Citizens group plans project

A group of local residents who want to make Seymour better has decided to focus its efforts on placemaking.

After discussing and analyzing input from a May 7 public forum, the Seymour Hometown Collaboration Initiative has chosen placemaking for its community building block above improving the economy and leadership.

The HCI team, made up of local business and community leaders, will meet again in July to begin planning a capstone project based on placemaking and to start recruiting more members to make that project happen.

Options include arts, culture and historic preservation; improving downtown or other public spaces; and building a local foods system.

Tonja Couch, a leader of the HCI team and executive director of Jackson County United Way, said placemaking offered the best options to make a lasting and positive impact on the city.

“Throughout the process, we’ve discussed what a local foods system could do to not only improve place, but health and wellness or what a revitalized, welcoming downtown would include,” Couch said. “We also discussed what Seymour would look like if we had a cultural art center or expanded what is available.

“The opportunities for placemaking, creating a quality place, to improve the quality of life are strong,” she added.

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, sponsored by the state Office of Community and Rural Affairs, Purdue University and Ball State University.

Along with HCI, another local group, Vision 2025, is continuing its work of making a difference in the community during the next decade.

Vision 2025 is made up of young professionals and is focusing on enhancing the culture and appearance of Seymour, expanding education and economic opportunity, revitalizing the downtown, strengthening and sustaining community resources and communication and promoting health.

The group is currently scheduling opportunities to speak to local civic groups, nonprofit boards and other organizations. Anyone interested in hearing more about Vision 2025 or getting involved in the group should contact Dr. Nate Otte at

At a glance

To get involved with the Seymour Hometown Collaboration Initiative or Vision 2025, call Jackson County United Way at 812-522-5450 or visit

Author photo
January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at or 812-523-7069.