Imagine One 85 Draft Plan Released
4 Mar 2022
The Community Foundation of Wabash County and Grow Wabash County have released a draft of the Imagine One 85 comprehensive plan. The 100-page, seven-chapter plan includes 85 action items aimed at growing Wabash County’s population and is available for all to read at cfwabash.org, growwabashcounty.com, and imagineone85.org. “On behalf of the IO85 Steering Committee members, we express appreciation for hundreds of citizens representing all communities in Wabash County who engaged in Focus on the Future meetings, surveys, and the Mighty Wabash County Summit last July,” said Patty Grant, Executive Director of the Community Foundation. “Despite the limitation of the pandemic, an engaged public submitted more than 1,000 comments regarding ways to grow Wabash County and realize a bold vision for the County’s future.”
“Great communities don’t just happen - they result from engaged citizens, thoughtful planning and collaborative leadership,” said Mark Becker of Becker Consulting who, on behalf of Parkview Health, has assisted many northeast Indiana communities with strategic plans. “The communities of Wabash County are to be congratulated for coming together to “Imagine One 85” - establishing a shared vision and shared goals for the future development of the county. Amazing things can happen when opportunity meets preparation - with this plan, Wabash County is preparing itself for an exciting future!”
The plan’s 85 unique recommendations are organized into four topic areas that emerged through community engagement sessions and technical analysis. These areas include (1) Great Places: preserving, enhancing, and strengthening the natural environment; (2) Prosperity: fostering a strong entrepreneurial spirit, growing the economy, and supporting educational and professional development; (3) Housing and Community: increasing residential options and diversifying housing stock; and (4) Foundations: strengthening and modernizing infrastructure and improving community connections, design, and efficiency. First to be addressed are a select number of priority actions aimed at reversing population decline. The plan closes with an implementation agenda that keeps the plan moving forward and avoids the common problem of comprehensive plans—good plans that get shelved.
“Population loss is the county’s most serious threat,” says Keith Gillenwater, President and CEO of Grow Wabash County. “We were thrilled to partner with the Community Foundation of Wabash County and all of the communities of Wabash County to create urgency and awareness about the complicated and damaging dynamics of population loss. The Imagine One85 Plan will serve as the roadmap to rewriting the future that others have predicted for us.”
Funded in part by a GIFT VII leadership grant to the Community Foundation from Lilly Endowment, Inc., the efforts included an in-depth study of County economics and demographics. Announced in June of 2019, the comprehensive work had has engaged multiple firms in the technical analysis. They included: the Community Research Institute at Purdue University Fort Wayne, Transform Consulting Group, Becker Consulting, Make No Small Plans, LLC, planning NEXT, Ninigret Partners LLC, Burges & Niple, Policy Analytics, LLC, and One Lucky Guitar, Inc.
“It’s incredibly exciting to have reached this point in the Imagine One 85 process. Hours of work were given by everyone involved. Thorough deliberation ensured that the comments and ideas heard throughout the process would be ideas that everyone in the community could take ownership of. We encourage anyone who reads the plan to find a way to participate in its implementation, whether by sharing the plan with others or by getting involved with one of the organizations recommended to lead some of the proposed action items,” said Melissa Ford-Kalbfell, Development Associate of the Community Foundation.
You can find the comprehensive plan at cfwabash.org, growwabashcounty.com and imagineone85.org. Hard copies of the plan can also be requested by contacting the Grow Wabash County office 260-563-5258, or Community Foundation of Wabash County office 260-982-4824.