GRIFFITH | Downtown revitalization has earned Griffith its first Main Street Award for Excellence in Economic Development from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs in Indianapolis.
The Main Street Award "is presented to a city, town or organization that provides incentives to attract new business and retain current businesses," said Shae Kmicikewycz, manager of the Indiana Main Street program.
"We look at the nature of the redevelopment program, the funding, the implementation, the number of businesses and the partnerships formed," Kmicikewycz said. "We selected Griffith because of what they're doing — the facade program and the streetscape that they've done in the downtown."
Project funding through events such as the Rock 'N Rail Festival helped Griffith, she said. Other funding comes from a settlement CN Railroad reached with the town several years ago, Councilman Rick Ryfa said.
The Office of Community and Rural Affairs visited Griffith in January 2009, and "I can see a huge difference in the downtown," Kmicikewycz said.
Community involvement has been vital to the revitalization program, Kmicikewycz said. And the progress hasn't stopped. A new "inscaping" program is making downtown Griffith more pedestrian-friendly.
New benches, landscaping and an outdoor coffee shop are helping the allure of downtown Griffith as a gathering place.
"It is very impressive to see a community do this on their own," Kmicikewycz said.
Ryfa said downtown revitalization was a joint effort of the Griffith Town Council, Redevelopment Commission, Economic Development Commission and Downtown Revitalization Committee.
"The folks from OCRA first came to Griffith almost three years ago when we asked them for some assistance," Ryfa said. "We quickly adopted the idea that Griffith's downtown is the gateway to our community and is also a reflection on the entire town.
"The improvements in such a short period of time are incredible and a testimony to the hard work put in by many people committed to revitalizing our town."