Tracy Fox with Develop Culver, a nonprofit organization that focuses on revitalizing and sustaining the growth of downtown Culver, is excited about the opportunities ahead for the area.
“Develop Culver is an Indiana Main Street Downtown Affiliate member, and part of a statewide network of communities who share both a commitment to creating high-quality places and to building stronger communities,” Fox says. “The Indiana Main Street program is administered by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs [OCRA].”
Fox notes that Develop Culver’s vision is to help create a unique and vital downtown that enriches the business community, promotes tourism, embraces history, celebrates the arts, preserves the natural environment, and promotes quality events.
“Develop Culver’s mission is to seek to stimulate downtown revitalization, and preserve the historic commercial core by encouraging cooperation and building leadership in the business community,” she says. “We also want to improve the appearance of the business district, promote the business district as an exciting place to live, shop and invest, and strengthen and expand the community’s economic base.”
Develop Culver is a 100% volunteer organization, led by an active board.
“I serve as the board president and am supported by a diverse board with a breadth of experiences and connections to Culver,” Fox says. “One of the primary activities we have been involved in over the past two years is around resident recruitment, economic development and quality-of-place initiatives.”
In 2021 Develop Culver was awarded a Taking Care of Main Street grant from the OCRA that allowed Develop Culver to work with a consultant on a project they called Make Culver Home, to help the organization gain a better understanding of how to convert more part-time residents to full-time residents.
“Over a six-month period, Develop Culver and enFocus Inc. analyzed local property data from Marshall County’s geographic information systems, conducted an online survey of 213 residents, held three focus groups and held 19 one-on-one interviews,” Fox says. “Based on the results of the activities, some priorities were identified as opportunities to raise the attractiveness of Culver, and to ideally ‘Make Culver Home’ to current part-time residents or prospective new full-time residents.”
The priorities were to implement more year-round activities and amenities with an emphasis on the wintertime, prioritize reliable broadband across the Culver community as well as build a remote workspace hub with reliable internet and office space in the town of Culver, and create more opportunities or special occasions for all Culver residents to assemble.
“The project ended in October 2021, at about the same time the town of Culver launched an economic development initiative called Crossroads Culver with a mission to foster an innovative and vibrant community that values collaboration and drives growth unique to Culver,” Fox says. “The team is really a partnership of individuals representing a broad spectrum of the Culver community and its organizations including county and town officials and government leadership, local community schools and Culver Academies, Visitor Center, Develop Culver, and community business leaders.”
Fox says Develop Culver board members are actively involved in all of the four subcommittees – Quality of Place, Leadership Capacity Building, Business Development, and Communications and Marketing, as well as a Housing subgroup.
“Based in part on the results of the Taking Care of Main Street grant, the Housing subgroup is actively working on helping inform Culver’s Comprehensive Plan currently under revision, as well as providing input on a recent development project that seeks to bring a wide variety of housing options,” Fox says. “Those options include single family, townhomes, apartments, senior housing, etcetera. This type of effort is what was envisioned as part of the Make Culver Home project, phase two, so it is great to see that the initial findings and work of Develop Culver are helping inform important economic development work taking place on a larger scale.”
Volunteers are urged to get involved with Develop Culver.
“The best way to get involved is to volunteer to serve on one or more of the four subcommittees to be part of the planning for Culver’s future, through strategic planning and through working collaboratively towards a shared vision,” Fox says.
Fox notes that people can keep up to date on Culver happenings through Facebook.
“Develop Culver started a Facebook page called Culver Small Business Owners and Managers that anyone can ask to join,” Fox says. “Email is also good. I administer a town-wide Google Groups email list called TownGownandLake, where the over 1,300 subscribers share information about what is going on in and around Culver. Town leaders often post upcoming meetings and other important town-wide events and actions.”
Fox adds that people can also participate in or view the Culver Town Council meetings.
“All Culver Town Council meetings are videotaped and posted on the town’s YouTube channel, and other town-related meetings include the Culver Redevelopment Commission and Planning Committee,” Fox says. “The Board of Zoning Appeals are open to the public. The town website provides details at townofculver.org.”
Fox notes that the Culver Visitor Center also provides a good way to stay updated.
“Culver offers events and activities year-round,” she says. “You can follow the Culver Visitor Center on Facebook and Instagram at findculver.com and @findculver.”
In addition to the links, people are welcome to email Develop Culver at email@example.com.
“We are also working with the Culver Visitor Center and others to develop a community calendar and hope to have a website up and running as well,” Fox says.
Members of Develop Culver are excited to have been selected to host a Main Street Community Exchange this summer in Culver as part of OCRA’s Indiana Main Street program.
“Community Exchanges give communities an opportunity to discuss local issues, learn from each other on how to resolve issues, and discover innovative tactics Main Street communities are employing to address the needs of their communities,” Fox says. “The exchanges are open to community leaders and other main streets across the state.”