Health & Heritage Stellar region wins $14 million grant

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GREENFIELD, Ind. – Highly-coveted state funds will help boost two Hancock County communities. The Indiana Office of Community & Rural Affairs awarded the region of Greenfield and Fortville as one of the two Stellar Communities grant winners for 2018.

This was the first year that the funds were given to a region, rather than an individual town or city. The two communities, along with the Hancock County government, made up the Health & Heritage region.

"It was very exciting to hear the words from the Lieutenant Governor," said Fortville planning administrator Adam Zaklikowski.

The region can get between $14 million and $15 million in funding for a variety of qualifying projects. Money will become available starting in 2019 and will fund projects for the next several years.

"It just helps us move our timeline up on getting our capital improvements plan accomplished," said Joanie Fitzwater, the planning director in Greenfield. "We have great plans for the city and our region. Partnering with Fortville was such an easy marriage for us. We are so similar in so many ways."

While not every project the region is considering may happen, some are more likely than others and a couple are underway that will now be part of the Stellar program.

In Fortville, the Mt. Vernon Trail project will go under the Stellar umbrella. It will connect neighborhoods to the school district in town.

Next year, the plan is to begin work on the project known as the Broadway Commons, a Forza Development. The developer said it will hold close to 50 multi-family workforce housing units. It will also include a dozen retail spaces.

The development will replace a car wash in town, which the developer also owns.

"It’s really an exciting project because it’s a way to get a mixed-use building that enhances our built environment, especially along Broadway," Zaklikowski said.

In Greenfield, work at Franklin Park where an all-inclusive park is getting constructed is also part of the program. It’s located next to several baseball fields behind the junior high school.

One project that could happen in the Hancock County seat is converting the town's old grain elevator into an apartment building.

The region was one of two winners, the other from Allen County. It also beat out another local team, the Mt. Comfort Corridor region, made up of the Hancock County communities of McCordsville, Cumberland, and New Palestine.

Leaders from Fortville and Greenfield said their neighboring communities had reached out to congratulate them on the Stellar designation.

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