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'The beginning' of Terre Haute's tomorrow

Leaders unveil 10-year plan to create a better future for the city

January 30, 2015 - There are those who hope it will be a landmark date in the history of Terre Haute.

Dozens of Terre Haute leaders gathered Friday morning to unveil a 10-year plan designed — among other things — to uproot and destroy the idea of “Terrible Haute” once and for all. They hope their efforts create a new path and better future for the city.

As their motto states: “Our future starts today.”

We must “once and forever pronounce the death of ‘Terrible Haute,’” said Norm Lowery, CEO and president of First Financial Bank and chairman of Terre Haute Tomorrow, a volunteer group of civic leaders promoting growth and opportunity. The group met for two hours at the First Financial Bank conference center on South Seventh Street where they received colorful, bound copies of the 40-page Terre Haute Tomorrow “community plan.”

A full copy of the plan is available at www.terrehautetomorrow.com, the organization’s new website.

The participants, consisting of about 75 government, education, business and non-profit leaders, are mostly professionals who believe Terre Haute has deeply rooted problems but also untapped potential. They want to erase the pessimism that seems part of the culture of the city and replace it with hope. To that end, they have a created a document filled with short- and long-term goals for improving the city.

The only rule for involvement in the group is to be passionate about making a positive change, Lowery said. “This is hard work,” he said.

At Friday’s meeting, the leaders of THT’s five “action teams” spoke about their specific goals for the next 10 or more years. The five teams deal with 1) quality of life and community image, 2) economic development, 3) workforce readiness, 4) leadership development and 5) infrastructure.

The five areas overlap. Workforce readiness affects economic development, for example. But the teams have spelled out specific goals and, in some cases, split into subcommittees to carry them out. For example, the quality of life team has a “cultural arts” subcommittee charged with setting up a “wayfinding” by 2016 to direct visitors to various points of interest, such as the Children’s Museum or the Swope Art Museum.

The plan also discusses ways to promote unmanned “drone” aircraft at the Terre Haute International Airport, a possible multi-purpose sports complex, creating a leadership institute and much more.

The goals and strategies spelled out in the plan are “fluid,” said Steve Witt, president of the Terre Haute Economic Development Corp. and co-chairman of the Economic Development action team with businessman Greg Gibson. The goals will be periodically revised. New ones will be added; some will be dropped, he said.

Terre Haute Tomorrow is a product of the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce and the Terre Haute Economic Development Corp. It has its roots in a 2001 effort that spawned the Economic Development Corp., the “Level Above” logo and more.

“This document is the beginning,” not the end of the process, said David Haynes, president of the Chamber of Commerce at the end of the meeting. “We’re going to nurture it and feed it...It’s going to be real and we’re going to see it grow.”

From the Terre Haute Tribune-Star
Posted: Saturday, January 30, 2015
By Arthur Foulkes
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