Tara Barney, President & CEO, Southwest Indiana Chamber
MUCH HAS CHANGED
“I can’t believe how much has changed”, is a comment often heard when visiting with folks in the community from all over our region and beyond. When out-of-towners gather at the Ford Center for the Ohio Valley Conference Championships; golf pros and fans descend on Warrick County’s own Victoria National for the United Leasing Golf Championship; or when former residents return for class reunions, corporate professionals come into the region on business, or family and friends visit downtown Mt. Vernon, downtown Evansville, New Harmony or the growing Gibson County area…it’s a common reaction.
Until I moved to Southwest Indiana weeks ago, it had been a decade since I had visited the area. What a remarkable transformation!
I see evident signs of prosperity throughout our region—and it is hard to miss the sense of opportunity, even expectation of additional success in the mindset of our businesses and residents. “A rising tide lifts all boats” and here, on the often-rising Ohio River, we seem to be taking control of our own destiny.
Our community prospers as our businesses prosper. Nowhere is this emerging prosperity more evident than in our commercial centers. Our historic business and civic districts – Downtown Evansville, Downtown Mt. Vernon, North Main, Haynie’s Corner and others – are our Front Porch. They are the first impressions for our visitors and key to our shared imperative to attract and retain talent, particularly millennial talent. Each matters; regions grow around strong centers, and these are ours to value and support.
But Southwest Indiana’s location makes it our great good fortune to also host dozens of thriving commercial centers that anchor and support the retail and service needs of our residents and businesses while drawing the spending power of a much greater Tri-state region. Travel North Green River and Burkhardt roads on the east side, or the Lloyd Expressway between Mt. Vernon and Evansville, or experience the growth on the north side between Evansville and Princeton, and you can’t help but recognize the horsepower that we enjoy. It is evident in the retail energy as well as the concentration of residential areas, business and industry.
Our community’s transformation is the work of many. The real key is us; you and me. We get to choose where we spend our dollars, how and where we entertain our families and how we each contribute to a prosperous regional economy, one that offers us and our guests great choices. Sure, we have much more to do, but every step we take toward a more resilient local economy ensures a better future for our region.
I hope you will support all the commercial centers that knit Southwest Indiana together. Join me in exploring our many choices. If you haven’t been to our downtowns lately, plan an afternoon out. Give a new festival or entertainment venue a try. What the heck, it’s spring—time for an adventure!