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7/10/2018 5:43:00 PM
'The Next Muncie' initiative aimed at boosting city

Keith Roysdon, Star Press City/County Issues reporter

MUNCIE — A group of community leaders has formed a team to launch a long-term redevelopment and revitalization effort for the city of Muncie.

Next Muncie is the effort announced Tuesday afternoon by the Central City Leadership Team, "representing the private, public and philanthropic sectors of Muncie."

"Economic conditions in Muncie didn't get where they were overnight, and change won't come overnight," Next Muncie co-chairman Geoffrey S. Mearns, president of Ball State University, told The Star Press Tuesday afternoon. "This needs to be a long-term, sustained effort and it will require hard work and investment."

Other members of the leadership team include Mayor Dennis Tyler; Jeffrey Bird, president of IU Health East Central Region and Next Muncie co-chairman; Susan Carlock, vice president of business development and corporate relations for Mursix Corporation; Jud Fisher, president and chief operating officer of Ball Brothers Foundation; Mark Hardwick, executive vice president, chief operating officer and chief financial officer of First Merchants Corporation; Jay Julian, president/CEO and chief economic development officer of the Muncie-Delaware County Chamber of Commerce; Jeffrey Scott, chancellor of Ivy Tech Community College Muncie Campus; Kelly K. Shrock, president of the Community Foundation of Muncie and Delaware County, and Vicki Veach, executive director of Muncie Downtown Development Partnership

Fisher said the Next Muncie initiative isn't just about economic development, a task handled by the chamber and Muncie and Delaware County officials. 

"It can be extremely transformative," Fisher said. "It's not just economic development. The chamber has that expertise. It's not like what the city or the commissioners are doing. (With Next Muncie,) the people on the ground can get a magnified voice. Everyone can see that leadership team and say, 'I know that person.'"

A good example of a project that could benefit from that consistent voice is Tyler's plan for a new riverfront district downtown along White River. Fisher said the team heard from officials from Waterloo, Iowa, about that city's 20-year redevelopment effort.

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