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4/10/2018 7:20:00 PM
State won't consider Logansport for Stellar Communities this year

Mitchell Kirk, Pharos-Tribune Staff Writer

A state agency indicated Monday it isn't considering Logansport's submission for a funding program but looks forward to working with the city on another try next year.

The Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, or OCRA, offers its Stellar Communities Program to partnerships of two or more communities, or communities and counties. The program fast-tracks economic development plans in rural areas. A maximum of $4.7 million per designated partnership, which OCRA refers to as regions, is available through the program.

Letters of intent for the Stellar Communities Program were due via an online submission system at 4 p.m. last Friday. According to information on OCRA's website, submissions had to include a project matrix, project worksheet, project area map and a questionnaire for partners and participants. 

Logansport Mayor Dave Kitchell said he was able to start a submission last Friday but that the online system would not accept some of the required documents.

Melissa Thomas, communications manager for OCRA, said Monday that the agency is not moving forward with Logansport's submission because it was late and incomplete. She added the project manager that oversees the Stellar Communities Program will reach out to the city and work with officials on making a submission next year.

Thomas said the communities identified in the submission were Logansport, Burlington, Peru, Tipton, Wabash and Winamac.

Wabash received a Stellar Communities Program designation in 2014 but past designees are eligible through the program's new regional format.

Following letter of intent submissions, finalists are announced on April 19 and their regional development plans are due in August.

Regional development plans have taken the place of strategic investment plans that were required for the Stellar Communities process when applicants could be individual communities.

Kitchell and Logansport City Council members discussed contracting with a Wisconsin firm last week to have a strategic investment plan completed. They also debated whether it could be completed by August. 

Kitchell said in an email on Monday that the strategic investment plan would have to include regional partners.

Information on OCRA's website indicates the Indiana Communities Institute at Ball State University assists Stellar Communities Program finalists with their regional development plans. The institute conducts economic and demographic analysis and provides feedback to "communities regarding their internal alignment and their alignment with each other." It also compiles and analyzes community feedback and communities' project lists.

Logansport officials last week also emphasized the importance of having a strategic investment plan regardless of whether the city ever receives a Stellar Communities Program designation.

Related Stories:
• Vincennes to partner with Bicknell, county in next Stellar application
• Two Hancock County groups competing for Stellar Communities grants
• Group of eastern Allen County communities making bid for new regional Stellar grant
• Two Hancock County groups selected as Stellar Community finalists
• Two Hancock County groups selected as Stellar Community finalists

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