Archives 2019

Rushville utilizes Brownfield Grant for redevelopment, building cleanup

In 2015, the City of Rushville applied for and received a Brownfield Assessment Grant from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Region 5 office in Chicago.

According to the EPA, these grants provide funding for brownfield inventories, planning, environmental assessments and community outreach.

“These are monies we put out on a competitive basis to primarily local governments,” Brownfields Coordinator with the EPA’s Region 5 office Matt Didier said. “They take that money and do the necessary environmental investigation at properties, which these grantees believe are good candidates for economic redevelopment, but concerns about possible environmental contamination are holding these projects back.”

The EPA gives out $60 million in Brownfield Grants annually. Didier said all investments must have big payoffs for the grantee community.

Approximately only one-third of all applicants receive a three-year Brownfield Grant.

“Just to get the grant Rushville had to do some good work,” Didier said. “They got some help from the Rush County Economic and Community Development Corporation (ECDC) in not only applying for the grant but also for its management.”

City officials used the grant for work and assessment at 10 sites in Rushville including the Durbin Campaign Quarters, Campaign Flats, Knights of Pythias Hall and other locations. The EPA’s investment into the Durbin Campaign Quarters was $61,205 and another $26,000 went toward the work force development training center in downtown Rushville.

“They’re going to go into the building to identify old hazardous materials that would have been in the building from previous uses,” Didier said. “So lead based paint, which was used in every building built before 1972. There’s often asbestos in these buildings because asbestos was used in things you wouldn’t even think about. Some of them may have had old heating oil tanks or there may have been a service station associated with them. These are the kind of concerns when a new purchaser is looking at a building, before they start, they want these kind of questions answered.”

Didier said Brownfield Grants help answer some of those lingering questions.

Once a city is awarded a grant, the EPA steps back and lets the grantee determine how and where to utilize the funds. However, the EPA does make sure the money is managed efficiently within the grant program’s regulations.

“They’ve been flexible and we’ve been thoughtful in the projects we’ve done,” Director of the Rush County ECDC John McCane said. “In a perfect world we use their funding to find out that everything’s fine. This takes away a lot of that mystery and there’s security of the property owner before you buy knowing you’ve covered your bases.”

Didier, McCane, and other EPA representatives recently toured local projects where Brownfield Grant funds were used. Didier said he appreciated the work the city has done.

“My opinion of what they’ve done here is great. We always like to see it when you can use our money to rehab buildings,” Didier said. “That’s one of the uses of our money that has the biggest payoff. When you’re rehabbing a building you’re bringing in a lot of money for the rehab work and then you’re going to have continued revenue and tax stream from whatever’s going into that building. We always love to see these kinds of projects.”

In addition to Indiana, the EPA’s Region 5 office oversees grant programs in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio and Illinois.

“Compared to where a lot of our grants go, Rushville is a small community. You wouldn’t immediately think a town of 6,200 has a lot of environmental problems that need to be dealt with before you can take on economic redevelopment,” Didier said. “Rushville has proved that really is not the case. For the amount of money Rushville has been able to obtain through the grant they’ve done just as much as any other grantee I’ve ever worked with. The ECDC had a really important part in the management and success of this grant program.”

Commerce Park receives Indiana Site Certified Prime Designation

Officials from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA), the Rushville Redevelopment Commission and the City of Rushville announced the Commerce Park at Rushville was designated Indiana Site Certified Prime.

“We are honored to receive the ‘Prime Shovel Ready Certification’ from the State of Indiana,” Mayor Mike Pavey said. “The Commerce Park at Rushville is recognized at the highest level established for industrial development sites in the state.”

The 288 acre site is key in demonstrating the industrial park’s logistical advantages, and is owned and optioned by the Rushville Redevelopment Commission and is zoned for heavy manufacturing.

“The availability of project-ready sites is critical to attracting new investment to rural Indiana and spurring economic growth,” Executive Director of OCRA Jodi Golden said. “Today’s economic development projects move at a swift pace and require sites be developed quickly. I want to congratulate the leadership and local partners of the Commerce Park at Rushville on receiving the prime designation.”

