Offer thoughts on city’s future at forum

City leaders are hoping to see more than just young professionals voice their opinions in a community forum Thursday.

The topic? What people want Seymour to be and what it will take to get there.

More than 760 residents completed the Hometown Collaboration Initiative community survey. The results have been compiled and reviewed by the HCI coordinating team and will be presented and discussed during Thursday’s forum from 6 to 9 p.m. at Seymour-Redding Elementary school, 1700 N. Ewing St. A taco bar will be available from 6 to 6:30 p.m.

During the event, residents will have the opportunity to offer input on ways to enhance the quality of life in Seymour, grow the local economy and expand leadership.

The state’s Hometown Collaboration Initiative is designed to help small communities plan and implement strategies for improvement. Seymour was one of six Hoosier communities selected in January to participate in the pilot program, which is sponsored by the state Office of Community and Rural Affairs, Purdue University and Ball State University.

“Being selected to start this pilot program is every exciting,” said Seymour Mayor Craig Luedeman, who is on the HCI coordinating team. “There is so much happening in Seymour right now to ensure a prosperous future.”

The surveys were the first part of public involvement with the initiative.

“We were really excited about the number of surveys we received,” said Tonya Couch, executive director of Jackson County United Way and HCI team leader. “The state was thrilled with Seymour’s response.”

But some demographics weren’t represented, Couch said.

“We believe that we have great representation from young professionals in Seymour, but we could use more diversity of opinion from other demographics too,” she said.

Missing from the survey data are hourly employees who graduated from high school and don’t have a college degree and anyone older than age 60, she added.

She is hoping to see those people and others Thursday night.

“The forum will be highly engaging and interactive as we work together to make our community a great place to live, work and play,” Couch said.

High school teenagers also are welcome to come to the forum and voice their opinions on Seymour and what would make it better, she added.

“We want to hear from everyone, because we all have a stake in what our community becomes,” she said.

The community forum is one of the most important parts of the HCI process, Luedeman added.

“We must listen to local residents,” he said.

The HCI team will use the information gathered from Thursday’s event to decide on an initial project to tackle this year.

“Hearing directly from our community with specifics of what they would like to see is extremely important,” Luedeman said.

Without people’s input and participation, Seymour will not thrive,” Couch added.

“There is a sense that Seymour is on the cusp of something, but people have to put in the time to make it what we want it to be,” she said. “We have to strive to get people engaged if we want to make Seymour great.”

Couch said she hopes at least 100 people attend.

If you go

To attend the forum, pre-register by calling United Way at 812-522-5450 or register online at www.indianaHCI.org/Seymour.

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January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.