DELPHI — Delphi hit it big Thursday, when state officials announced they would invest more than $20 million in the city and one other.

Delphi and Princeton were selected as the state’s 2012 Stellar Communities, a designation that includes millions of dollars in grants over the next three years to support local projects.

The total dollar amount for Delphi is not set yet, but the city requested more than $10 million in state funding to support at least $3 million in local contributions. Regardless, the designation and the funding promise to have a profound impact on the city, Mayor Randy Strasser said.

“It's huge news,” he said. “And until you're able to take a snapshot today and take a snapshot in five years, you don't know how big of news it is.”

Forty communities, including Logansport, submitted proposals this year for the program.

The top seven were awarded $10,000 each to prepare more in-depth proposals, and state officials visited each community. They were in Delphi on April 25.

Delphi’s plan includes revitalizing the downtown business district, creating paths from the Hoosier Heartland Corridor through downtown to increase tourism to the Wabash and Erie Canal Park and restoring the Delphi Opera House, according to a state press release. Officials will also redevelop the historic near-downtown neighborhoods, creating owner-occupied housing.

Officials have called the opera house restoration a centerpiece of their plans. The facility, built in 1865, will reopen for live performances, banquets, meetings and events.

“We had community members always hoping to find that pot of gold somehow to actually make some of that happen,” Strasser said.

State officials say the program allows them to provide “intentional and strategic” funding to communities.

“Collaboration among our state agencies will allow Delphi and Princeton to make a bigger impact in a shorter timeframe,” said Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman in a press release.

The prospect of that impact had Delphi residents excited as word of the award leaked out Wednesday night and was made official Thursday, Strasser said.

“People are excited about the opportunity to be a Stellar Community,” the mayor said. “They’re talking about it in the grocery store, in church... It’s unbelievable.”
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