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Monday, April 21, 2014

Group reviews 10-year-old Horizon 1.0 plan

The Horizon 1.0 plan was created 10 years ago as a general roadmap for Elkhart County spanning business development, education and tourishm among other areas.

Posted on Jan. 23, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.

GOSHEN — A community-wide plan created 10 years ago is still relevant, but there is room for improvement, according to Elkhart County leaders.

The Horizon 1.0 plan introduced in 2003 got another look Tuesday by county officials who evaluated the project’s goals spanning business creation, tourism, education and land use among others.

Mike Yoder, county commissioner, said a lot has changed in Elkhart County over the past decade, but some of the plan’s goals have not been accomplished. He said a new committee, including a few original Horizon 1.0 planners, will be meeting soon to discuss the future of the community strategy and how to move forward.

“They will be getting together to talk about what comes next,” Yoder said. “Is it time to do another community-wide study? That is one of the questions they will try to answer.”

Redevelopment of downtown areas and urban districts was a big part of Tuesday’s discussion. Barkley Garrett, Elkhart’s economic development manager, said the city has been working hard to reduce blight and control sprawl, but more needs to be done.

“Part of it is funding, and part of it is the process,” Garrett said. “I don’t know how much we can impact the process because state and federal property laws sometimes get in the way of us being able to take a property quickly and easily, and funding is kind of an obvious one. We’ve got plenty of buildings that need to come down and not nearly enough funds to do it.”

The Horizon Education Alliance stemmed from Horizon 1.0 to focus on the county’s school system and getting students ready for jobs and higher education, which Yoder said are goals that continue to be high priorities. Yoder said the education group is generally doing a good job working with children and their families, but some gaps remain between high school graduation and entering the workforce. He said transformation in education will take time, but the community could start seeing changes in just a few years.

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