ELWOOD — The uptown area in the city of Elwood could regain its vitality and return to its former glory by developing restaurants and recreational options for families, according to a preliminary market analysis presented to the community Wednesday by Ball State University officials.

The analysis, which evaluated population factors, business saturation and income included a look at five-minute, 10-minute and 20-minute distance radius.

“I guarantee you every business looking at Elwood or downtown Elwood is looking at these factors,” project manager Brian Blackford told about 25 people Wednesday.

The analysis, a collaboration of several BSU departments, the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, USDA Rural Development and the Elwood Main Street Organization, is part of a nine-community pilot program.

A full report is expected to be delivered before the end of the summer.

Blackford said Elwood is made up of two kinds of communities: traditional living residents and heartland communities.

“It’s highly unusual to be described as being in two types of communities,” he said.

Traditional living families usually are younger and have children. Those in Elwood are a median age of 35.5, have an income of $39,300 and care about schools.

“This does say they will support new commercial development that improves quality of life,” he said.

Heartland families are a median age of 42.3, have an income of about $42,400, are semiretired and prefer outdoor activities, Blackford said.

“They’re willing to invest in local projects if they support the local community,” he said.

Elwood resident Barbara Snipes, 87, who has lived there since she was 3 years old, reminisced about walking through the uptown business district to look in the store windows.

“I’m just interested in the town, and I’d like to see it as it used to be,” she said. “I’m really encouraged about getting some professional help in here and getting this going in the right direction.”

Elwood Mayor Todd Jones said he believes the information gleaned from the final study will provide a good launching point for uptown revitalization and will be put to use similarly to information contained in the city’s comprehensive plan.

“It’s very important to hear the thoughts of people in the city of Elwood, not only in the uptown district but in the outlying areas as well,” he said.

Marcy Fry, economic development director for the city of Elwood and director of the Elwood Chamber of Commerce, said Wednesday's meeting brought out a diverse cross section of the business community.

“Tonight was a time to give them a voice,” she said.
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