalent staff put on this.  We’re going to have to overcome that in order to move things forward if we don’t want negative attitude #2 above to come to fruition.

As far as the lack of information goes, everyone in the three winning regions is in the same boat.  Are they just sitting and waiting?  The Fort Wayne region has CEDIT.  (Remember how we’re one of the few counties in northern Indiana that doesn’t have CEDIT?)  They are down at the State House lobbying for the ability to raise their CEDIT in order to have the extra funds needed to fully fund their matching $42 million.  It doesn’t sound like they’re sitting on the sidelines waiting for more information…

My thought process is that “planning” costs very little.  The County needs to convene a meeting with the communities and work through prioritizing their projects.  Rather than working on these tasks individually, we can maybe pool resources and make the most of what we have.  Additional “shell buildings” are included for several communities.  How about we sit down and look at Plymouth’s shell building as a model.  Do we want to duplicate that?  Probably not.  So what do we want to change?  We can talk to land owners and try and tie down sites.  We can get contractor estimates.  None of that costs money, but any of that time spent now would move things ahead.  Ditto for the Entrepreneurial Hubs.  We could be determining locations.  Talking to other communities that have them and figuring out the good and bad.  Getting contractor estimates.  This thinking could apply to all of the projects on the original submittal.

Culver is on the list for both of the above items plus a few more.  Jerry Chavez and MCEDC thinks Culver may have the best opportunities to advance these things.  Opportunity is knocking.  Or as Jerry is fond of saying, “The economic development train is passing right by us.  It’s our obligation to flag down that train.  It’s not going to stop here of it’s own volition.”

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