"I'm a former Army Ranger, a proud product of Vigo County Schools, and a lifelong Hautean. Our city faces real challenges over the coming years, but together we can ensure our city's best days are still ahead. I believe in Terre Haute, and it is time to unlock its full potential so our future is bright."
LIST OF ISSUES
ECONOMY: CREATE A CULTURE OF GROWTH
2025 Vision: Terre Haute sets the standard for growth amongst mid-size Midwest cities, attracting and retaining workers and their families, creating a city that enables entrepreneurs, and begins to attract venture and investment funding.
The City of Terre Haute’s population has fallen under 59,000 for just the second time since 1910. Since 2010, the Terre Haute population has decreased by almost 4% and the average age of its population has increased to 32. From 2017 to 2021, the median household income in 2021 dollars was $38,750. According to recently released U.S. Census figures, Terre Haute, known as the Queen City of the Wabash, demonstrated higher levels of poverty, lower marriage rates, lower incomes, older housing, and lower rental payments compared to the average resident of Indiana. From 2016 to 2020, approximately 25.3% of Terre Haute residents lived below the federal poverty level. Of particular concern is the percentage of children living in poverty in Terre Haute. Within the 2016 to 2020 period, 33.1% of children under the age of 18 in Terre Haute were in poverty, while the state average for Indiana was 17.6%.
Our citizens are hurting. Terre Haute needs to write a new chapter, together we can create a culture of economic growth. To revamp our local economy we need to open our doors to investments, by highlighting our airport and access to interstate travel, and investing in our people. Home to four institutions of higher learning and a large school corporation, jobs and retaining our talented students go hand in hand. To move Terre Haute forward, we must shift our focus on bringing in new jobs and industries, building off our successful employers, investing in public assets, and creating a safe and vibrant community that is desirable to current and future residents.
Attracting and Retaining Talent:
Historically, success in Terre Haute was defined by leaving. We need to retain our talented graduates at all education levels. Terre Haute has many educational opportunities in secondary and higher education, with three high schools and four universities. Additionally, in the Vigo County School Corporation, there are workforce development programs that can help bridge the transition from secondary to higher education or provide job-based training for employment. We need Terre Haute to be a city where our youth want to build a future and have opportunities to pursue careers. It should not matter if you have a GED or a PHD, there will be an opportunity for you to earn a liveable wage and raise a family in our city.
For high school graduates and those with a GED, we want you to know that there is an opportunity to live and succeed here. I will prioritize working with regional employers, university partners, the school corporation, and upskill programs to provide workforce development programs for all of our citizens.
Placemaking is a tool we can use to attract and retain talent. A clean city that promotes healthy lifestyles and offers mobility for all residents will set us apart from neighboring communities. Public transportation and access to the interstate will connect our residents to our vibrant community and attract new families looking for opportunities.
Facilitate talent pipelines and upskilling programs between our universities, technical schools, high schools, and local industries. Terre Haute's talented; you can and should stay right here.
Use City projects, a rejuvenated look at zoning, and develop partnerships to promote and incentivize urban designs that benefit the community and economy. Areas to target immediately are North Terre Haute’s Industrial Park, Terre Haute Airport, Downtown, and the Wabash River.
Create an economic growth plan for North, South, Central, and East Terre Haute. Every district and neighborhood should have access to employment and city services.
Support our small business community with relationships and business developments. This includes training opportunities through the Indiana Small Business Development Commission, Scott College School of Business, Black Business Alliance, and Chamber of Commerce.
Support minority and women-owned businesses to diversify access to the growing local economy in Terre Haute
Support the Terre Haute Human Relations Commission as a core City institution to fight discrimination and ensure equal employment opportunity, fair housing, public accommodations, and education for all individuals, regardless of ethnic group, sex, sexual orientation or gender identity, nationality, or disability.
Supporting Local Businesses and Organized Labor
Small businesses continue to reinforce the lifeblood of our community. Whether it is family-owned restaurants or sports stores, our small business community needs support from the city to expand and grow. With investments in the hospitality and tourism industry, more and more visitors will cross through our city. We need to ensure that our locally owned banks, businesses, restaurants, and museums are supported during these increases.
