KOSCIUSKO — Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation President George Robertson was in attendance to provide a KEDCo update at the Kosciusko County Redevelopment Commission quarterly meeting held Thursday, June 14.
According to recent studies, Robertson said, larger cities are seeing slower population growth while small to medium sized towns and cities are seeing more growth. Robertson referenced the growing number of young Americans returning to the small to medium sized cities they left after college. These millennials, referred to by some as “boomerangs,” are moving back to their hometowns from larger cities.
“All of a sudden we have a generation that has totally changed perspective on some things,” said Robertson.
Referring to the affordable housing shortage in Indiana, Robertson reminded commission members that Kosciusko County experienced a ‘rude awakening’ some time ago, when Zimmer Biomet, who has plants in both Warsaw and Puerto Rico, had 200 families they wanted to move from Puerto Rico to Warsaw but said the problem was that there was nowhere to put them.
“They ended up bringing 45 families to our area, with 30 of those families going to Whitley County,” said Robertson.
“Does anyone know how many counties in Indiana have a housing development director?” asked Robertson. “It’s zero.”
“We need to look at where we’re going and how we’re going to get there,” Robertson stated.”More cities and towns and counties are adopting incentives for people to move there than for businesses to move there.” He explained that affordable housing is the single most important thing that can be done to retain our businesses.
Jim Moyer gave an update on the progress of the Louis Dreyfus drainage project, stating that the project is running behind schedule. Mike Kissinger was not able to attend the meeting due to a surveyors’ conference. Moyer said the project will be completed by the end of the summer.
“We realize it’s an important issue and you want it to be done right,” said Kosciusko Redevelopment Commission President Bruce Woodward. “We appreciate you taking the time to make sure it’s done right.”
County Auditor Michelle Puckett, who acts as treasurer for the Redevelopment Commission, shared information related to tax increment financing fund balances. Puckett described the three categories of TIF funds, including ones that have no debt at the current time, ones that have money borrowed from the county EDIT fund and ones that have bonds that are outstanding. Redevelopment commission members passed a motion confirming that there is no TIF excess AV at this time.
New reporting requirements will be starting July 1. Puckett explained that this will require a report to be submitted at redevelopment meetings containing information about each one of the TIFs. Redevelopment Commission Secretary Joni Truex volunteered to compile the information for the September redevelopment meeting. Puckett said they should be receiving a memo in the near future outlining more specific requirements for this.
President Bruce Woodward then proposed that the Redevelopment Commission form a meeting group to become involved, and present an opinion or plan to assist the US 30 Coalition in making a decision with the US 30 freeway project.
“This is an opportunity for our community to plan ahead and determine what this community is going to look like in 30 to 40 years,” said Woodward. “There are a lot of factors involved in this.”
“I think it’s nice that the Redevelopment Commission is going to be proactive instead of reactive,” said Truex.
Officials from Kosciusko County have been working with six other counties along the US 30 corridor to address the state’s long-term plans to improve safety and traffic flow along the highway. Design and engineering will not begin until project funding is identified and an environmental study has been completed.
Currently, the US 30 freeway project plan involves constructing the road into a limited access freeway in order to improve safety and traffic flow. In total, seven counties in the US 30 corridor are involved in this plan. This includes Allen, Whitley, Kosciusko, Marshall, LaPorte, Starke and Porter counties. Community conversations and planning discussions have begun in all seven counties of the US 30 Coalition.
On the US 30 portion in Kosciusko County, there are 12 stoplights, 17 intersections and 34 driveway cuts. In comparison to other counties involved in the project, Kosciusko has one of the highest numbers of stoplights along the roadway.
From 2011 to 2016, at the Parker Street and US 30 intersection alone, there have been 127 vehicle accidents. And from 2014 to 2016, there have been 11 fatalities in crashes that occurred at US 30 intersections in Kosciusko County. Commission members agreed they would be interested in forming a meeting group to discuss this.
- The next quarterly meeting will be at 1 p.m. on Sept. 13.