Momentum is building — join us!

2017 was an outstanding year for the Vibrant Communities initiative, making us even more optimistic for 2018.

We’re invigorated by how Elkhart County’s cities and towns are working together to create better places to live, work and play.

By placing quality-of-place priorities at the center of our conversations, we are encouraging decision-makers across the county to consider this central question: Does this make Elkhart County more vibrant?

The Little BIG Idea Grant, in only a few months after its launch in August, funded 11 fun, creative, quirky events and programs in every community. We’ve seen pumpkins race downhill in Middlebury and painted rocks hidden all over Goshen. In the next year, we’ll be enjoying a Lunar Lunch in Bristol, a countywide treasure hunt, and thought-provoking student works of art.

The videos depicting the events and projects that have already happened are inspiring beyond words. Perhaps you’ll want to apply for a grant in 2018?

In downtown Elkhart, we’re excited to see the Elkhart Health, Fitness, Aquatics and Community Center rising on the banks of the St. Joseph and Elkhart rivers, the Stonewater at The Riverwalk apartment development along Elkhart Avenue, and the restoration of the historic Hotel Elkhart building into a hotel again.

Goshen is going strong, even amidst road construction projects that have challenged the people who live and work there. Downtown businesses are thriving, helped along by a burgeoning arts scene that is supported by the new Mayor’s Arts Council. Indeed, the arts are rising in prominence in all our cities and towns with the Elkhart County Arts Alliance.

The Nappanee and Wakarusa communities have come together in a collaboration that leaders say is unprecedented on a massive project to build a premier soccer complex and pave the way for improvements to the Boys & Girls Club, Family Christian Development Center and Elder Haus.

Did you know Middlebury loves its trails, parks and downtown? A new biking/walking trail opened over the summer, and parks from Krider World’s Fair Garden to Riverbend Park are alive every weekend with people enjoying fresh air, the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail and festivals. It’s hard to find a time when Middlebury isn’t bustling with activity.

We’re not just patting ourselves on the back. The Indiana Chamber of Commerce recognized the city of Goshen as its 2017 Community of the Year. In reality, the honor was a culmination of years of work that city leaders, business owners and residents of all walks of life have put into building a collaborative community that works together, resolves differences amicably, and enjoys the fruits of a great downtown, verdant parks and an engaging arts and cultural scene.

Goshen has plenty to speak for it, but we think the rest of Elkhart County’s cities and towns are pretty close to that standard too. There’s always 2018 for another Community of the Year Award here, right?

And that brings us to next year. The Vibrant Communities initiative will keep on working to position Elkhart County for long-term success and growth. Our steering committee brings together a diverse, brilliant and energetic team of leaders from all corners of this area.

We know how passionate our neighbors are about the place that they live. We know that fantastic ideas are waiting to come forward to join the ones that have already been launched.

Whether you’ve been part of this movement — attending our workshops on placemaking, place identity and branding, and arts and aesthetics, attending a Community Conversation, or giving us feedback — or you’re just awakening to the energy building around Elkhart County, we invite you to join us in 2018.

Get Involved

Share your thoughts online!

The Process

Vibrant Communities worked through 2016 to engage Elkhart County residents to identify the top ideas that became part of the Action Agenda.

Answers to common questions

Why is this being done?

Communities are strongest when they can satisfy the needs of residents to live comfortably, enjoy free time with family and friends, and build friendships with their neighbors. Strong communities understand the priorities of its residents and act as passionate stewards of those features. To maintain this in the future, communities must continue to invest and champion efforts that enhance the overall quality of place.


Who is taking the lead in this process?

The process is being led by a 27-member Steering Committee representing a wide range of interests from across our county. The group is made up of community leaders, elected officials, and residents. A full list of Steering Committee members and their affiliations included below.

Why now?

This is an important moment in time for our county’s communities. Factors such as aesthetics, arts and culture, and connectivity are becoming more important as people choose where they live. As a county, we must continue to be proactive to retain and attract talented young people, encourage new investment, and promote our communities as exceptional places for residents and businesses to put down roots.

What do we hope to accomplish?

The Action Agenda’s projects, policies and programs address many aspects of life in Elkhart County, from parks and aesthetics, to the arts and building stronger connections among communities, to enhancing communications. We will advocate for the Action Agenda and assist local government and community groups to help them become a reality.


How will this impact me?

If you live in Elkhart County, this process could impact you. If you care about the kind of communities your children and/or grandchildren will inherit, this process needs your input. It’s critical that you get involved. Several large and small-scale meetings will be convened during the process where we’ll ask hard questions and form recommendations.

How is this different than past plans?

The Vibrant Communities Action Agenda will build off of past planning efforts, but focus squarely on quality-of-place opportunities. The Action Agenda has proposed projects, policies and programs for communities within the county. The focus on 2017 will be on prioritizing and implementing those projects, policies and programs.


More questions addressed in Frequently Asked Questions, click here

Get involved…

1. Help spread the word about the process.

2. Volunteer to help make the actions a reality.

3. Attend an Implementation Workshop throughout 2017.