Marshall County Crossroads Presentation at the Statehouse

Sean Surrisi speaking about the Rees Theater project

Tuesday morning I braved the elements to head to Indianapolis to support the Marshall County Crossroads team for their Stellar Presentation. This was their last effort and last chance to make an impression on the State officials that would be judging the competition this year. This was Marshall County’s second attempt at Stellar Region Designation. The experience they gained last year showed.

Linda Yoder speaking about Quality of Life Initiatives

I had attended the workshops at Swan Lake, served on the housing committee and helped with the LIHTC portion of the application, so I was familiar with the goals and the changes from last year. I think this year’s application was much stronger than the year before. It was obvious that community engagement was better and the initial partnerships had grown. There was a lot more buy-in from community groups. An example of these expanded buy-in was through the Marshall County Community Foundation (MCCF). They purposefully reviewed the grants in their Fall round for projects that enhanced not just the Stellar application, but the overall Quality of Life plan. Linda Yoder, MCCF Executive Director, was one of the presenters.

Jonathan Leist speaking on the Owner Occupied Housing Initiative

Last year there was no IHCDA LIHTC project, but this year I stressed the importance of including LIHTC. This year there were two – one in LaPaz and one in Plymouth. I met with representatives of all of the communities, but only LaPaz and Plymouth felt that LIHTC was a fit for them, were able to come of with property and were willing to pass supportive resolutions. Brent Martin of SRKM Architecture also stepped up to spearhead the IHCDA Owner Occupied Housing portion of the application, so overall the housing section stood out.

The Presentation Team on stage fielding questions

While the presentation was well done, what really stood out was the Question & Answer section at the end. All the presenters were seated on the stage and the State Agency’s asked them questions about the initiatives. The answers were provided seamlessly by various representatives and without any competition for the microphone. They worked well together as a team. Some of us were in the audience as back-up if in depth questions came up. There were very few of those that the presenters couldn’t answer on their own. They were well prepared.

The team had arranged for students from some of the schools to be there. Unfortunately, due to the weather, the number of students were limited, but because of the efforts made to involve them, the attendance was appreciated. At one point, somewhat out of the blue, the INDOT representative turned to the students and asked them questions. With no preparation or expectation of this, the two students that spoke answered the questions flawlessly! Very Cool!

Overall I was impressed with Marshall County’s leadership for stepping up to this. The highest Kudos go to Ginny Munroe, Culver’s Town Council President, for stepping up to this challenge. On the heals of Culver’s Stellar Designation, this was a big undertaking. Culver has been moving their Stellar projects forward while this has been happening at the County level. Despite this, Ginny stepped up and lead our region, building on the experienced gained in Culver. I think that was key to making Marshall County competitive. If Marshall County wins, Culver’s assistance will have been a huge part of making it happen.

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