Crawfordsville's mayor plans to create a more localized economic development board after nixing an agreement between the city and a group that had been tasked with promoting it.
Mayor Todd Barton says the current system is broken – his alternative would create an economic development authority made up of city and county officials, which he says would market the city better. “I didn’t feel we were getting that,” Barton says. “I felt we were getting more of a group that wanted to create plans and really wasn’t out there aggressively trying to promote our community. And that’s really what I’m looking for.” Barton says a new board would bring increased transparency, as it would abide by open door laws concerning meetings and finances. The mayor says he’s exchanging ideas with other government officials and hopes to have the group established by the end of the year. Members of Indiana West Advantage say they were taken by surprise. IWA executive director Tom Utley says Barton has been a board member since Indiana West Advantage was created. “A couple weeks ago, he stated publicly that he intended – that the city intended – to continue funding IWA for the foreseeable future,” Utley says. “So it was a bit of a shock.” Utley says the organization must consider the lack of local government funding moving forward. Barton believes a new authority he hopes to create will receive more money for economic development because of what he calls ‘a direct line of accountability.’ The city currently budgets $75,000 a year for economic development. Both the mayor and IWA officials say the community’s economic wellbeing is the priority and that there are no hard feelings over the decision.