The PreservINg Main Street Community Development Block Grant program helps rural communities revitalize their downtown areas. The Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) developed the program in a joint effort with Indiana Landmarks and Indiana Humanities. In 2021, ORCA launched a Pilot Program in Kendallville and Brookville, which has since seen several new businesses open, reduced first-floor vacancies, and raised funds for historic preservation projects. New Castle has been selected as the 2023 PreservINg Main Street Grant community recipient.
On Thursday, October 12, Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch, OCRA, Indiana Landmarks, and Indiana Humanities gathered in downtown New Castle to present New Castle Main Street with the PreservINg Main Street grant. New Castle Main Street hosted the event at the newly renovated Castle Theatre event venue and members of the New Castle Main Street community, Mayor Greg York, City Council members, the Henry County Economic Development Corporation, and business owners were among those who attended.
The award is given to communities committed to revitalizing their downtown areas. New Castle will receive $2 million to help fund projects to make its downtown more vibrant and attractive to residents and visitors. The Lieutenant Governor briefly spoke about New Castle being a great place with a reverence for history and having friendly people who work together to revitalize the community. She noted that the grant will help change downtown New Castle for the better.
New Castle is “a great example of what can be accomplished when a community comes together to revitalize its downtown,” Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch praised.
Restoring A Sense of Community
Carrie Barrett, the Executive Director of New Castle Main Street, thanked everyone involved in the grant and revitalization efforts for downtown. She reflected on the closure of many manufacturing businesses in the area over the past few decades, which left the community with a sense of loss and a collective mindset that they did not deserve good things. However, she pointed out that New Castle once thrived and was full of prosperous businesses, and she looks forward to continuing to restore that sense of community and prosperity.
Carrie also talked about the importance of love in her community. She believes that learning to love oneself is the greatest love of all and that this is what the community is doing by reflecting on and celebrating its history.
A Community Effort
Emily Hurst, a New Castle native and Project Manager for New Castle Main Street, was among the community team members who spoke at Castle Theatre alongside the Lieutenant Governor and Carrie Barrett. She is honored to be a part of the team working to revitalize the downtown area and believes in the city’s potential. She is grateful for the community’s support and hopes her children will choose to raise their families in New Castle. She is confident that the town’s future is bright.
Mayor Greg York said the designation is “a great honor for New Castle” and will “help us continue to revitalize our downtown and make it a destination for people from all over.” The mayor is proud of the town’s progress, excited about the future, and thanks everyone for their support.
City Councilman Aaron Dicken has fond memories of growing up in New Castle. He and his wife have chosen to raise their family here and are proud of the town’s revitalization efforts. They are excited for their children to grow up in a community committed to progress.
Closing the ceremony, Corey Murphy, Executive Director for the Henry County Economic Development Corporation, offered the song “Downtown” as a metaphor for the community. He is inspired by the energy and support for New Castle and says that even though work is ahead, this monumental moment deserves celebration.
The PreservINg Main Street program is one example of how OCRA and Indiana Landmarks work together to help communities revitalize their downtown areas. The program has succeeded in helping communities like New Castle attract new businesses, create jobs, and improve the quality of life for residents. New Castle plans to use the funding to renovate additional historic buildings, preserve history, improve streetscapes, and attract new businesses.