The program leader gave hope to attendees wishing for downtown revivals. The Saratoga Springs, N.Y., native said that downtown “has killed two malls” due to its walkability, good product mix and regular events. In Indiana, Valparaiso is a classic example, according to Wilcox. Leaders tore down old buildings to create a greenspace and amphitheater. Now residents flock to artisans’ and farmers’ markets and congregate at “great restaurants.”
A more recent example is the rehabbing of Fountain Square just south of downtown Indianapolis. “Having leadership and folks who really cared about it and people seeking out information and people there to coach them through” made the upgrade successful.
Beaulieu concluded, “You’re really shortchanging yourself if you can’t think beyond the boundaries of your county.” He said attendees should consider focusing on first and second stage enterprises, not just the mega-employers.
Debbie Blank can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.
First in a two-part series • Part 2: The need to nurture entrepreneurs will be published Friday, April 11.