Community members are invited to offer input on the Vibrant Michigan City initiative at 6 pm Thursday April 20 at the Michigan City H.O.P.E. Community Center, 222 McClelland Ave.

The Community-Centered Economic Inclusion initiative recently launched locally with a kick-off meeting of the coalition advisory team and representatives from the Brookings Institution’s Bass Center for Transformative Placemaking and the Local Initiatives Support Corp.

“As our advisory coalition continues to meet on a monthly basis, we also need to incorporate perceptions and perspectives from our residents,” said Clarence Hulse, Executive Director of the Michigan City Economic Development Corporation. “Our focus is on the Midtown, East and West neighborhoods as we delve into how we can cultivate economic prosperity for all of our community members.”

The Learning Lab is in the engagement period and information-gathering process through July 2023. The goal is to unite community stakeholders from the city, nonprofits, businesses, elected officials, economic development experts and the real estate arena to inspire ideas that will lead to a more economically inclusive community.

“We truly want accountability and ownership of this plan by as many community members as possible in order to set the stage for a successful implementation,” Hulse said. “We do not see this as a research project that just looks good on paper. We see this as a plan of action locally created for our community by our community.”

The effort is also supported by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation and focused on small cities located in the state of Indiana’s READI program regions. Through READI, 17 regions across the state that represent all 92 counties are moving forward with projects and programs designed to enhance Indiana’s regions for current and future generations of Hoosiers. The collaborative initiative also unites city and regional stakeholders to garner vital input from all corners of each community.

Additional Indiana towns that are participating include Seymour and Warsaw. Each town will develop a CCEI agenda upon completion of the Learning Lab to detail how to address economic stagnation and inequity. These individual agendas will come together into a playbook that will be shared on a national platform to spotlight how rural and small cities can work together to ignite  prosperity.