>LaPORTE — She grew up doing carpentry work in some of the buildings and historic homes in LaPorte's downtown.
Now, Angela Rose is trying to build on the economic gains her predecessor as the city's downtown coordinator helped bring to the area.
She replaced Thaddeus Cutler, who stepped aside in late summer after five years in the position.
Rose returned from Oklahoma to realize a childhood goal of being involved in municipal planning in her hometown.
'It's been a dream of mine since I was in grade school,' she said.
Rose graduated from Ball State University with both a bachelor's degree in urban development and planning and a master's degree in historic preservation.
She said her career path was influenced by the history and architectural character of some of the renovation jobs her professional carpenter father, Paul, took her on while she was growing up.
She became skilled enough to make all of the furniture in her home after her military husband, Stephen, was first deployed. He's currently serving in Afghanistan.
Rose said one of her first objectives is reaching out to local merchants to help meet their needs and gather ideas for generating more activity downtown. Her vision includes additional new businesses and more upper level residents downtown.
Rose said she also looks forward to administering urban enterprise zone grants covering 80 percent of building facade improvement costs. The facades on about 20 downtown structures have been given a fresh look since the program's inception three years ago.
Rose believes the financial incentive has much to do with downtown becoming more visitor friendly, and for some of the empty storefronts filling up.
'You can tell when you drive through downtown it looks a lot nicer than it previously did. I'm just excited to continue that,' Rose said.
Bert Cook, executive director of the Greater LaPorte Economic Development Corp., said Rose's background should aid her in getting up to speed with what's helped bring positive change to the downtown, and to continue the momentum.
'It helps she grew up here," Cook said. "She's very familiar with LaPorte both geographically and the historical nature of the community."