Through the gracious contributions of the Lilly Endowment, I have been given the opportunity to work alongside the Mayor of Crawfordsville, Todd Barton ’00. As his intern, my primary task has been to assist in the application process of the Stellar Communities program. The Stellar Communities program is a partnership comprised of various state agencies to help spur community development in smaller communities. If a city is designated as a ‘Stellar Community,’ it becomes the higher priority for existing grant funding from the state. This enables communities to execute high-dollar projects on a much shorter timescale. Much of the application process has involved outlining projects the city plans to pursue if awarded this designation.
Mayor Barton has approached this year’s application by identifying two overarching problems in Crawfordsville. First, the city has noticed a void of young adults, ages 22-35, residing in the community. Second, more professionals working in Crawfordsville are commuting from other areas to work. To remedy this, the city is working to improve a quality of life. In turn, this will draw those demographics to Crawfordsville. Perhaps a unique project of Mayor Barton’s vision is Fusion 54.
Many Wallies are aware of the recent opening of the Wabash Center for Innovation, Business & Entrepreneurship in the Chase building. The Wabash CIBE is conveniently housed alongside Indiana West Advantage, the Chamber of Commerce, and Crawfordsville Main Street. These organizations are strategically housed together to promote healthy collaboration across these separate entities. Furthermore, it enables young talent from Wabash to be actively engaged in the community where their skills are put to good use. Fusion 54 is modeled on this concept but a much larger scale. The Fusion 54 building would be located on the corner of Washington and Franklin Street where it would house the same organizations plus a tourist’s center and senior center in a 20,000 square ft. building.
My duty is to coordinate with the department heads on collecting the necessary materials for the application process. I work with an Anderson University intern on visiting the potential sites of these projects and take pictures to send to the engineering firm. I also serve as a peer editor to Brandy Allen, director of Planning and Community Development, on the writing portion of the application. However, if I am not working on Stellar, I am in charge of other tasks, such as organizing job fairs, writing proclamations for the Mayor, or sending out press releases to local media.
This internship has been a great experience as it has highlighted the importance of the liberal arts. Throughout the summer, I have dealt with a wide variety of issues relating to political science, economics, sociology, and many more. Despite my intention to be a psychology major, I feel well equipped for my internship because of the valuable critical thinking and communication skills Wabash has instilled. Again, I would like to thank the Lilly Endowment and the entire staff at the Crawfordsville City Building.