FHLBI Director Karen Gregerson at Mentoring Communities

Second Mentoring Communities Event Raises the Bar in Frankfort, Indiana

On May 31, business and community leaders from the Frankfort, Indiana, area met to discuss ways to make their community more attractive to current residents while appealing to new residents and businesses as well. FHLBI's second Mentoring Communities event built on the success of the first one, held last fall in Martinsville, Indiana, by giving attendees time to develop an action plan based upon what they know about their town's needs and what they heard from the day’s mentors.

Mentoring Communities is a day-long event that helps leaders in smaller communities by bringing in experts from other cities in the state that have seen development successes to serve as mentors. In addition to many area businesses, representatives attended the event from the United Way, Purdue Extension Office, Community Schools of Frankfort, Clinton County offices, and City of Frankfort offices.

John Franklin Hay, NEAR Executive Director, speaks at Mentoring CommunitiesThe first of those mentors, John Franklin Hay (right), Executive Director of NEAR (Near East Area Renewal) in Indianapolis, shared how all housing and community development in Indianapolis’ near eastside flows from the priorities established by what NEAR calls a neighborhood’s “Quality of Life Plan.”

“It’s not just about housing,” Hay said. “It all begins with who is involved. We plan with and for the neighbors and stakeholders. They are the primary assets of any neighborhood.”

Other speakers, including FHLBI Affordable Housing Advisory Council member Stephanie TenBarge, Executive Director of Echo Housing, Inc., in Evansville, spoke on: land banking, community resources and initiatives, encouraging college graduates to stay and contribute, both work force and market rate housing developments, placemaking, and community engagement.

Frankfort Mayor Chris McBarnes shares his thoughts for community development in the city at a roundtable discussion.At the end of the day, following roundtable brainstorming sessions on topics like community engagement, blight elimination, community resources, and place making, groups made presentations on ideas that bubbled up. Frankfort Mayor Chris McBarnes (right), who joined FHLBI Board Member Karen Gregerson, President and CEO of The Farmers Bank, in organizing the event, challenged attendees to take the next step.

The Farmers Bank"I encourage you to take one of these ideas you've just been talking about back to your board and take responsibility for developing that idea," McBarnes said. "Stay in communication with each other, share who's taking responsibility for what. We have a lot of great ideas and resources to work with."

MaryBeth Wott, Community Investment Officer, said FHLBI plans to expand the Mentoring Communities program in the future, offering area-specific knowledge and guidance to other communities in Michigan and Indiana.

See a local news report on the event.