More than 70 citizens showed up to listen and ask questions at Wednesday evening’s public forum put on by 2019 Terre Haute mayoral candidate and businessman Pat Goodwin in the Vigo County Public Library basement.
Goodwin — a Terre Haute native, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology graduate and former city engineer who stressed that this forum was not “a political event” — did share his views on “How we make Terre Haute a great American city.”
He listed the common traits of great cities: 1.) Clean and attractive; 2.) High-performing local government; 3.) Strong economically; and 4.) A special “thing” that sets them apart — a unique advantage.
Regarding the clean-and-attractive aspect, Goodwin pointed out there’s not a lot of litter in those cities.
“People tend to clean up after themselves,” he added. “There aren’t very many condemned or dilapidated buildings. And when buildings get condemned, they get torn down pretty quickly. ... We would see beautiful parks and public spaces that are well-maintained at all times.”
Goodwin said the high-performing local government might be the most important component of the four.
“Once you get the right people in place in positions in local government,” he noted. “Then you can really work toward this clean and attractive community.”
Goodwin summarized the speech portion of the night by saying, “In other words, to attract, we have to be attractive.”
He then entertained questions and comments from the audience. One of the first focused on making a bigger deal about Terre Haute being a “college town.”
“We don’t tend to behave like one a lot of times,” Goodwin said. “We don’t seem to embrace our college-town identity very easily. I’ve never necessarily understood that. ... Let’s face it. We are a college town.”
Museums, sporting events, the arts and health-care providers also were mentioned by the mayoral candidate as significant draws.
“I see that we have this great opportunity to be the outdoor recreation capital of the Midwest [drawing applause],” Goodwin noted, mentioning the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course in eastern Vigo County as an example.
Late in the presentation, Goodwin said that all of these nice things would be attractive to potential employers.
“You’re going to have people who will say to you, ‘We had this idea about having the outdoor recreation capital of the Midwest,’ and they’re going to say, ‘I don’t use any of that stuff,’” Goodwin explained. “And the answer that you need to give them is ‘You might not use them, but the company that you might want to work for might locate here because that stuff is here.
“If we can attract businesses here because we have all these assets and we’re marketing these assets, it’s going to help everybody, regardless of whether everybody uses them.
“This is going to give us mojo, for lack of a better term. We need some mojo in Terre Haute.”
David Hughes can be reached at 812-231-4224 or at email@example.com. Follow David on Twitter @ TribStarDavid.