Vibrant Community

Our communities become enriched with culture, art, and dining creating a tight-knit and welcoming atmosphere.

What it’s all about

A vibrant community is one that people naturally gravitate towards and take pride in being a part of. People will never lack something to do. You can wake up early in the morning and head over to the local cycling studio to meet up with friends for a workout. On your lunch break, you network with other professionals in the cafeteria of their coworking space. When you want something to do, you can walk to thriving downtown areas. The sides of the buildings are painted with beautiful murals created by local artists. The downtown restaurants feature several unique cultures and styles, so there is something for everyone. The nearby parks are bustling. The playgrounds are packed with children, and there is a crowd gathered for the finals of a locals-only tennis tournament. In the distance, you can hear the outdoor amphitheater featuring a new local band. This type of community is not far out of reach for Jasper and Newton counties; and we can help you get there.

Vibrant Community by the numbers

$ 10000
Food Sales per capita
Net Out-Migration
Based on estimates from Jan 1, 2023

1. Establish Third Places

Establish and support gathering places that can adequately serve as a “third place” to residents in all communities.

The Brookings Institution lovingly refers to third places as the “living rooms of our communities.” These places offer space to gather, chat, share, and commune and can take a number of forms from coffee shops to cafes to recreation centers. Importantly, though, third places are considered the building blocks of great communities. They bring us together, create parity, and democratize the lived experience in ways that few other institutions can do.

In both Jasper and Newton counties, third places are hard to come by and aren’t diverse or dispersed enough to serve our many small communities. Third places of the past have given way to automation and e-commerce, and adequate replacements haven’t grown to fill the niche. More functional zoning, incentivizing, and better community communications will help us promote third places. As we drive forward our home, we must certainly give it an adequate living room.

2. Diverse Dining Options

Attract and retain a diverse and high-quality range of dining options.

Nothing is more central to the creation of a vibrant downtown space than adequate dining and restaurant options. Regardless of community size, shared dining experiences play an important role in building a tighter-knit community, offering a more experiential visit for outsiders and tourists, and creating a cultural center for residents to share experience and trade stories. Nothing is more central to the creation of a vibrant downtown space than adequate dining and restaurant options. Regardless of community size, shared dining experiences play an important role in building a tighter-knit community, offering a more experiential visit for outsiders and tourists, and creating a cultural center for residents to share experience and trade stories. 

At present, both Jasper and Newton counties rank among the bottom 5% of counties in Indiana in terms of restaurant density and lower still in cuisine diversity.

A better future for our communities means attracting, building, and retaining more diverse dining options to support a vibrant community. For this reason, it ranks second in our priorities.

3. Events Communication

Ensure that all local events and activities are communicated in an effective and easy-to-access way.

As technology has taken over, our front porch communities have disappeared and, with them, has gone our ability to communicate amongst our residents. In years past, a tighter social fabric allowed news and events to travel through an informal network with relative ease. Today, that fabric is weakened and stretched; messages get lost and fall away.

Are people more distant? Do they want to be more insular and shut off? The answer is a simple and resounding, “No.” It is incumbent, then, on us to evolve our social fabric to meet their needs. We must develop communication tools and products and leverage the ones we already know are popular to ensure that our methods of communication meet the market demand.

With an improved communications effort, we’ll quickly see our social fabric tighten, our events become more popularized, and a push for more vibrant activities to follow.

4. Active Lifestyle Opportunity

Increase the opportunity to engage in individual physical activity and group sports.Telemedicine can and will provide improved access to healthcare services badly needed by our communities.

Our population suffers from health ailments, obesity, and physical and mental distress. We must generate and highlight opportunities to live a healthy and active lifestyle.

5. Develop Trails and Greenways

Develop a purposeful set of trails and greenways to connect into surrounding trail systems.

Perhaps our most valuable asset is our beautiful land. We must create opportunities for its exploration, connecting ourselves to trails and greenways from neighbors.

6. Establish Purposeful Festivals

Establish and support annual festivals unique to each town.

Though it may sound simple, these festivals are indicators of success in our towns and give our communities an opportunity to showcase our assets and wares to one another.

7. Active Lifestyle Technology

Leverage tools to connect and register active residents and youth with local activities.

In order to deliver on the promise of an active lifestyle, we must find a technological solution that connects our community members to potential activities.

8. Healthy Lifestyle Education

Develop a community-wide program to encourage healthy lifestyle choices for all ages.

Both mental and physical health are lacking in our education system. As a community, we must meet the challenge by delivering a better education on these topics.

9. Access to Events

Improve access to local events and activities.

We must create more accessible and consumer-driven events in each of our communities.

10. Access to Clubs

Improve the amount of and access to community clubs, groups, and meetups.

Community clubs and organizations give our population an outlet for civic-minded energy.

11. Improve Communication with Technology

Leverage technology and tech literacy to significantly improve communications inside and among towns.

Many of our community challenges can be filed away under “communication problems.” We need to develop a system by which we can better and more efficiently communicate.

12. Diverse Grocery Options

Develop, incentivize, and maintain adequate diverse grocery options.

Many of our communities are becoming fresh food deserts, with nary a grocery store in range. We need to ensure that we have access to fresh and nutritional foods.

13. Leverage Data for Planning

Track and assess participation in cultural offerings and use of public facilities for better planning.

We can’t fly blind. We must implement a tool for robust data collection so that we can make informed and efficient decisions about asset planning and building.

14. Cultural Tourism Marketing

Improve awareness of cultural and community offerings outside of our communities.

Independently, our offerings can’t drive tourism, but taken on a whole, they build a rural lifestyle tourism that sells.

15. Support Local Art

Create and adequately support an emerging local arts scene at and between communities.

It’s time we highlight our strength in this arena and build community around our passion for arts.


Revitalize Firehouses for New Businesses

The Description

Several people in our initial interview mentioned that there are several old firehouses—beautiful buildings—that are sitting empty, vacant, and abandoned. We see this as a missed opportunity. We will, through the guidance of a committee, provide funding for small business owners who have an idea on how to convert these firehouses into a business.

The committee will hear several ideas and review applications, and then the winner will be granted a portion of the funds needed to convert these spaces into what they had imagined. There will be some guidelines in order to ensure that these spaces are updated effectively and so that they are able to preserve some of the history behind the buildings.

This would be a great way to revitalize portions of the community, bring in new businesses, and beautify some areas by updating older buildings. This could even play into the plot point of developing third places if one were made into a community center or some other form of gathering place.

The Rational

These abandoned buildings are an opportunity for growth. With the existing infrastructure, not as much cost would be required in order to update and rebuild. This would also promote local entrepreneurship and would get members of the community excited to see what is built.

The outcomes

We will want to track these new businesses as they get started and measure the ROI of our investment by how many people are taking advantage of and frequenting these new spaces.



Small Business

Plot Points

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Bring Together Central Indiana

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Food Pantry Meat Supplement

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