The city has invested millions of dollars in recent years with an initial acreage purchase under former Mayor Bob Bridges. In 2012, the city was awarded a $1.77 million grant from United States Economic Development Administration. Under Mayor Pavey’s leadership, the grant was matched with $1.77 million in local funds to develop the park to be shovel and backhoe ready.

“With less than 10 Prime Certified sites in the state, this provides an immediate advantage to our community,” Executive Director of the Rush County Economic and Development Corporation John McCane said. “The prime designation sets us apart from most communities around the state, and it will show site consultants and industries looking to expand that Rushville has one of the best sites for immediate development.”

The Indiana Site Certified Program validates sites that are ready for economic development. The program is administered by OCRA in partnership with the states Fast Access Site Team, which is comprised of multiple state agencies.

These agencies include the Indiana Department of Transportation, Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Indiana Department of Natural Resources and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.

The Indiana Site Certified Program divides industrial sites into Silver, Gold and Prime designations. The Commerce Park received Prime designation, which is the program’s top tier.

Receiving an Indiana Site Certified Prime designation means a site has/is:

  • 30 contiguous acres
  • At least 2.5 miles from a State Highway
  • Properly zoned
  • Geo tech studied
  • No recs or site clear
  • An archaeological investigation
  • The utility to property line or future build located in public right of way
  • LUG, LEDO or REDO must own property or have agreement with property owner

Site Selection Magazine Recognizes “Stellar” Rush County

Shining Stars

A program focused on quality of place is yielding positive economic and wellness results in 16 small Indiana towns — with more to come.


If you’ve seen the inspirational film “Breaking Away,” you know that the locals known as “cutters” got their name from Indiana’s limestone business, which has produced stone for famous structures around the world.

You can find out all about it at the Land of Limestone Museum, housed within Stonegate Arts & Education Center (a former Indiana Limestone Co. facility) in Bedford, a town of 14,000 known as the “Limestone Capital of the World.” Among other functions, StoneGate provides space to Ivy Tech Community College and Oakland City University.

The project is one of 12 pursued thanks to $19 million in funding from the city’s 2013 designation as an Indiana Stellar Community — one of 16 areas so designated since the program’s inception in 2011.

“Of all the projects, that’s the one I’m most passionate about,” says Bedford Mayor Shawna Girgis.

Bedford projects ranged from downtown streetscaping to the movement of an historic depot to a downtown spot where it serves as a tourism center and the trailhead for a blossoming network of rails-to-trails. “That was the most out of the box,” Girgis says, because it addressed property and redevelopment as well as community health.

Catalyst for Transformation

Indiana Stellar Communities, administered by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA), works with communities to develop their strategic community investment plans, promote local and regional partnerships and implement comprehensive solutions to challenges facing Indiana’s rural communities. In a nutshell, with assistance from Ball State University’s Indiana Communities Institute and Purdue University’s Center for Regional Development, the program helps nudge plans into reality.

“It’s transformed the area,” says Girgis.

Bedford is in a county partly served by Hoosier Energy, a generation and transmission cooperative serving 18 member electric cooperatives in central and southern Indiana and southeastern Illinois.

“Their economic development arm has been a huge asset to our community,” Girgis says of working with Hoosier Energy’s team over the years. “They’ve been great partners.”

‘The Opportunity to Be Themselves’

Other Stellar communities include North Vernon. Led by Kathy Ertel, Jennings County Economic Development executive director, the city was the first Stellar designee in 2011. As a result of Stellar projects, Ertel says she’s noticed increased investment from property owners in their downtown businesses and residences.


“Since becoming a Stellar Community, Richmond has benefited in many ways,” says Valerie Shaffer, president of the Economic Development Corporation of Wayne County. “The most visible project has been our new pocket park, Elstro Plaza, that converted an under-utilized parking lot into a central gathering place downtown that hosts a variety of events and festivals,” including a weekly farmer’s market that’s grown 10-fold since coming to the new spot.

“Elstro Plaza also allows the growing number of workers, merchants and area residents a green space to enjoy regularly,” she says. “New specialty shops on the ground floor with upstairs living for the owners is a new trend thanks to our owner-occupied housing program. All of this has helped to attract Reid Health’s back-office operation downtown, bringing over 100 workers to the area to take advantage of our new amenities.”

