Draft Action Agenda details 75 projects, programs and policies to enhance Elkhart County’s future

A drastically expanded bicycle/walking trail network, a boost for public art and enhanced community amenities such as events, gathering places, parks and downtown beautification were among the 75 items presented Tuesday night, June 7, 2016, at the Vibrant Communities Summit on the Future.

An energized crowd of nearly 500 people left on a high after hearing not only the ambitious Draft Action Agenda but also a new $50,000 micro-grant program intended to give creative ideas throughout Elkhart County a spark.

Pete McCown, president of the Community Foundation of Elkhart County, announced the Vibrant Bucks micro-grant program at the conclusion of Tuesday’s events at the Lerner Theatre in downtown Elkhart.

The micro-grant program will allow individuals, small groups and community arts and cultural organizations, among others, to seek funds in amounts of no more than $1,000 for fun, creative projects that take place in Elkhart County. Vibrant Bucks funding is not intended to fund any of the Draft Action Agenda items, many of which are larger in scope than the intent of the micro-grants.

Jamie Bennett, Executive Director of the ArtPlace, delivers his keynote address at the Summit on the Future.

Jamie Bennett, Executive Director of the ArtPlace, delivers his keynote address at the Summit on the Future.

Vibrant Bucks is being funded by equal contributions by the Community Foundation and the Elkhart County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Guidelines for receiving the funding, which will become available in 2017, have not been fully defined but are expected to be loose on rules and restrictions so as not to stifle creativity.

As part of the public unveiling of the Draft Action Agenda, attendees of the Summit on the Future were asked during an open house to comment and critique each of the items, and to volunteer to be part of any of the initiatives listed.

Organizers will continue to receive feedback at www.VibrantElkhartCounty.org in the coming weeks as the initiative’s Steering Committee works to put the finishing touches on the Action Agenda.

A series of implementation workshops will also be offered over the next year to assist Elkhart County residents in bringing into reality the ideas presented in the Action Agenda, said Diana Lawson, executive director of the Elkhart County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The Vibrant Communities initiative launched in January and, over the course of several community and small-group meetings, nearly 4,000 comments were collected from almost 1,000 Elkhart County residents. The information was distilled by focus groups into the 75-item Draft Action Agenda.

Anyone unable to attend the event on June 7th is encouraged to go online to read the draft Action Agenda and provide their comments. Visit: http://vibrantelkhartcounty.org/the-action-agenda/ 

The Vibrant Communities initiative is co-sponsored by the Community Foundation of Elkhart County and the Elkhart County Convention & Visitors Bureau. The two organizations are dedicated to quality-of-place projects which improve Elkhart County communities and economic interests.

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