Brown county economic redevelopment

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BROWN COUNTY ECONOMIC REDEVELOPMENT COMMISSION

ANNUAL REPORT TO THE BROWN COUNTY COMMISSIONERS

2016 ACTIVITIES

ERC appointees for the year 2016 were David Redding, Jim Schultz, Dan Klaker, Bruce Gould, and Judy Hardwick was the school board appointee. Teresa Anderson was appointed in January but withdrew her appointment prior to the first meeting so there was one seat vacant. Nick Nungester was appointed later in January and resigned his position in August. Tim Clark was appointed in October. David Redding was elected president, Jim Schultz vice president, and Bruce Gould secretary.

Attendance at regular meetings:

David Redding Jim Schultz Bruce Gould Dan Klaker Nick Nungester Tim Clark Judy Hardwick

12 out of 12 12 out of 12 12 out of 12

4 out of 12 4 out of 8 2 out of 3 2 out of 12

Throughout the year several additional special meetings were called and will be addressed later in this report.

The budget for the ERC provided by the county was $30,000. In 2015 the county collected $748,201 in County Economic Development Income Tax funds. Additionally, $417,000 remains in an account for the ERC from the sale of the sock factory property. Spending by the ERC in 2016 is as follows:

August: discovery phase of website development

$2000.00

October: Ladd Engineering for Bean Blossom study $2380.00

October: CMS Website Development initial payment $9250.00

December: CMS Website Development final payment $9250.00

December: Eleven Fifty Academy initial payment

$6000.00

TOTAL

$28,880.00

An additional final payment of $6000 will be paid to the Eleven Fifty Academy in the spring of 2017 for services provided to the Brown County School Corporation in the way of a one week computer coding class for selected students with an aptitude for computer skills.

A new mission statement, goals, and objectives were agreed upon to provide direction to the commission. ERC members agreed to develop relationships with other county and town boards and commissions whose interactions are important for the success of all interrelated efforts. Individual ERC

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members selected specific boards and commissions to interface with and members of these other groups were encouraged to attend and participate in our meetings.

Several initiatives were considered to be of the highest priority for 2016. These included (1)development of an ERC website to provide an access point for information to any individuals or companies considering Brown County as a place to live, work, or vacation, (2) expansion of broadband service to a much greater part of Brown County, (3) encourage new housing developments to attract millennial families with jobs in order to help increase our school population and pay taxes to support the county, and (4) work with the Brown County Sewer District to provide sewage treatment to larger parts of the county.

The ERC website project has been completed and is operational. Content Management Systems, Inc. (CMS) was hired to build the site and the end product is a very nice site that can continue to be added to as more information becomes available, such as availability of specific utilities like broadband or natural gas in certain parts of the county. Many links are present that provide quick access to local government, county businesses, real estate listings, and much more. Part of this project has been to make sure the site is managed and maintained, new features are added as they become available, and any business or individual desiring additional information about Brown County can be responded to quickly. The quality of this site is very comparable to economic development sites in neighboring communities.

A `Broadband Ready Resolution' was prepared by the ERC and passed by the County Commissioners. This resolution is a signal to companies desiring to install broadband service that the county will encourage and support their activities by expediting bureaucratic and administrative processes that normally cause expensive delays in projects. A Broadband Ready Taskforce was created by the ERC and conducts their own meetings with the goal of drastically increasing the availability of broadband service in Brown County by attracting private companies to install lines and equipment. In addition, the task force is working with the county to address the major roadblock to installation--easements and rightsof-way issues. Members of the task force include Mike Laros, David Redding, David Phelps, Ric Fox, John Tiernan, and Brian Howey.

New housing developments, in order to keep the prices within the parameters desired by millennials, must be on smaller pieces of land and therefore connected to a sanitary sewer system. Smaller pieces of land also create a `neighborhood' atmosphere often desired by younger families. Discussion with housing developers reveals that a housing development of less than 50 houses is not economically feasible and most developers of houses in the $150,000 range build them in developments of 150-300 units. The ERC discussed in depth among itself and with local contractors the likelihood that what fits into the topographic limitations and available potential building sites in Brown County would be housing developments of about 10-15 units each. With housing developments limited to this size, developers cannot possibly bear the cost of running lines from a sewage treatment plant to the development in order to provide sanitary sewage treatment to the neighborhoods. The county and town must be prepared to provide sewage treatment to these developments at a cost that does not render the development unfeasible and in a very time-sensitive manner. Developers cannot be expected to wait

