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1/3/2018 3:06:00 PM
Social media project aims to polish Terre Haute's and Vigo County's image

Sue Loughlin, Tribune-Star

Vigo County has many assets, and the goal of the new and improved is to showcase the community’s strengths to residents, college students and prospective businesses, representatives of The Haute Initiative announced Tuesday.

“We have a lot to be proud of in this community,” said Mark Gibson, president of The Haute Initiative, an Indiana-based 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization. He described it as a grass roots initiative supported by business, government, education and economic development entities.

The Haute Initiative is a two-part, community-enhancement/economic development project designed to unite local groups to promote and grow Terre Haute and Vigo County.

The project’s long-term goal is to attract business, industry and others to the community by providing an online presence and video content “designed to present our community as a vibrant, dynamic place in which to live, work and play,” according to a news release.

It will have information about things to do, community services, business, government, schools, sports, restaurants and lodging. It also has links to the city, county, Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce, Terre Haute Economic Development Corp. and Terre Haute Convention and Visitors Bureau. is described as a one-stop site for community information in Terre Haute and Vigo County.

Gibson hopes the initiative will help overcome any perception problems the community may have. “We have an outdated reputation that is not jiving with what I’m experiencing here,” Gibson said. “We need to shed our inferiority complex.”

Gibson pointed to the community’s many assets that include its museums, arts offerings and recreational opportunities. The goal of The Haute Initiative is to “showcase the great things happening here.”

In a video, Mayor Duke Bennett — who could not attend the announcement — said the city supports the effort. “One of the things we need to do more of is to celebrate and talk about the positives of our community,” he said.

Steve Witt, president of the Terre Haute EDC, described the The Haute Initiative and improved as a “tremendous economic development tool.”

When business or industry is looking for a community to locate, the final decision is often about quality of life, Witt said.

“Our quality of life here is probably our best kept secret,” Witt said. He noted that executives who move here often decide to retire here because they like what the community has to offer.

Gibson’s company, Envisionary Media, is producing the updated website and a video series that spotlights community strengths; it’s an upgrade of an already existing, which is owned by the Terre Haute Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Gibson describes the project as a grass roots coalition, with several local entities supporting the project, including the city, Terre Haute CVB, Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce, Terre Haute EDC, Indiana State University, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, Terre Haute Savings Bank, Thompson Thrift and Vigo County Public Library.

The first-year budget is $138,000, and much of the funding will go for marketing. The Haute Initiative has raised about 40 percent of its budget and continues to look for partners and financial support, Gibson said.

There is a cap of $26,000 on how much any one entity can donate, Gibson said. “We want to make sure it is a unified front” made up of several organizations, he said.

Envisionary Media has been working on the project for about eight months.

Also speaking at the event was Dave Patterson, executive director of the Terre Haute Convention and Visitors Bureau. “This is our look. This is the look of our community,” he said of the revamped website.

Patterson attributed the revised website in part to the efforts of Gibson and Karrum Nasser, president of the Terre Haute City Council, who also is a member of the Convention and Visitors Bureau board. Gibson provides the creative talent, while Nasser “saw the need to branch this to a lot of different players that maybe hadn’t been involved in the past.”

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• COMMENTARY: New Haute Initiative aims to show how the towns strengths to the world

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