The Indiana Chamber of Commerce selected Greater Lafayette as the winner of its 2021 Community of the Year Award.
The annual honor recognizes a deserving Hoosier community that makes significant contributions to its local business climate and overall image during the past year. The 2021 award differed slightly from previous years in that it looked for “one shining locale” that was “exceptional” in weathering the pandemic.
Greater Lafayette was that one shining locale.
Truth be told, it wasn’t just Greater Lafayette’s resiliency and coming together during the pandemic that made this award possible. Granted, more than $1 million in forgivable loans and grants was distributed to 95 local small businesses to withstand the pandemic-related downturn in business.
But, as city leadership will readily attest, this award is the culmination of nearly two decades of unique cross-city collaboration, public-private partnerships, economic forecasting, and big investments in quality-of-life initiatives
Some Award-Winning Numbers
The groundwork for winning the “2021 Community of the Year Award” actually began in the early 2000s, when the Greater Lafayette Vision 2020 was created. This development plan formed Greater Lafayette Commerce, an organization which pulled together six local community development organizations to collaborate and streamline work for greater impact.
Together with the governments of Lafayette, West Lafayette, Tippecanoe County, and Purdue University and Ivy Tech Community College, Greater Lafayette Commerce set about a long-term plan to make Greater Lafayette an even more enjoyable and prosperous place to live. This was set forth in its Greater Lafayette Good to Great Plan launched in 2011.
The strategy was straightforward; its execution, far more complex. In essence, invest heavily in quality-of-life projects that benefit everybody but also serve to retain and attract talent vital to key industries in the area.
Major investments were made to the Greater Lafayette’s parks and recreation system, local school corporations, infrastructure, and streetscapes. Altogether, those investments aided the development of the Discover Park District and the Aersopace District Research Park while attracting new companies like GE Aviation, SAAB, and Rolls-Royce to the region, further solidifying Greater Lafayette’s position as a hotbed for cutting-edge tech, R&D, and advanced manufacturing. An estimated 3,800 new jobs were created over the past five years; 10,500 more were retained.
Meanwhile, a bustle of new construction has given a new look to Lafayette’s and West
Lafayette’s downtown centers. Mixed retail-residential developments like the HUB, RISE, MARQ, LUNA, NOVA, the Ellsworth, the Press, and Pullman Station are welcoming population growth while providing abundant opportunities for retail, restaurants, and other small business owners. Every day it seems there’s something new and exciting on the horizon, literally.
Even though this 2021 Community of the Year Award is a culmination of years of hard work and collaboration, that doesn’t mean it’s an end. Rather, it’s another beginning–the beginning of a new chapter of GREATER.
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