TERRE HAUTE —
Dozens of Terre Haute community leaders gathered downtown Tuesday morning to learn their city has been named “Community of the Year” by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.
Business, education, health care and government leaders crowded into the Wabash Avenue offices of the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce to hear Kevin Brinegar, president of the Indiana Chamber, make the big announcement.
The 20 Hoosier cities that have won the honor since 1990 have “all demonstrated tremendous public and private sector cooperation, working toward the ultimate goal of improving both the area’s business climate and the quality of life for residents,” Brinegar said. Past winners have included Indianapolis, Noblesville, Anderson, Evansville, Valparaiso, Muncie and greater Lafayette. “Now, we add Terre Haute to that list,” he said.
Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett will formally receive the honor at the Indiana Chamber’s 21st annual awards dinner in Indianapolis on Nov. 9, Brinegar said. Television journalist and author Tom Brokaw will be the event’s keynote speaker.
“What a great day for Terre Haute,” Bennett told the crowd of community leaders, which spilled out of the Chamber’s conference room into the hallways. “It’s all about the team effort.”
About 20 Hoosier communities applied with the Indiana Chamber, a pro-business organization, for the 2010 Community of the Year recognition, Brinegar said. Several different factors — including the Riverscape project, significant downtown revitalization, large-scale healthcare investment and the continued growth of the area’s four institutions of higher education — contributed to Terre Haute being selected for the honor, he said.
Terre Haute’s winning of the 2010 Community of the Year award was not the result of one person, group or business, said Rod Henry, president of the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce, which nominated the city for the award. “It is recognition of Terre Haute’s spirit of cooperation, collaboration, consensus-building affecting public-private partnerships, vision, patience.”
Several years of effort went into earning the Community of the Year award, Henry said. Actually achieving the honor is “certainly not the beginning and definitely is not the end. It is a stage in our transformation from what once was described as a model of stagnation into a community that is truly a level above.”
Also at Tuesday morning’s ceremony, Henry unveiled a new logo, developed by the Terre Haute-based marking firm MillerWhite, commemorating the Community of the Year recognition. The Tribune-Star printed window signs bearing the new logo for distribution. The local Chamber also has established a task force to help the city capitalize on the honor, Henry noted.
Past winners of the Community of the Year award have used the honor to promote their cities and build civic pride, Brinegar said after the ceremony. He is not aware, however, of past winners creating a logo, printing window signs or taking some of the other steps Terre Haute community leaders already have done.
“I’m impressed,” Brinegar said. “I think that the Terre Haute Chamber and the Terre Haute community will take this and use this for community pride and business recruitment, maybe above and beyond what we’ve seen” from other Community of the Year winners.
Bennett said being named 2010 Community of the Year presents “a great opportunity” for future growth. “We can showcase ourselves around the rest of the state, and hopefully make some of our folks here that are a little stubborn be more proud about our community and jump in with the rest of us and get involved with progress and moving Terre Haute forward.”
Arthur Foulkes can be reached at (812) 231-4232 or firstname.lastname@example.org.