Griffith focusing on business

2012-02-26T00:00:00Z Griffith focusing on businessBy Lu Ann Franklin Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
February 26, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Bolstering existing businesses and attracting new enterprises remain major focuses for Griffith. So does transforming the downtown into a walkable, "people-oriented" community.

Last summer, students from Ball State University's community-based projects program conducted an extensive study of Griffith and held a two-day workshop attended by more than 100 town residents.

The resulting Imagine Griffith incentive is being driven by town residents, said Jon Terpstra, chairman of the Griffith Redevelopment Commission and the Imagine Griffith effort.

Some businesses in Griffith's downtown along south Broad Street suffered during the state-mandated road construction and sewer installation during 2011. Sidewalks also were torn out.

Just as the project seemed near completion, the Local 150 Operating Engineers strike ground the Broad Street construction to a halt in June and July.

Traffic and customers returned to the downtown once the road project was completed in late summer. Now "the town that came to the tracks" is experiencing a renaissance of its downtown, according to economic development officials.

A facade program was among the first phases of the downtown's revitalization that began in 2008, and is changing the face of Griffith, Terpstra said.

The program has now expanded geographically to include all of Broad Street, 45th Street from Highland east and Main Street from Colfax to Cline, he said.

Another expansion in this program helps businesses update infrastructure, including HVAC systems, and remodel interior spaces, Terpstra said.

Griffith also is expanding its economic development area and creating a new economic development zone, said George Jerome, a member of the Griffith Town Council and liaison to the Redevelopment Commission and Economic Development Commission.

The perimeters of that zone are still being determined and will be unveiled about mid-February, Jerome said.

"This is an effort to attract more businesses to Griffith, he said.

Griffith boasts a variety of available properties that can accommodate businesses of every size for lease or sale, said Rick Ryfa, vice president of the Griffith Town Council.

These properties include buildings in the downtown areas of Broad and Main streets, commercial facilities along Ridge Road and industrial sites along such roads as North Griffith Boulevard and Colfax Avenue.

"Griffith takes a customer-friendly approach to business development," he said

This year, the Town Council also is continuing its efforts to extricate Griffith from Calumet Township. Griffith pays about $2.6 million a year to the township, but receives only about $11,000 in services, Ryfa said.

In 2011, the town offered $6 million to the Calumet Township Board as a buyout, but the board rejected the offer. Legislation has been introduced in the Indiana General Assembly during this short session.

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