The town of South Whitley, Columbia City/Whitley County Joint Planning and Building Department, and Whitley County Economic Development Corp., announced that an economic development plan and new Tax Increment Finance district will be put into place for the town of South Whitley.

The town of South Whitley, Planning and Building Department, and Whitley County EDC have worked together since the beginning of the year to establish South Whitley’s own Redevelopment Commission and to create an economic development plan that includes establishing the new TIF area. The plan and TIF were adopted by the RDC at its meeting on Nov. 29.

“2018 was the start of the South Whitley Redevelopment Commission, and now we already have a TIF area to work on — it’s very exciting,” said South Whitley RDC Vice President Karen Jordan. “Change is coming to South Whitley! We have some great thinkers and planners on the [RDC] board to push South Whitley onward to becoming a vital community once again.”

South Whitley’s overall goals for economic growth, as stated in the plan, include: attracting new business, improving public spaces, focusing on downtown revitalization — including preserving and enhancing the downtown’s historical character and promoting public art. To help attract new investment and development, the RDC established the new TIF district.

A TIF district is a public financing tool that supports redevelopment and community improvement projects. Property tax revenue from increases in assessed values within the district is then reinvested to support those community improvement projects.

One of the main points of focus for the initial TIF area is downtown South Whitley. This includes the section of buildings on South State Street between West Wayne Street and West Columbia Street, as well as buildings along East Front Street and the town park. In addition, the TIF area includes the South Whitley Industrial Park, which has opportunity for continued development, located along Indiana S.R. 5 on the north side of town.

“A TIF district is an important tool for South Whitley to use in encouraging investment in town,” said Nathan Bilger, executive director of the Columbia City/Whitley County Joint Planning & Building Department, and an advisor to the RDC. “The TIF can be used to leverage new business and quality of life opportunities not easily obtainable before, especially when used along with partnerships with local organizations, the recent historic district designation, and the enthusiasm of the town’s residents.”

Members of the South Whitley RDC are: Bryan Rose, president; Karen Jordan, vice president; Nate Haywood, Tim Campbell and Joe Simpson (who replaced Kris Shoemaker in October). Jorell Tucker serves as a non-voting member from the Whitko school board. Additional staff of the commission include: Janet Howard, South Whitley clerk-treasurer; Greg Hockemeyer, South Whitley legal counsel; Jon Myers, Whitley County EDC president; Sierra Lehman, a former intern with the Whitley County EDC; and Bilger.

“We want to extend a huge thank you to Greg Hockemeyer, Jon Myers and Nathan Bilger for advising us through the process,” said Jordan.

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