Frankfort ready for Stellar Communities site visit

May 13, 2013

Representatives with the Stellar Communities program are visiting Frankfort Wednesday.

The city is a finalist for millions of dollars in funding for economic development projects offered by several state agencies. It’s competing against Angola, Bedford, Petersburg, Richmond and Wabash for one of two designations.

Mayor Chris McBarnes says their application will have a huge impact.

“We told a story, not only through our final application but our letter of intent, of building a regional workforce that will be second to none,” he says,  “of quality of life enhancements that will affect not only people living in Frankfort, but will affect people living 100 miles away from Frankfort.”

The city’s proposed projects include:

  • Construction of an urban park along Prairie Creek in honor of WWII pilot Adrian Marks
  • Streetscape projects for the courthouse square and adjacent roads
  • Restoring the Gem City parking garage and downtown storefronts
  • Creating a senior housing facility located at a former elementary school

McBarnes says part of the site visit process will be taking representatives to the places and showing them drawings of what the finished project will look like.

“Then around those rendering boards, key community leaders and partners directly affected in a positive way by those projects, able to state their philosophies and viewpoints on why Frankfort is not only deserving of ‘Stellar,’ but how the projects are intertwined in a very strategic manner.”

He says with or without a Stellar Communities designation, the city will complete the goals it’s made.

“If we win ‘Stellar,’ it just means we'll get them done in three years, instead of ten years. But, if for some reason my community is not designated a Stellar Community,” he says, “we will continue on, we will thrust forward, and we will find a way to make these projects happen, because we believe in them that much.”

Funding for the Stellar Communities program is provided by the state’s Office of Community and Rural Affairs, the Housing and Community Development Authority, and the Department of Transportation.

McBarnes says a final decision on the two Stellar Communities should be made within a month.

Another nearby city, Delphi, was named a Stellar Community last year and is sharing about $20 million over the next several years with another Indiana city.