ELKHART -- When Mary Kaczka came to Elkhart Downtown Inc., the organization was in its infancy.
Its creators hoped that as director, Kaczka would get EDI on its feet. Instead, they say she'll leave it ready to run.
The search is on for a new, full-time director.
EDI formed in 2005, intent on being the go-to downtown group. Its creators want the not-for-profit organization to become the key business recruiter, marketer and voice of the city's core.
Starting an organization from scratch is a tall order, said EDI board member Dan Boecher.
"I'm pleased with the first year of EDI," he said. "We're in a much stronger, more aggressive place. We're geared toward some tremendous things in the future."
The board hired Kaczka on a contractual basis in January. She came to Elkhart with 25 years of experience in economic development, including work in East Chicago and Michigan City.
"Now we're ready for a local person or a person willing to live in Elkhart," said EDI President Craig Fulmer.
Working 30 hours a week, Kaczka commutes from Valparaiso. She's committed to staying on through the transition period.
EDI needs to push business recruitment, marketing and downtown's transition into a thriving arts and entertainment district, Kaczka said of the new director's charge.
During her time, Kaczka coordinated events like the "Living it Up" tour that opened renovated second- and third-floor apartments in downtown for residents to see.
She is the liaison among the city, contractor and downtown business owners while Streetscape continues.
The Streetcape project, revamping the 100 and 200 blocks of South Main Street, has kept portions of downtown closed since spring. It ends in November.
Fulmer says Kaczka's done everything asked of her.
"She did a good job of getting us where we need to be," he said.
Kaczka helped form the Downtown Elkhart Consortium, made up of key players in downtown revitalization, including Downtown Elkhart Business Association, the city's Redevelopment Commission and Elkhart Centre. The group met first in September and will continue on a monthly basis.
"There is a lot going on and we need to make sure we're all in the same boat, rowing together," Kaczka said.
Boecher is advertising the full-time director opening primarily in the local market.
"We're looking for a lot of different things in the skill set of our new director," her said. "Among those are local ties and a vested interest in the community."
Fulmer says he'd like to see a new director in place by the first of the year. The job description can be seen online at www.downtownelkhart.org/director.