In its quest to bring more jobs to Terre Haute, community leaders look at downtown Terre Haute as a positive role model in improving the community’s image.
New buildings and a new residential facility within the past few years have energized the community and, according to Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett, that energy is a key cog in attracting jobs to Terre Haute.
“Having a downtown that is thriving goes a long way towards them saying ‘you know what, Terre Haute’s kind of on the move’. If you’ve got a dead downtown, they look at it as ‘eh, I don’t know,” Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett told us.
A recent encouraging, job-related sign happened late in 2013, when big box retailer Meijer announced plans to move to the east side of Terre Haute near Wal-Mart.
According to Cliff Lambert, the Executive Director of Redevelopment for the City of Terre Haute, the area has great potential, and the arrival of Meijer could create a positive domino effect.
“There is a restaurant that’s been negotiating with a private developer for land out there. There is an opportunity, perhaps down the road, for some senior-assisted living housing,” Lambert said.
“(Highway) 641, I (Interstate) 70, (State Road) 46 area around the airport. Right now at the airport, we don’t have any space left to rent. It’s all rented. We’ve got some businesses out there. They’re smaller businesses but they’re growing,” Mayor Bennett said.
Another location that Cliff Lambert and Mayor Duke Bennett have been keeping a close eye on is at the intersection of 13th Street and Hulman Street.
The spot has been vacant for more than 25 years but a thorough clean-up effort, which included the removal of contaminated dirt, has been done with the hope of making the land an attractive location for future businesses.
Although community leaders are optimistic about attracting jobs to Terre Haute, those leaders also admit to obstacles to overcome.
“This isn’t unique about Terre Haute but Indiana as a whole. A lot of people can’t pass a drug test. You know, that is a problem. We have got to address that as a society. We’ve got to have the skilled work force. People believe, these businesses that look at Terre Haute think we’ve got great amenities. They’re sold on that low taxes. You know, that’s another good thing. It’s that quality of life piece and can I hire all the employees that I need that will stay with us. That’s the real obstacles we face.” Bennett adds.
“We’ve got to be in there for the long run. So we need to capture those 20s and early 30s, maybe early 40s folks, and pull them into the fold. With these city fathers and these leaders. And say ‘OK, folks. Here’s the baton. Carry on forward’. Because this Terre Haute Tomorrow group, that was founded 10 years ago, this plan should extend out another 10 years. And we’re going to need that leadership, those folks with the desire and the enthusiasm and the energy to continue to carry the torch,” according to Lambert.