Honored for creativity in a quest for economic development.
The leaders of NewAllen Alliance are celebrating a national honor.
“This award is really a great shot in the arm to just demonstrate that our communities are working together collaboratively and that we are in a great place to receive funding," Kent Castleman says.
He is the president of NewAllen Alliance.
Seven small towns in the eastern half of Allen County make up the community and economic development group.
It is now one of a handful in the country to receive an Outstanding Planning Initiative award from the American Planning Association.
The honor recognizes small and rural towns for their programs to generate economic development -- and specifically cited NewAllen's approach to a regional plan that maintains the unique identities of its individual communities.
"With the collaborative effort of the small communities, we bounce ideas off of everybody and come up with solutions that work in our communities with our tight budgets. We don't try to compete with Fort Wayne or other large cities like that, we just try to do what's best for our community," says Woodburn Mayor Joe Kelsey.
"It is tough for them to compete but they have woken up a few people in this community and people are paying attention. So don't be surprised if you see every one of these projects funded in the foreseeable future," Allen County Commissioner Nelson Peters says.
Each of the communities wants to revitalize downtowns, improve their quality of life, and attract jobs.
"Under the NewAllen Alliance to bring their ideas together and actually to bring them to fruition, and then really start getting boots on the ground to make it happen for them," says Allen County Commissioner Therese Brown.
"We wanted to make sure as NewAllen that we positioned our communities to be considered for the next round of funding, whatever that may look like, and have a plan put together," Castleman adds.
"They put these plans on the drawing board. They've not all been completed. But now at least they've got something to talk about, and now they've got something to take to the funders and see if they can't get some funding for these particular projects," Peters says.
The award will be presented to the NewAllen Alliance in New York City in May.