The working community of Terre Haute needs assurance that our city will follow labor laws, and contract regulations, and properly utilize tax abatements to ensure that our neighbors and local workforce are treated fairly. Our community benefits from a strong organized labor workforce. Through recruitment programs, retention programs, and providing work opportunities, the city of Terre Haute must stand with our workers.
Connect small businesses with the Indiana Small Business Development Center and work through the Chamber of Commerce to support new business owners with workforce training opportunities and management coaching. New business owners will receive the tools required to break through in the local economy.
Incentivize neighborhood development for small businesses looking to expand their locations in food deserts, neighborhoods without access to essential services, and targeted areas in each city council district. Utilize tax policies to create a welcoming environment for businesses willing to address our city’s fight against poverty and public health.
Pass an enforceable Responsible Bidding Ordinance with a codified enforcement code and ensures our local laborers are included in community projects.
Target grants for revitalizing small businesses in North Terre Haute, Downtown, and Riverfront Investments. The focus will be on filling retail and commercial properties on the first two floors of multi-floor buildings. A partnership with Riverscape will be redefined with a target of five years to break ground on five different properties along the Wabash.
Maintain a level playing field by making sure that labor laws, proper worker classifications, and contractor registrations are followed.
Create a yearly review for all contracts and abatements to ensure that they are properly awarded to businesses that help our community. Contracts should be awarded based on qualifications and price, not personal relationships.
Use state and federal funding to create microloans for up-and-coming businesses throughout the city.
Fostering a Culture of Entrepreneurs and Innovation
After operating in Terre Haute for sixty years, Pfizer Inc. ceased operations at its plant in 2009. Large employers have decreased jobs and several have left our city. While we have seen recent success in the county and Industrial Park as a result of the Terre Haute Economic Development Commission, a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation needs to be created to grow our city’s business industry
The modern workforce has witnessed a recent shift to remote work. Terre Haute can capitalize on this trend by creating co-working facilities and opening its doors to business firms in the technology, engineering, finance, insurance, and accounting industry.
Streamline the business permit process for new small businesses and established firms. It should be an efficient process to safely open your doors to the public.
Create a city partnership with Rose Hulman Ventures for a government-focused innovation hub to modernize our public sector. Create a similar project with Indiana State and SMWC for students studying public affairs, finance, or public policy. We can leverage our talented minds and work with them during their undergraduate years.
Promote innovation and technology investment in the private sector through grant funding.
Lead the way in business modernization platforms like data mining, solar energy farms, and modernization. These industries continue to grow and are looking for opportunities across the United States.
Create an Innovation Park/Hands-on Research Area with Indiana State, Saint Mary of Woods College, and Ivy Tech to support the commercialization of university research. This partnership allows the universities to profit from their work while providing immediate benefits to our community.
Embrace the Energy - A downtown push unseen in decades: Behold the heart of Terre Haute, where the vibrant pulse of a resurgent downtown echoes the heartbeat of our local community. Witness the sparks of success that have ignited our passion, but now, we stand on the edge of a true revival, where downtown's commercial storefronts and residential apartments yearn for a triumphant rebirth. The time is now, and we need to inject high-density projects that set off an explosion of investments, maximizing every precious square foot of this urban canvas.
A Symphony of Events: Picture a kaleidoscope of colors and sounds, a tantalizing tapestry woven through our streets. Embracing the art of Consistent Programming, we'll orchestrate a symphony of vibrant events that enthrall and enrapture. Every season shall play its part in this grand performance, with music shows and outdoor markets held quarterly. Families will be enchanted as they gather in the heart of Terre Haute, frolicking in downtown playgrounds and gliding gracefully on temporary ice rinks. Collaborations with Indiana State University for athletic events and partnerships with the Convention Center will elevate our downtown into a top-tier attraction, captivating residents and tourists alike.
