Long-range planning that brings together diverse local interests in an effort to collaborate on community improvements often launches with a flourish but then settles onto a shelf to gather dust.
That was remarkably NOT the result when the group known as Terre Haute Tomorrow emerged on the scene about 10 years ago. While skeptics were certainly watching closely, the group pressed its agenda, probing and prodding, assessing strengths and weaknesses, and building alliances that would eventually help produce the most significant community transformation in decades.
There was plenty to motivate that group. The community’s image, inside and outside, was flagging. The statewide view of Terre Haute was as a model of economic stagnation. There was no united strategy for economic development. In fact, there were competing interests. Downtown rehabilitation had made progress, but big problems remained. The political sector was bogged down. The community was void of visionary leadership.
Terre Haute Tomorrow coalesced a group of people from all segments of the community and was able to spark a number of initiatives that bore fruit and are still contributing to progress today. Among the notable results were creation of the Terre Haute Economic Development Corp. and the group now known as Riverscape. It also spawned the branding effort that produced the “Terre Haute: A Level Above” marketing campaign.
Within the climate created by Terre Haute Tomorrow, major positive changes have taken place. Perhaps the most important among these is that the community’s spirit and image have improved significantly.
Last week, Terre Haute Tomorrow revived itself in hopes of building on the numerous successes the community has enjoyed the past 10 years. About 90 people from various sectors participated and divided into subgroups to begin their work. They will be assisted by a consulting firm to help produce a broad plan over the next three to six months.
It’s impossible to know how this will all turn out, but recent history indicates it has a good chance to spark fresh initiatives and renewed momentum.
We suspect there are fewer skeptics this time around. The political arena has improved considerably, which adds to the already robust activity in the business, health care, education, cultural and nonprofit sectors.
Terre Haute, we’re convinced, will be better because of this new effort. We offer our encouragement in dealing with the challenges ahead.