The cities of Angola, Madison and Valparaiso are among 15 semi-finalists in the America’s Best Communities competition. The campaign aims to "support and inspire creativity and innovation that transform communities and result in long-term growth."
The cities are competing for a grand prize of $3 million to assist with revitalization efforts. Additional prizes of $2 million and $1 million will be awarded to the second and third place finishers, respectively.
Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas told our partners at The Times of Northwest Indiana that his city’s revitalization plan is to create a downtown arts district. "The development of an arts district was always part of our downtown plan. The timing (of the contest) couldn’t be better for us. It’s paid for so far the development of a district that’s going to add to the vitality and sustainability of the downtown which has always been part of the plan. We’re going to pursue this regardless of the competition but this kind of kick started it."
All three cities were part of the 50 announced last April as quarter-finalists in the competition and were awarded $50,000 each to develop a community revitalization plan. Those with the "most innovative ideas being effectively executed" were chosen as semi-finalists.
The 15 semi-finalists will attend the America’s Best Communities Summit in North Carolina in April to present their proposals to a panel of judges and compete for additional funding. At the end of the summit, eight communities will be named finalists and win $100,000 each to help implement their plans.
The city of Wabash was one of the 50 quarter-finalists that did not make it to the next round. Keith Gillenwater, president and CEO of the Economic Development Group of Wabash County, said they were disappointed to not be selected.
"Wabash truly is one of America’s best communities," said Gillenwater. "We were honored to be selected as a quarter-finalist, and though we hoped to continue on to ultimately receive the $3,000,000 in prize money to help implement our plan; this will in no way impede our progress towards getting these great projects done that will improve our community."
The three grand prize winners will be announced in April 2017.