OCRA Deputy Director Matt Crouch says Stellar is about “breaking down siloes in coming up with a community plan, and in so doing, having the opportunity to accomplish in five years what might otherwise take 15. He says the mayor of Huntingburg has told him simply getting the designation has led to firms choosing to locate there that never would have looked outside the county seat of Jasper before. Delphi, a bedroom community to Lafayette-West Lafayette, is restoring a historic theater. Princeton — home of a major Toyota plant — is improving its quality of life so fewer Toyota employees are commuting long distances.

“I think the designation in some of these smaller communities has provided them with the opportunity to be themselves,” says Michael Sinnet, OCRA project manager handling the Stellar Communities program. In other words, a blockbuster project might take the form of block-by-block rejuvenation. “Maybe it’s just populating their downtown with entrepreneurs and small businesses,” he says, “things that increase the quality of place.”

“Since Rushville was named an Indiana Stellar Community in 2016, we have seen a true rebirth of our downtown,” says John McCane, executive director, Rush County Economic & Community Development Corporation. “We are currently tracking 86 public and private projects that constitute $91 million of investment from 2018 to 2020. Rushville is leading the way in rural Indiana, and Stellar has been the catalyst.”


Rushville Community Celebrates Grand Opening of Rush to Work Job Center

Rush to Work Job Center offers a unique “one-stop-shop” benefiting employers and job applicants alike.

Partnership was the catalyst and cause for celebration Wednesday, February 7, as the Rushville, Indiana community cut the grand opening ribbon for the Rush to Work Job Center.  Born of a collaboration among Eastern Indiana Works, Ivy Tech, the City of Rushville, and Rush County Economic & Community Development Corporation, the newly unveiled job center promises a unique regional training concept to bring employers and job seekers together.

“The Rush to Work Job Center is a testament to what a community can accomplish when all the players affected by a particular issue come together to find the right solution,” said Rushville Mayor Mike Pavey.  “We know that Rushville has a population of unskilled workers.  Ivy Tech wants to train those workers and EIW wants to put those folks to work.  Then our local industries and businesses need those employees.  This building is the ‘one-stop-shop’ where that is going to happen.”

The 6600 square-foot building, located at 306 N. Main in Rushville, a once dilapidated structure, has been completely remodeled.  It is now divided to allow space for the local WorkOne office on the west end and the multi-use training space on the east.  WorkOne is open Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., where career advisors assist potential employees with job applications, resume and interview coaching, and information about education and training options.  The area includes a conference area, classroom, and computer stations.

“We try to align our partnerships to the highest level,” said Mike Row, the CEO of EIW.  “This Job Center is very important to the future of our region.”

Kim Thurlow, Ivy Tech Workforce Consultant and Dean of Advanced Manufacturing, Engineering and Applied Science, guided the design of the training area drawing from her 20+ years with the school.  There are two classrooms, one for a computer room and the other with desks designed for lecture-style learning.  Each room has a window looking out into the open training area, so those utilizing the classrooms can see the functionality of the adjacent space.  The open concept room affords trainers to set up the room to suit their needs.  Additionally, a space enclosed by two overhead doors allows large equipment to be unloaded and stored out of sight until needed.

Thurlow said, “I’ve worked many years seeing other communities come together but Rushville has a certain chemistry.  They have the commitment and the employers who have embraced this Center to say what they need for current and future employees.  This community has truly come together to assist their employers and their residents in skilling up.”

Classroom furniture was generously provided by Ivy Tech.  Other furnishings, technology, and equipment purchases will be paid for with funding from the USDA Rural Development grant program.  What will be bought will be mostly guided by a steering committee headed by the Rush County ECDC office.  The steering committee is led by representatives of all Rush County industries.

“Today is giant step forward for Rushville, especially for the ECDC’s workforce development plan.  We want every regional industry and business to know that the Rush to Work Job Center is open ready for their use,” said John McCane, Rush County ECDC Executive Director.  “Economic development is not just a local issue; our region, our state, will rise when we work together.  The Job Center was only accomplished through partnerships and we want its success to evolve in that spirit.”

To book the Rush to Work Job Center training space, call the Rush County ECDC office at (765) 938-3232.  To reach the Rushville WorkOne office, phone (765) 932-5921.