Elkhart County, Indiana—once a national example of disinvestment and economic struggle—has again been recognized for its outstanding commitment to planning. Earlier this month, the community’s innovation and dedication were recognized by the Indiana Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA-IN) when Vibrant Communities: The Next Chapter was awarded a 2023 Hoosier Planning Award for Outstanding Outreach and Communication.
In 2016, Elkhart County engaged Planning NEXT in a planning process to create an action agenda focused on improving quality of place in the County. In the five years following, the County implemented many of the actions found in the Vibrant Communities agenda, resulting in a desire to figure out “what’s next?”.
The Next Chapter process was the answer to that question. This second phase of work built upon the foundation of Vibrant Communities, a process to create an action agenda focused on improving quality of place. Through a deliberately designed process, the team was able to inspire the community, which had already felt the impact of their involvement with the original Vibrant Communities, to focus on implementation to continue to transform quality of place in the county over the next five years.
The APA-IN award honors Vibrant Communities: The Next Chapter for using information and education about the value of planning to create greater awareness among citizens or specific segments of the public. The award celebrates how planning improves a community’s quality of life, which was seen amongst the members of Elkhart County as a result of The Next Chapter!
Learn more about this effort here.