Members on the Constellation of Starke executive team will be meeting this week to discuss prioritizing Stellar Community projects and ways to start getting community members more involved in the planning process.
Since discovering the region was selected as finalist in OCRA’s Stellar Communities Designation Program, executive team members were able to receive some feedback about the Letter of Intent that put Starke County, Hamlet, North Judson and Knox in the running for the regional Stellar designation.
Consultants from the engineering firm HWC met with team members on Wednesday. This is the company that’s currently working with the two towns and the county on their comprehensive plans and they said they’re interested in assisting with the Stellar process however they can.
Their reps shared how they’ve been involved with communities that have pursued Stellar designation in the past and highlighted the importance of fine-tuning your focus early on. They also emphasized developing realistic and tangible project plans that include detailed information about development and how local matches would be financed.
OCRA Community Liaison Gerry White and Program Manager Michael Sinnet met with officials on Thursday. They provided some insight about project selection and community involvement as well as some additional information about the partnering agencies that fund projects through the Stellar program.
Indiana Office of Tourism representative Noelle Szydlyk provided some feedback as well and noted that there was a good emphasis on outdoor recreation and tourism opportunities in the initial proposal.
Executive team members also heard from Miah Michaelsen from the Indiana Arts Commission. She stressed the importance of encouraging collaboration amongst the community’s creatives.
This will require some outreach to individuals within the partnering municipalities who make up the community’s art and music scene.
Both Michaelson and Szydlyk emphasized that their agencies can continue to provide additional resources and technical assistance throughout the planning process.
Those who are interested in being one of the voices that helps drive the community’s Stellar efforts should plan to attend upcoming public meetings and input sessions which will be announced in the coming weeks.
For additional information about involvement, you can also reach out to Director of Development for Starke County Community Foundation Jessica Martinović or Starke County Economic Development Director Larry Wickert.