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What is Stellar Communities?
- The Stellar Communities program is a multi-agency partnership designed to fund comprehensive community development projects in Indiana’s smaller communities. The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, and Indiana Department of Transportation are participating in this innovative program.
- The Indiana Stellar Communities Designation Program, launched in 2011 is a multi-agency collaboration led by the Office of the Lieutenant Governor with administration provided by the Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA), Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) and Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA) the lead entities in the Stellar Communities partnership currently consisting of nine state agencies. (in.gov/ocra)
- Stellar Communities has been recognized nationally as a premier community development program when it received the 2012 President’s Award for Innovation from the Council of State Community Development Agencies (COSCDA).
What is the ‘Stellar Grant’?
- There is no specific funding that is named ‘Stellar Grant’
- What is commonly referred to as the “Stellar Grant” is actually a proposal and process that the City of Wabash submitted as part of the Stellar Communities Program. After a number of public outreach sessions (through the development of the 2013 Economic Development Plan) City of Wabash was successfully awarded the “Stellar Community” designation on our second try (following an unsuccessful 2013 effort). Our strategic investment plan the community submitted identified 9 projects that leaders from across the community identified as priority ‘Quality of Place’ and ‘Economic Development’ projects. Our plan identified approximately $29 million worth of projects and identified gaps in funding in the amount of approximately$12.7 million dollars from the state partner agencies to help with funding these specific projects.
- The Stellar Communities are designated and then engage the state agencies to gain access to funds of varying types including grants, loans and tax credits
Wabash ‘won’ Stellar. What does that mean?
- The City of Wabash was ‘designated’ a Stellar Community in August 2014.
- No specific funds are guaranteed but a partnership is created between the City of Wabash and the state agencies
- We were selected because the state partner agencies found that the community could be successful in implementing many of the projects in the four year time frame and had commitments from local partners to ensure our success
Is Wabash guaranteed funds and grants?
- No specific funds are guaranteed
- The City of Wabash will work with representatives from the state agencies to discuss details of proposed projects including feasibility, available funding, timeframes and partner participation.
The City created the ‘Stellar Plan’. Why are all of the projects not being built?
- The City of Wabash created a Strategic Investment Plan (SIP). This plan outlined many projects that were important to the City and were desired to be completed in the near future. The Strategic Investment Plan (SIP) did not only focus on projects that would benefit from the Stellar Designation. Projects were outlined that would utilize private or undetermined funds.
What is/was the benefit of being designated a Stellar Community?
- The process of identifying short and long term projects and engaging the public has proven to be a positive benefit of participating in the Stellar Communities Program
- Being designated a Stellar Community provides access to funds from the agency partners
- OCRA CDBG funds are typically only awarded at a maximum of $500,000 versus for Wabash Stellar, CDBG is potentially available at $1,500,000
- The tax credit applications were scored with a ‘Stellar Set Aside’ which allowed Rock City Lofts to score high enough to be awarded tax credits through the Rental Housing Tax Credit (RHTC) program.
- We have received additional technical support as we have worked through the projects that our Stellar designation gives us priority for.
Why would other projects be included in the SIP?
- The SIP’s purpose was to be Strategic and identify projects and all potential funding sources, many of which are not partners of the Stellar Communities Program but are necessary funding resources for the identified projects
- The SIP listed project ideas that were comprehensively important to the city
How were the projects within the Strategic Investment Plan (SIP) determined?
- The projects were compiled from previous planning efforts
- 2013 Economic Development Plan which identified projects from each area of the city
- City of Wabash Park and Recreation Master Plan, 2010-2014 (park and recreation improvements and projects)
- City of Wabash Trail System Master Plan & Feasibility Study, 2005 (trail and connectivity improvements and projects)
- Wabash Marketplace, Inc. Public Art Master Plan, 2013 (public art, gateways, streetscape amenities)
- ADA Transition Plan, 2012 (pedestrian and sidewalk improvements and projects)
- Capital Improvements Plan, 2006-2012 (infrastructure projects)
- Steering Committee meeting sessions/discussions to brain storm new projects as well as evaluate previously recommended projects
- Strategic meeting sessions/discussion for Strategic Investment Plan 2013
I have a project idea. Can my project receive Stellar money?
- Only projects within the Strategic Investment Plan (SIP) 2014 are among projects that will be potentially funded through Stellar agency partners
Why are some projects from the SIP ‘Stellar funded’, ‘locally funded’, or ‘on hold’?
- Within discussions between City of Wabash and State agencies, projects were discussed regarding feasibility, funding availability, eligible activities, local leverage, and partner participation
- Projects on-hold are projects that are not currently funded through stellar or local and are likely projects that will start later within the 4-year Stellar period
Why are only some projects from the SIP funded through Stellar?
- Some projects are appropriate for funding sources
- Not enough funding is available to complete all projects
- Not all projects could be done within a 4 year project window
- Not all projects are appropriate to do at the same time
What about the projects from the SIP that are not Stellar funded or locally funded?
- Some projects were deemed appropriate for stellar funding
- Some projects were deemed appropriate for local funding
- Some projects have been put on hold until other funding is available
Why are some projects being delayed?
- Sometimes it is just the nature of working through programs that utilize federal funding that those projects have various requirements that are sometimes cumbersome to work through. The City of Wabash is still committed to completing as many of the projects as we reasonably can within the four year window of the Stellar Communities project and will continue to work on others as appropriate.
Why are all of the projects downtown and not spread throughout the city?
- One of the requirements and purposes of the Stellar Program is to make a lasting and visible impact in a community for projects that support quality of place. The Stellar Team who worked on developing the projects felt that the most visual impact in a small area would be in the historical shopping/gathering/cultural center of the city so they focused projects within the downtown area. The projects that were identified were also often the next step or a second phase to a previous project that had demonstrated success, positive economic impacts, and were a step toward achieving the overall community vision.
What has happened so far? I haven’t seen anything being built, etc.?
- As of June 2015, we are only 6 months into a 48 month project. In that timeframe however, a lot has already been done. In fact, we’ve been told by a number of our partners who have worked in other Stellar Communities that we are farther along than many of them were at the same time. We are about to start the design of the 13/15 corridor project, have started the final design of the Rock City Lofts Project, have already completed 6 façade renovations in downtown, have started design and are about to begin fundraising efforts on the All Inclusive Park project, and have made many other headways on other projects. In the summer of 2016, more tangible “bricks and mortar” evidence will be visible in downtown as we see the Rock City Lofts project start to take shape, but rest assured work is underway!
If I have questions about Stellar Projects who should I talk to?
- The Primary Stellar Contact Team includes Mayor Scott Long (260-563-4171, firstname.lastname@example.org), Keith Gillenwater (260 563-5258, email@example.com) and Rachel Uthe (317-547-5580, firstname.lastname@example.org)
- For additional contacts, see the PROJECT TEAM
- Other people have been involved throughout the process but only a few people are still leading projects (see ABOUT US – Steering Committee list for the general steering committee list)
- If you have specific questions about specific projects please direct them to the Primary Stellar Contact Team and that team will direct your question to the right person(s).
How can I stay informed about Stellar?
- Project website city http://wabashstellar.cityofwabash.com/
- Active facebook and twitter
- Regular press releases or more frequently as necessary