Communities of Wabash County Launch Imagine One 85
21 Oct 2020
Wabash County, IN __A team of elected and appointed officials, civic leaders, and organizations is launching an innovative, comprehensive planning process for the five incorporated communities of Wabash County.
The plan, called ?Imagine One 85,? is prompted by Wabash County’s steady and alarming decline in population that threatens school funding, industry and job growth, economic development and competitive wages, the availability of retail and professional services, and home values. Together, leaders and citizens from all sectors of the county will develop a bold, comprehensive plan for the growth and prosperity of the entire county and the incorporated communities of La Fontaine, Lagro, North Manchester, Roann and Wabash.
The first community involvement opportunity – ?Focus on the Future Community Workshops? – will take place during the week of November 9 with in-person meetings planned in each of the county’s incorporated cities and towns. This round of engagement will also include virtual events and special stakeholder sessions.
Registration is not required but appreciated for all events and is available at ?www.imagineone85.org?. To ensure the safety of participants and event volunteers, all events will adhere to strict safety protocols outlined by the ?Indiana Department of Health?.
The workshops will begin with a brief presentation from the planning team on the county’s most important conditions and trends. Attendees will be asked to share their thoughts and ideas about the future of their community and Wabash County overall. This input will be used as foundation blocks for the Comprehensive Plan.
“Imagine One 85 is our opportunity – as a committed network of communities – to stem the tide of population decline,” Patty Grant, executive director of the Community Foundation of Wabash County, said. “This is THE issue for our county and its inheritors. We have to work together to build great places, expand opportunities and improve livability for our residents. We have a great opportunity to chart this path with Imagine One 85 through an unprecedented co-funded initiative between the Community Foundation of Wabash County, Grow Wabash County and Lilly Endowment Inc. ”
The Comprehensive Plan will be a long-term guide for decision making within Wabash County. The plan will address topics such as land use, housing, financial conditions and planning, economic development, public health, transportation, and others. While comprehensive planning is a common practice for individual cities, the collaborative approach designed for Imagine One 85 is unique in the State of Indiana. The process to create the plan will last just over a year and will include numerous opportunities for community members to get involved and share their ideas and input through in-person and virtual engagement sessions.
“We need the community to get involved in this process for it to be successful in the long-term. We get the opportunity to interact with a number of other regions through our work, and the places that are winning are working together and making plans,” Keith Gillenwater, president and CEO of Grow Wabash County, said. “This isn’t just a land use plan or an economic plan, it’s a plan for the communities of Wabash County and the growth and prosperity of our county.”
Imagine One 85 is led by a 19-member Steering Committee made up of elected and appointed officials from each of the county’s communities and county government. In addition, an Outreach Team–consisting of more than 100 community members–will assist the steering committee in spreading the word about the process and key community engagement opportunities. A multi-disciplinary consultant team led by Planning NEXT of Columbus, Ohio, is facilitating the process in close coordination with leadership from the Community Foundation of Wabash County and Grow Wabash County.
Imagine One 85 is led by the CFWC and GWC and a team of elected and appointed officials representing Wabash County, the City of Wabash, and the towns of LaFontaine, Lagro, North Manchester, and Roann. The process is funded by the Community Foundation, a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., Grow Wabash County, Manchester University, all of the county’s incorporated communities and private citizens.
Visit the Imagine One 85 process website to find out more about the process and register for an upcoming community meeting.