Unleashing Urban Magic: Witness the enchantment unfurl as Retail and Entertainment cast their spell upon the streets. Like alchemists of commerce, we'll strategically place businesses in street-level properties, bewitching passersby with a captivating array of options. Foot traffic will flow like an unstoppable river, reviving downtown storefronts and bringing life to once-forgotten spaces. Through a visionary micro-grant program, property holders will be enticed to transform upstairs spaces into cozy apartments, while ground floors blossom into thriving businesses. Downtown beautification and immaculate curbs will become essential, enchanting all who walk through this beguiling landscape. And as the sun sets, a transformation will occur - downtown businesses will embrace the night, illuminating the city with a nocturnal allure that beckons people to indulge in retail therapy and adventure.
A Nexus of Innovation: Unleash the power of a Business District that Drives Innovation, where creativity and prosperity intertwine. Beyond shopping and dining, downtown will be a cauldron of ideas, brewing a revival of businesses in consulting, accounting, technology, engineering, and entrepreneurship. The Hub and the Station are but the first ripples of a vast wave of progress. With fierce determination, the Terre Haute Economic Development Commission and my office will summon companies, inviting them to call downtown their home, forging a bridge between our universities and our local economy, where knowledge and expertise unite.
A Community Reborn: From student apartments to the embracing arms of young professionals and retirees, we beckon a Residential Renaissance. Picture the cityscape adorned with condos, apartments, and townhomes, nestled around the heart of Terre Haute. A thriving downtown generates foot traffic and kindles a fire of consumer spending, as residents breathe life into the streets, their laughter and footsteps echoing through the alleyways. Vacant lots and decaying houses, once forgotten, will be reborn as prime opportunities for developers to weave their magic, transforming our city into a sanctuary of vibrant living.
Join us as we embark on this odyssey, a glorious journey of renewal and reinvention. Together, we shall breathe life into every corner of downtown, reviving its spirit, and igniting the flame that will guide Terre Haute into a brilliant and prosperous future. For this, my friends, is our destiny – the thrilling resurgence of a city reborn. See You in Terre Haute, where magic meets reality, and dreams become the heartbeat of a vibrant community.
4,800 students will graduate high school or college this spring in Terre Haute. There are half a million Hoosiers aged 18-65 without a college degree. Vigo County is in Region 7 and has 12 Regions in Indiana's Department of Workforce Development. Although our region was at the bottom of the rankings regarding funds utilized for workforce development, we have room to improve.
So this brings the question; how can Terre Haute provide local jobs to people at ALL education levels?
Recruitment for jobs starts much earlier nowadays. Local businesses should be encouraged to begin recruiting graduates from our universities starting freshman and sophomore years. This can include internships, work-based learning opportunities, and mentorship programs.
College isn't for everyone and that is absolutely okay. A modernized local economy provides jobs for ALL educational backgrounds. Apprenticeship programs and job fairs are easy tools for companies to get in front of high school students. Each year Indiana has 80,000 high school graduates......25K plan to get a job straight out of high school. It is on local elected officials, school corporations, and local employers to open doors and opportunities to those students
Benefits, like paid time off for volunteering, education opportunities for employees and spouses, parental leave, and childcare, are tools that should be prioritized by employers. to retain and recruit workers!
ACCESSIBLE AND RESTORED STREETS AND SIDEWALKS
One major area of concern is the state of our streets and sidewalks. Two tools our city engineering department uses to visually show the grades of our streets and sidewalks are Roadway Robotis and GIS. In 2020 our average street rating was 2.74. In 2023 our current rating is 3.07........what does that mean? Higher scores indicate a LOWER street rating. Our streets have severely declined in quality over the last 16 years. Three solutions are pavement preservation, micro surfacing, and "chip and seal" procedures. The Street Department and City Engineering Department 2024 budgets received small increases for construction costs and vehicles but no additional funding went to preventing our streets from declining. This is unsatisfactory. My administration will prioritize fixing our roads and sidewalks.
Two programs we will start on day one are aggressively pursuing the Community Crossing Grant, for crosswalks and sidewalks, and a partnership with the business community for sidewalk repairs. Modeled off Mayor Clint Lamb's approach in Sullivan, business owners, and community groups will have the opportunity to pay to repair the sidewalks in front of their storefront. The City will match 50% and provide the labor for construction. This pro-business approach has been tested and proven across our state.
