The (Munster) Herald-Times. November 18, 2016
Museums, attractions keep NWI relevant.
New looks and fresh perspectives keep people and institutions relevant, even while holding on to past history and traditions.
This is proving to be true where our Region's current and future museums and special attractions are concerned.
Changes to two existing Northwest Indiana museums, an innovative approach to creating a new additional facility and a bid to land a major piece of history show foresight in attracting new visitors to our Region.
A year ago, the John Dillinger museum exhibits once housed at the Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond made a move to a more appropriate, historically relevant location.
It paid off.
The newly constituted Dillinger Museum at Crown Point's Old Lake County Courthouse reported an attendance spike since the move.
The old version of the museum in Hammond reached its attendance high point in 2013, attracting 5,504 visitors that year.
So far in 2016, the new Crown Point location has seen 6,802 visitors, the museum reports. And it brought in 10,799 visitors from its grand opening to its one-year anniversary.
Why? Because when it moved, it refreshed its look and offerings. It also landed in a historic courthouse building located less than a block from where notorious bank robber Dillinger escaped from the Old Lake County Jail in 1934.
The museum now sits on the footsteps of where the actual history unfolded.
Historical tourism is consistently the second-leading reason people journey out on excursions, according to industry experts. They want to connect with tangible aspects of our past in new and relevant ways.
Porter County Museum officials also seem to realize this tourism truth.
The museum recently unveiled a new facade for an old police department building it took over to expand from its existing home in the old Porter County sheriff's house and jail.
The expansion will include new exhibits and fresh reasons for visitors to stop in.
An effort to create a completely new attraction in Whiting also deserves praise.
Whiting leaders lobbied hard to eventually become the future home for the National Mascot Hall of Fame.
Planners for the facility, set to celebrate plush professional sports mascots, broke ground last month.
The city's Redevelopment Commission is providing about $8.5 million to construct the downtown building and provide furnishings. The money comes from bonds that will be paid off from tax increment financing revenue.
Money to pay for the exhibits that Mayor Joe Stahura estimates will cost between $4 million to $5 million is being raised through private donations. He said the city is close to having private sponsors for a significant part of the museum.
The sports mascot museum promises to be the type of zany, quirky attraction that can put our Region on the national tourism map.
We also know the town of Griffith is joining the attractions chorus in its bid to become the permanent home of the ornately detailed Lincoln Funeral Train reproduction.
This array of tourism efforts should remind us all of our Region's potential as a destination for traveling and vacationing individuals and families.
The (Bloomington) Herald-Times. November 17, 2016
Tsuchiya a good fit for tech park.
It's early in the process, and we've been here before. Still, the announcement Wednesday morning about a potential major player in the city's technology park downtown was a positive and potentially exciting step.
The city has signed a letter of intent with Tsuchiya Group to establish a North American design and development center and corporate headquarters in the tech park, which has been branded the Trades District. Tsuchiya Group is the Bloomington-based North American corporate entity for TASUS Corp. of Japan. Bloomington resident and business leader Melanie Walker is president and CEO of TASUS and Tsuchiya Group North America.
The company plans to add at least 18 jobs in an area Walker said is perfect because the district is designed to have multiple creative enterprises that will create an "environment that generates ideas and excitement." But the jobs are only part of it. The company is a tech-savvy business, a growing business and has strong relationships supplying such car manufacturers as Toyota and Tesla.
The news is an important step in developing the 12-acre tech park in the northwest quadrant of downtown that was born during the administration of Mayor Mark Kruzan.
It's worth noting that in September 2015, Kruzan called a news conference to announce the city had signed a letter of intent with Indianapolis-based real estate developer Flaherty & Collins to develop nearly half the property in the Trades District.
Hamilton opposed that project as a mayoral candidate and mayor-elect, and it never materialized.
The mayor was exuberant about the prospects of the deal he was announcing. One of his main objections to the earlier project, that it was too heavy in housing, isn't relevant with the Tsuchiya proposal. The company has agreed to invest $9 million and build a three-story building of at least 40,000 square feet for its headquarters in exchange for less than one acre of land it bought from the city for $1. The project could well serve as a catalyst for other development in the area.
With Hamilton only 10 months into a four-year term, compared to Kruzan being in his last four months in office, this project is in a much better place to move forward. It looks like the perfect fit to push the Trades District toward realizing its potential as a vibrant part of the city.
The (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette. November 18, 2016
Vital faculty voices going unheard in IPFW debate.
