Chelsea Schneider, Municipal Innovations Specialist
For Greensburg Mayor Dan Manus, the city’s downtown is a key focal point.
“My feeling is that downtown is the hub or heart of the city, and if our downtown is vibrant and thriving then everything else grows from there,” Manus said.
So Manus is concentrating on doing just that, by partnering with Main Street Greensburg to launch a Distinctive Place project. The project will bring $75,000 in improvements to downtown, with community leaders raising a portion of the amount through a new crowdfunding tool offered by the state.
Now, Greensburg plans to add three murals in downtown, including a signature piece by artist Kelsey Montague that will depict wings. Plans also call for new trash and recycling bins, benches and wayfinding signs.
The project is part of Greensburg’s goal to focus on quality of life, and to further the branding of downtown as a unique place to visit.
“It was outstanding,” Manus said of the Distinctive Place’s campaign. “The community helped us with the project, and we’re trying to get the community to be involved.”
Greensburg fundraised through a new state program, CreatINg Places, which gives local government and non-profit leaders a way to directly appeal to donors through the crowdfunding platform Patronicity.com. The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority provided $1 million to match locally-raised funds.
The tool allowed Greensburg to measure community support for the project, said Wendy Blake, executive director of Main Street Greensburg.
“We all want these quality-of-life amenities, and the taxes we pay don’t go far enough to cover those,” Blake said. “With crowdfunding, you get buy in from all the people in the community, and they’ll probably take care of (the finished product) more.”
The downtown project comes as a group of high school students is participating in the “My Community, My Vision” program. The program, run by the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority and Ball State University, allows young people to develop community vision plans. In the plans, students outline amenities they want their communities to offer in hopes they live there as adults.
The students noted they wanted the city’s Fall Festival to return and grow, and also spoke of parks and trails.
“The majority of them did want to come back to Greensburg, so that was exciting to me,” Blake said.