COMMITMENT TO EDUCATION
A mayor can play a pivotal role in supporting a school corporation and enhancing the overall educational experience for students. I am making a public and honest commitment to supporting our public education system, the homeschooling community, and all students in Terre Haute.
Here are some ways in which a mayor can help a school corporation:
1. Advocacy for Education: The mayor can use their position and influence to advocate for education at the local, state, and federal levels. This includes lobbying for increased funding for schools, better resources, and more favorable education policies.
2. Budget Allocation: As a key decision-maker in the local government, the mayor can work with city council members and the school board to allocate sufficient funds to the school corporation. A well-funded education system can provide better facilities, materials, and support for both students and teachers. It is apparent that our schools need renovations and financial support. To build for the future we must support our children.
3. Community Engagement: The mayor can actively engage with the community to raise awareness about the importance of education and the needs of the school corporation. By building strong community support, the mayor can garner public backing for education initiatives and garner resources from local businesses and organizations.
4. Partnerships and Collaborations: The mayor can facilitate partnerships between the school corporation and local businesses, nonprofits, and community organizations. These collaborations can provide additional resources, mentorship programs, internships, and other opportunities for students.
5. Early Childhood Education: The mayor can advocate for and support early childhood education initiatives. Investing in quality preschool programs can help improve school readiness and academic success for students in the long run.
6. School Safety: Ensuring the safety of students and staff is a critical responsibility of a mayor. They can work with school officials and law enforcement to develop safety protocols and address any safety concerns within schools.
7. Infrastructure Development: The mayor can work to improve the infrastructure of schools, ensuring that they have adequate facilities, classrooms, libraries, and sports facilities. Upgrading and maintaining school buildings can create a better learning environment for students.
8. Education Initiatives: The mayor can champion educational programs and initiatives aimed at improving student outcomes, such as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) programs, arts and cultural programs, and vocational training.
9. Teacher Support: Supporting teachers is essential for a successful school corporation. The mayor can work to offer professional development opportunities and acknowledge outstanding educators through awards and recognition. Some local governments have created scholarship programs for students pursuing education.
Overall, the mayor can use their leadership to prioritize education, collaborate with stakeholders, and ensure that the school corporation receives the necessary support and resources to provide a high-quality education to all students. My administration will lead the West Central Indiana area in terms of committing time and resources to our youth.
ANIMAL SAFETY AND CONTROL
Reducing stray animal populations is a common issue faced by many cities, and
several municipal government policies have been implemented to address this
problem. Here are some policies and programs I am prepared to take on day one:
1. Spay/Neuter Programs: Many cities have implemented low-cost or subsidized
spaying and neutering programs to control the reproduction of stray animals. These
programs offer discounted or free services to pet owners and sometimes even include
targeted efforts to spay/neuter stray animals. We need multiple spay/neuter options
for the public.
2. Quarterly Animal Adoption and Rescue Programs: Establishing or supporting animal
shelters and rescue organizations can provide a safe haven for stray animals,
increasing their chances of finding permanent homes. These programs often
encourage adoption and responsible pet ownership.
3. Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) Programs: TNR programs are particularly effective for managing feral cat populations. Stray cats are trapped, neutered, or spayed, vaccinated, and then returned to their original locations. This helps prevent further reproduction and stabilizes the population.
4. Collaboration with Animal Welfare Organizations: Partnering with local animal welfare groups, nonprofit organizations, and veterinarians can enhance the city's efforts in managing the stray animal population. Additionally, a city and county-wide partnership will help us create a systematic response.
5. Licensing and Registration Requirements: Enforcing current pet licensing and registration can help keep track of owned animals, encourage responsible pet ownership, and deter pet abandonment. This requires the support of our local veterinarians and shelters, and together we can enforce current requirements.
6. Enforcement of Animal Control Laws: Stricter enforcement of animal control laws, such as leash laws and confinement requirements, can discourage pet owners from allowing their animals to roam freely and become strays.