Angola in spotlight at OCRA conference
By Mike Marturello | KPC Media - The Herald Republican
It was Angola’s and Steuben County’s time to shine during a regional conference of the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs at Pokagon State Park on Wednesday.
People from all over northeast Indiana attended the event, which was one of six held or being held across the state. Angola served as the host city. The keynote speaker, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, talked about the character cities must possess in order to compete for new businesses and jobs and the programs put in place by the Legislature and Gov. Eric Holcomb.
“One word comes to mind: character. Think about all the places you’ve ever been and then think about the places that stick out most in your mind as memorable,” Crouch said. “Angola has that character. It can be seen downtown in your buildings, murals, and new investments. Because of your location off of Interstate 69 your downtown is very visible.”
Crouch said Angola was an example of how risk takers lead the way with investments in their communities.
“As Hoosiers, we celebrate the risk takers that blaze a trail for others. We embrace the American dream and believe that with hard work, those dreams can become a reality. We see the evidence of that reality in the explosive new growth here in Angola, Indiana,” Crouch said. “The governor and I are proud of your contributions. We thank you for your commitment to our great state.”
In the past couple years, Angola has been on the receiving end of grants and program participation with OCRA. These include:
- OCRA funded Caleo Café $10,068 to repair windows and upgrade the storefront in this downtown Angola business
- OCRA hosted Musicant Placemaking workshop last summer that brought in many people from the Main Street program
- Downtown Angola Coalition was one of the pilot Main Streets to receive the Transformational Workshop training
- Angola was an Hometown Collaborative Initiative community in 2017, which led to much self-study on the needs of the community.
The agenda included presentations on various ways communities can utilize OCRA and other state agencies like the Indiana Department of Homeland Security and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. These departments, as well as the director of broadband opportunities, will share how cities and towns in Indiana can increase the quality of life in their communities with state assistance.
“These conferences are opportunities to network with the stakeholders and communities we serve,” said Jodi Golden, executive director of OCRA. “Sharing best practices and new resources is vital to creating a vibrant, rural Indiana.”
Crouch pointed out that OCRA was a valuable partner in growing rural Indiana.
“And you all are shining examples of the best of Indiana through your collaborations utilizing OCRA programs,” Crouch said. “Jodi Golden and her OCRA team has continued to work hard and I’m happy to share that all of their 2018 funding has worked to increase quality of life for Hoosiers.”
Crouch emphasized a common theme that has been at play in Indiana the past four years: quality of place.
“As we continue to grow, we must invest in our quality of place and economic development. Today, these two ideologies work together to attract new Hoosiers and preserve our legacy,” Crouch said.
The conference provided information, resources and networking opportunities to local elected officials, Main Street organization staff, local and regional economic development officials, community foundation staff, convention and visitors bureau staff and educators.
“Our pioneering spirit is alive and well, because as Hoosiers, we are independent, we work hard, and understand what really matters,” Crouch said. “Just as you work day in and day out to leave your space a little better for your children, Governor Holcomb and I want to work alongside you so we can take our communities to the Next Level!”