Next Muncie works to revitalize Muncie’s central core with select projects

Posted by on Feb 14, 2019 in News | 0 comments

Next Muncie works to revitalize Muncie’s central core with select projects

MUNCIE, INDIANA (EXCERPTS FROM MUNCIE JOURNAL and ALLIANCE MAGAZINE): Next Muncie–a hand-picked, 10-member group of leaders representing the area’s private, public, and philanthropic sectors–aims to leverage the community’s already robust sense of place, existing infrastructure, and leadership. With that lever, they plan to boost a few key projects that will help further redevelop and revitalize Muncie’s central city, connecting the campuses of its two largest employers, Ball State University and IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital, with the rest of downtown.

The leaders of those two anchor entities, Ball State University President Geoffrey Mearns and IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital’s Dr. Jeff Bird, led the Central City Leadership Team, established earlier this year.

Bringing a different focus than most short-term, project-targeted economic development organizations, Next Muncie focuses on a select, core-centric list of long-range initiatives that help renew the city’s stressed areas with thoughtful growth. That growth leverages Muncie’s place-based strengths. 

Vandewalle & Associates, a Wisconsin-based public relations firm assisting the group, describes Next Muncie’s efforts as “catalytic redevelopment,” or projects that naturally play to the city’s existing strengths, gaining momentum from an already-flowing energy ignited by previous revitalization. Bird believes the volunteer group’s efforts will help the community connect the dots, fusing the central city’s growing synergy with long-view development projects that will inject new life into blighted and inactive parts of Muncie’s core.

In trying to better understand the mechanics of the projects they’re pursuing, Vandewalle representatives provided the team with an example of a similar effort underway in Waterloo, Iowa. There, officials also want urban revitalization that uses a nearby river as a linchpin to connect struggling areas. Bird said leadership team members came away from that presentation optimistic.

“Quality of place is essentially foundational to attracting and retaining early careerists,” Bird said, referring to young professionals in search of a place to call home. “We have confidence that the demographic of people who work at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital and Ball State University are demanding more options for mixed-use communities. We want to be in a position to offer them things they demand in the communities where they want to live and work.”

You can read the original text from the Muncie Journal article here or link to the fall 2018 edition of Alliance Magazine here.

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