BATESVILLE — As a new year begins, local community leaders look back on the accomplishments and challenges of the previous year and ahead to the goals of the new.

The city of Batesville relies on strong community values and community enthusiasm. A focus on small business, community cooperation and philanthropy are a few of the things that distinguish Batesville from many other Hoosier small towns.

Challenges to an entire city can be much bigger than those faced by an individual, but can also be tackled by a much larger public. Like any section of society, Batesville faced its own challenges in 2021, but celebrated achievements along the way as well.

In this story, Ripley County Community Foundation Executive Amy Streator, Community Development Director Tricia Miller, Batesville Main Street Executive Director Tina Longstreth and Economic Development Commission Director Sarah Lamping comment on the city’s recent past and near future.

2021 Challenges

Streator faced a shared challenge of non-profits across the country: limited resources. This causes groups like RCCF to prioritize programs which will receive funding.

“Southeast Indiana is blessed with innovative thinkers who are passionate about making our communities the very best they can be,” Streator said. “The challenge is lack of resources from personnel to finances.”

Miller explained that the greatest challenge she experienced while working to grow the local community in 2021 was not taking up the challenge to expand the community, but maintaining the momentum.

Lamping, Longstreth and Miller agreed that the pandemic, a lack of housing, workforce retention and attraction, and stiff competition by large online businesses against small business owners were more challenges faced by the city at large.

2021 Accomplishments

Streator is proud of the development of new, and the expansion of existing, inter- and intra-county collaboration initiatives over the last year. Specifically, the reintroduction of Believing and Achieving Dreams (BAD), which supports and helps develop entrepreneurs as they start and grow their business.

Additionally, A Greener Tomorrow was launched to serve Ripley and Franklin counties in preserving and protecting Indiana’s natural habitat, and Women’s Giving Circle is a collective focused on providing local women with the means to make positive change within their community.

Longstreth said completing the Women’s Park and George Street Bump Out gathering spaces were Main Street’s biggest accomplishments of the year. That project began in June 2020 and involved writing many grants, conducting a Patronicity fundraising campaign, a paver brick sale, and navigating the project to completion during the time of Covid price increases and delays.

Miller commended the city’s rural community vitality. Responses to the challenges of the year helped build a stronger, functioning community, according to Miller.

“Batesville depends on maintaining adequate infrastructure, having access to services, enhancing business and economic opportunities, and establishing policy settings to foster positive outcomes,” Miller said. “In 2021, we had to rely on our community rethinking its assets, developing networks, building local cooperation and acting on local passion and motivation.”

The $20 million READI funding in addition to the small business grants awarded to those that were heavily impacted by the pandemic (33 local businesses in Ripley County) and the $45,000 awarded by the Batesville Area Improvement Grant were the top three accomplishments of the past year from Lamping’s perspective.

2022 Goals

Streator plans to continue expanding her knowledge of the world of philanthropy to ensure that RCCF’s work continues to be meaningful and impactful.

“I hope to have the insight to recognize quality opportunities as they present themselves and the knowledge to identify the people best suited to take advantage of those opportunities for the betterment of the whole,” Streator said.

Miller intends to engage more community members in the city’s new “Build Better in Batesville” campaign and continue to better understand the influences affecting community enthusiasm and motivation.

For 2022, Longstreth explained that the Main Street board is currently working on their work plans and focusing on the following overarching strategies for 2022:

1) Business Activation and Development

2) Community Serving

3) A hybrid of Placemaking and Beautification

“We will be holding a public annual meeting in February, and we hope many will come to learn more about Main Street and share their ideas for what they’d like to see in our downtown district,” Longstreth said. “The evening will be casual and interactive, in a mixer format. Details will be coming out soon. It will be another busy year, but we are all excited to get going!”

Josie Clark: josie.clark@greensburgdailynews.com or 812-651-0873.

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