There is still work to do, but progress has been made. This was the conclusion of a celebration anniversary event held for The Remington Wolcott Community Development Corporation February 20. In 2006 Tri-County School Corporation officials commissioned a study by Purdue University which determined the communities of Remington and Wolcott needed to proactively seek business and residential growth in order to avoid school consolidation. This eventually led to the formation of RWCDC, a nonprofit community development organization. The evening brought together community members, current and former RWCDC board members, and collaborating organizations. Discussion about RWCDC?s progress and pitfalls was generated.
Recent addition to the Wolcott Town Board and the RWCDC board, Tina Orns, said she was glad to learn more about the organization.
"I think more people need to know about the work of RWCDC, I didn?t realize everything the organization has accomplished."
Sara DeYoung, the executive director for RWCDC, highlighted a few of its achievements which included a marketing plan, establishing funding, creating an annual fundraising event, forming the Main Street organizations, creating a staff position, assisting with the town revitalization plans, creating marketing videos, and purchasing and leasing a medical office. She noted that community development is like an iceberg.
"People only see the tip of the iceberg, the ribbon cutting. They don?t realize all the hours it took to research a grant, the hundreds of phone calls to gather information, or all the meetings with stakeholders that occurred in order to get to that ribbon cutting."
DeYoung asked attendees if RWCDC was still necessary and if it was making progress.
"I think that that is the question no one wants to ask, but that should be asked at this point. Many entities are just going through the motions without stepping back and asking what their motivations are and if they?re really accomplishing anything," she said.
Wolcott Town Board President, Mike Yelton, said the nonprofit had made many contributions and is still necessary.
"If it weren?t for the work of RWCDC, the studies by Purdue, and the information gathered, Wolcott as a town would not have known how to move forward. Is there still work to do? Yes, housing is still an issue and we?re working on that, but it?s important to recognize the progress we?ve made."
Susan Overholser, Director of Operations for Purdue North Central Nursing Clinics, said as an outside organization, seeing a nonprofit like RWCDC in the area was a major benefit.
"It said the community cared." She added that Purdue NCNC examined the town with a more critical eye when evaluating whether to open the health clinic in Wolcott.
"We looked at the sidewalks, we looked at the town itself, to see if it would be a good fit, and were very impressed."
Dr. Gib Crimmins, the former Tri-County School Corporation superintendent and a former RWCDC board member, noted the progress of RWCDC but also the major task it still needs to accomplish.
"Tri-County is still facing declining enrollment but had it not been for RWCDC and the work of the towns, I think the decline would have occurred at a more rapid pace."
DeYoung said the work of RWCDC is progressive but in order to continue to improve the communities and accomplish some of the original goals of the organization, changes need to be made.
"I want to make this organization more visible and transparent and increase collaboration between groups. We can be more efficient if we work on projects that are mutually beneficial. I also want to encourage more discussion and exchanges between different groups and engage with the community in a variety of ways."
She added that more information would be in RWCDC?s upcoming newsletter.
To sign-up for the newsletter go to www.smalltownoasis.org or contact Sara DeYoung at 219-863-0703 firstname.lastname@example.org. The Remington Wolcott Community Development Corporation meets the second Tuesday of the month at 5:30 pm at the Tri-County School Corporation building, 105 N Second St. Wolcott.