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two or three years or more for a sewer line to be available. No state or federal grants are available for new housing developments. There are presently no new housing developments under consideration. The county also needs to create and utilize an Economic Development Corporation to buy, sell, and hold real estate. The concept was discussed of purchasing existing houses in Brown County that are on the sheriff sale or tax sale list or houses that are unoccupied and the owners willing to sell. These houses would have to undergo an intense inspection to determine what renovations would be necessary, but these properties could be remodeled and sold. The intent would be to purchase and remodel homes that could be flipped in the price range attractive to millennials. Not only would this model provide housing but would also reduce the number of unoccupied and distressed properties that detract from the appearance of Brown County and could get abandoned properties rehabilitated and on the tax roles more quickly. Apparently a county economic development corporation may still exist from many years ago so there may be discussion forthcoming soon about reviving that corporation. Another incentive used by many other counties is to provide tax abatement for new home construction. Abatement terms vary from county to county but could be as short as 2 years and would provide some incentive at a minimal cost to the county. The ERC will probably discuss this concept with the council and commissioners in 2017.

During a joint ERC meeting in June with the town ERC, the town's consultant, Ed Curtin, advised that a housing study may be necessary to determine what types of housing are needed. This information could be useful to developers, contractors, and for any available grant money. Ed provided a completed housing study from another Indiana community that cost over $30,000 to complete but felt that a housing study could be completed in Brown County much more cheaply. Later a major housing developer stated that they perform their own housing studies and an IU SPEA professor discouraged a housing study and suggested instead to talk to contractors to see where the demand was. Since then, the same IU professor has offered a SPEA graduate student to spend the spring 2017 semester building a housing study for Brown County. This study will most likely be undertaken.

This year the ERC provided funding for the final study of the Bean Blossom sewer project. The Brown County Sewage District is working with Nashville to run a sewer line from Bean Blossom into the Nashville plant in order to provide treatment to the Bean Blossom and Woodland Lakes area. The ERC and B.C. Sewage Treatment District will continue working together on future projects to provide service for new housing developments.

The ERC determined an immediate need for what is called an `Is Map' consisting of a county map overlaid with many multiple layers of data, such as property lines, roads, all of the utility services, zoning districts, flood designations, etc. The `Is Map' would work in conjunction with the GIS mapping system for the county. One important way that such mapping would be useful would be that potential developers could see what services are available in specific areas to determine if development is feasible. Brown County already has some GIS mapping functions but the system needs to be broadened. The ERC began discussions with a company called Butler, Fairman, and Seufert Engineering from Indianapolis. This company builds and maintains `Is Maps' for a number of counties and municipalities. This company and the ERC met in November to discuss Brown County needs and the company is

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preparing a proposal for services to be presented at a meeting yet to be scheduled in January. Butler, Fairman, and Seufert provided the ERC with a sample `Is Map' to explore the possibilities for Brown County. As many layers as desired are possible for a price, to include such things as fire hydrants, manhole covers, and trees. The cost of this proposal is still unknown and how it would be paid for and by whom is also unknown. Apparently the county has the ability to broaden its current GIS system and could have the county GIS office begin to overlay the current map as data becomes available. The county would need to reach terms with employees in regards to the additional time and efforts required to proceed with expanding the current system. However an `Is Map' is created, moving ahead with this project is imperative.

Guests who attended the ERC meetings in 2016 to speak about their business activities included the Beamery owners, Scott and Dave, who spoke about the progress of their company and other occupants of the building, and Michael Stieglitz from the Chamber of Commerce spoke about the `Job Connect' initiative to have a job fair several times a year to match prospective employees with available jobs. Ann Ellis, an IU SPEA intern working with the Arts & Entertainment Commission, had spent the summer compiling data concerning the demographics of who visits Nashville and Brown County so Ann presented her survey results to the ERC, and Cindy Steele spoke to the ERC requesting that the ERC take an active role in reversing the blighted conditions in Helmsburg.

The ERC scheduled a series of town meetings in Helmsburg at the Brown County Community Church. Meetings were November 2, November 30, and a final meeting scheduled for January 11. The attendance was significant and participation brisk with the ERC planning to provide action plans after the final meeting. There is a definite need to involve several other county departments to assist Helmsburg, to include the county highway department to clean out obstructed storm drainage, the Health Department to condemn several properties, and planning & zoning to create a zoning map for Helmsburg that is understandable and correct.

Jill Curry from OCRA and Cheryl Morphew from the Johnson County Economic Development Corporation spoke at the November meeting. Cheryl provided valuable information into the Johnson County activities and offered to provide more information and invited ERC members to visit their office. Jill provided information on the various grant programs OCRA has available and offered to assist if Brown County wanted to apply. The ERC will probably apply for a county-wide planning grant in 2017.

2016 was pivotal in identifying directions that economic development should focus on. The commission members possessed diverse backgrounds that complimented each other and provided a wealth of knowledge about the county historically and the methods available to produce forward momentum with the necessary projects. The identified initiatives require long-term action plans but hopefully the foundations are set.

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