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SOUTH WHITLEY â South Whitley is planning on making a plan.
What started as rumblings by several residents earlier in the summer is shaping up to become what some hope is a road map to making the Southwestern Whitley County town a true success story.
âThis summer I met with leaders from the town of South Whitley in my capacity as the community development person from the EDC (Whitley County Economic Development Corporation,â said Lori Shipman, one of the countyâs foremost experts on grant writing and economic development.
âThey were putting together an action plan, and were kind of like âletâs brainstorm on what needs to be tackled,ââ Shipman said.
The ultimate goal â a comprehensive plan for the town of South Whitley.
According to Shipman and Dave Sewell of the Columbia City/Whitley County Joint Planning and Building Department, among those spearheading the efforts are Town Council President Tony Starkey and Mike Krause of the South Whitley Plan Commission.
Starkey was unavailable for comment Friday.
Krause addressed the townâs plan commission July 23, raising issues on everything from the lack of a grocery in the town to ways of improving the townâs signage.
Krause told the commission that South Whitley âhas a leakage of retail establishments.â
In the past year, South Whitley lost the services of Heyerlyâs Meat Market, which closed, and the Kent Theater, which succumbed to fire.
Krause told the plan commission that South Whitley would have to tackle its future by marketing the town like Branson, Mo. For Branson, the key to success came in the form of theaters and entertainment.
âWe basically have to reinvent South Whitleyâs image, so everyone who goes through South Whitley sees that image,â Krause said, according to the plan commissionâs minutes.
Shipman said town leaders will work with experts in community development around the county and that assistance in the form of grants from the state are possible. âI think there is some interest there from the leadership of the town,â Shipman said.
âThey as a town are really on par with other towns in the county like Churubusco and even Larwill in saying âletâs get a plan together.â
âThey have a lot of energy in South Whitley.â
Sewell said the town is headed in the right direction.
âWeâve been discussing this over the past several months,â Sewell said.
âFrom the proverbial necessity of revitalizing the downtown, this has led to the discussion of a comprehensive plan.â