Faculty members unhappy with proposed program and governance changes at IPFW have complained for months that their voices were left out of the decision-making process, leading to contentious changes in academic programs. Now, their voices are joined by faculty leaders beyond Fort Wayne:
. The Indiana University-Bloomington Faculty Council passed a resolution Tuesday stating "...faculty governance bodies at IPFW have protested the implementation of restructuring proposals, including the elimination of degree programs, on their campus as failing to abide by procedures for shared governance; Be it resolved that the Bloomington Faculty Council expresses its regret and concern about this apparent breach of the principles of shared governance at IPFW."
. The American Association of University Professors, the leading membership association for university faculty, sent a letter Wednesday to Chancellor Vicky Carwein. Citing a 50-year agreement between AAUP, the American Council on Education and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, AAUP's Hans-Joerg Tiede writes, "The faculty has primary responsibility for such fundamental areas as curriculum, subject matter and methods of instruction, research, faculty status, and those aspects of student life which relate to the educational process. On these matters the power of review or final decision lodged in the governing board or delegated by it to the president should be exercised adversely only in exceptional circumstances, and for reasons communicated to the faculty." AAUP concurs with some IPFW faculty leaders in concluding governance procedures were violated and asks for the program changes to be rescinded, with any further changes made in accordance with recognized practices.
. David Sanders, chairman of the Purdue University Senate at West Lafayette, visited Fort Wayne Nov. 10 to meet with administrators and faculty. In an interview following his meetings, he said the disagreement here is "a matter of a somewhat defective process and inadequate communication."
"Committees should be established through representative organizations of the faculty," Sanders said, noting that all ad hoc committees or task forces at Purdue-West Lafayette are established through the University Senate. "It shouldn't be selected individuals of the administration for participation in these processes, but it should be the faculty themselves selecting through the senatorial process. That is the way faculty shared governance should occur, and it didn't happen in this example."
Sanders offered another important observation in noting the accelerated deadline given to IPFW faculty for responding to proposed changes, fueling suspicion the changes are tied to the Legislative Services Agency report recommending the campus be split into separately managed IU and Purdue programs.
"It seems as if the rules of the game changed in the middle of the process," Sanders said. "And it appears to correlate with the intervention of the (Purdue) Board of Trustees."
"One of the problems with the board of trustees is that nothing really happens at board of trustees meetings - everything happens in their executive session, which is not open to the public. I'munder the impression that what happened at IPFW was once again heard in executive session," he said. "I'm concerned about that. I'm deeply concerned about having almost all of the actions of the board of trustees, in fact, occur in secret and only a facade of open public meetings."
Sanders said academic changes should not be rushed.
"There's no advantage to making it happen in a short period of time just so you can say it happened. ... The rush (in implementing budget cuts and the LSA recommendation) is creating a lot of anxiety that a more considered process would obviate."
He also makes this point about the role of faculty:
"Both parties think they have the interests of IPFW in mind," Sanders said. "But I have to say the faculty are the ones who have the most at stake here and they are most attuned to the long-term interests of the university and are most attuned to students."
No one disputes the need to implement cost-saving measures at IPFW. But the manner in which those measures were advanced created upheaval and uncertainty.
The trustees should step back and review whether long accepted governance procedures were allowed to work as designed. The faculty strongly argues they were not.
South Bend Tribune. November 17, 2016
A strong pitch for regional growth.
Regional Cities of Northern Indiana is still trying to reap the benefits of the state's plan to help communities improve their quality of life.
Another $1.8 million in Regional Cities money has been set aside for three projects in South Bend and Elkhart.
Part of the money would be used to pay for a Technology Training and Demo Center in the former Studebaker assembly plant that's already being developed into a mixed-use tech center. And Apex Climbing South Bend is proposing to renovate the former College Football Hall of Fame into what its CEO describes as a "world-class indoor rock climbing facility."
In Elkhart, there are plans to transform the 500 Building, formerly Hotel Elkhart, into a mixed-use development with retail, commercial, market-rate housing and a boutique hotel.
Nearly one year ago Regional Cities was awarded $42 million for projects intended to drive population growth in St. Joseph, Elkhart and Marshall counties by improving the quality of life in a region that is home to more than 500,000 residents. It's hoped the projects also will prime the region's economic pump by attracting people from outside the area.
The list of projects vying for funding is long and varied. It includes everything from a swimming pool in Plymouth intended to serve as a venue for local high school and college swim teams and clubs to a "nationally recognized" athletic complex in Elkhart that would include a pool the size and quality of the kind seen at the recent Olympics.
It's important to keep in mind that all of the projects are expensive and in preliminary stages. Although 18 projects have been approved by Regional Cities, only three have won final approval from the Indiana Economic Development Corp. The rest aren't expected to be approved until the middle of next year.
It's a long process but one that eventually could pay dividends as our region mines for new ways to engage families and their active lifestyles.
As cities and regions compete for visitors and economic development, these are the types of projects that can help communities achieve those goals.