In 2018, the Lily Endowment Inc. announced the seventh phase of Giving Indiana Funds for Tomorrow (GIFT VII). As part of GIFT VII, the Kosciusko Community Foundation was awarded, in March 2019, a Community Leadership Planning Grant to undertake a county-wide citizen outreach.
Between July and August 2019, KCCF contracted Becker Consulting to conduct eleven Hometown Chats, inviting citizens to share concerns and aspirations for their communities and compare broad community input with issues previously identified by KCCF’s board and community leaders. Additionally, KCCF staff facilitated a chat with the Chamber of Commerce’s Young Adult Professionals members to solicit input from young community leaders. The top four issues that were identified in the Hometown Chats were: the need for community planning and long term visioning, access to affordable housing, access to local childcare, and workforce preparation. The number one priority identified was the need for community planning and long term visioning, which is why the community has prioritized the multi-jurisdictional comprehensive plan.
With one of the top priorities being Community Planning and Visioning, KCCF, Kosciusko County and K21 Health Foundation, in partnership with the Michiana Area Council of Governments (MACOG), came together to invest in a multi-jurisdictional strategic planning process aimed at identifying the unique, local assets and challenges. The analysis of these assets and challenges would help in establishing a shared vision and creating an actionable plan for the communities to achieve their goals.
A final planning consultant team led by Taylor Siefker Williams Design Group was selected in December of 2020. In January of 2021, the project team officially kicked-off an anticipated 14-month planning process which is detailed here.
A summary of the planning process and key findings are provided below.
OUR PRIMARY GUIDING GROUPS
A successful county-wide planning process ensures that residents and businesses from all four corners of the County are engaged and heard. In order to do this, the project team recruited several different guiding groups to help communicate information. There were five primary groups acting as plan advisors, each of which included local representatives.
EXPLORING STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSESS
The ‘Information Gathering Phase’ of the FORWARD Kosciusko County effort focused on identifying the County's future vision, identifying the community assets that can be leveraged moving forward, and uncovering the the challenges to achieving
community goals in the future.
The process provided a focused look at Kosciusko County including the communities of Burket, Claypool, Etna Green, Leesburg, Mentone, Milford, North Webster, Pierceton, Sidney, Silver Lake, Syracuse, Warsaw and Winona Lake. Statistics, metrics and key findings were documented to provide a snapshot of existing conditions that can be used to measure future improvement and success.
Input and Ideas
CONNECTING TO A WIDE AND DIVERSE GEOGRAPHY
To ensure that all residents and stakeholders had the opportunity to be a part of this unique process, a variety of outreach exercises were incorporated to provide multiple avenues for gathering feedback regarding existing conditions and local issues,
needs, and the aspirations of local and county residents. Outreach exercises were also used to promote a sense of community and foster stewardship for the plan by underscoring that participants’ voices have been heard and that their ideas have influenced the final decisions.
During this initial phase of work, all meeting and workshop summaries were also posted to
the project website to provide more in-depth coverage detailing public feedback.
EXPLORING FUTURE OPTIONS
To gain additional input on the scenarios we encourage you to review the information provided below and provide your comments and questions using the linked survey forms.
The maps, graphics and corresponding comment form were also provided as a part of our public open houses held on November 15 in Syracuse and November 17 held in Mentone.