This column could be part three of “Why I Love My Town.” This week, the league is spotlighting an amazing technology partnership that is promoting economic development in Crawfordsville and Montgomery County.
In partnership with Indianapolis-based Vision Three, Crawfordsville will become the “everytown” of VR technology used to recruit employees and market companies. Everytown refers to the idea of an everyman, an old literary template that brings a message intended to reach as many people as possible. In this case, Crawfordsville would be the template for the US community.
Here’s how it works: Vision Three’s mission is to provide 2D and 3D content for businesses to recruit, market and train. Last year, they launched an educational partnership with Hoosier high schools and Ivy Tech. They will provide immersive experiences for high school students, giving students the opportunity to try out a future career through virtual reality. They have partnered with many communities and districts across the state, from Bartholomew Schools to Elkhart and now Montgomery County.
Discussions that began with the administrators of the county’s three school corporations about where to locate a central site turned into discussions with our county’s economic development coordinator, Cheryl Morphew, and Mayor Todd Barton’s office.
Not only did the corporations and county decide to find the Vision Three experience in Fusion 54, the city decided to partner with Vision Three to make Crawfordsville a model community that users of the system would face in virtual reality. Wearing a pair of VR goggles, users “walk” into Crawfordsville.
How does this help Crawfordsville and the entire county?
“Ten years ago, the county’s economic goals were ‘jobs,'” Mayor Barton said. “Now we (the economic development team and the mayor’s office) can be very strategic about that. We have hundreds of jobs and more to come. Now let’s look at recruiting high-paying jobs.”
Barton is excited about this partnership. Over the next few months, Vision Three and local leaders will create content showcasing local assets. As Barton said, “We feel confident in doing this because our community is showing up so well.” As industries visit Montgomery County, many commit to locating here. Other communities may have a beach or mountains, but Crawfordsville has impressive assets.
“It’s going to show us how to increase exposure through this virtual reality platform,” Barton said.
Communities like ours have many of the following characteristics, says Edward T. of the New Hampshire Municipal Association. McMahon wrote: A vision for the future, a strong inventory of its assets, a plan to increase those assets, a vision to use education and incentives (not just regulation) to grow, discernment to pick and choose from development projects, a sense of cooperation for the mutual benefit of neighbors, a focus on sociology, and finally strong leadership and committed citizens. .
He goes on to say that successful communities “engage a broad cross-section of residents in determining and planning for the future” and capitalize on “distinctive assets — in architecture, history, natural environments, and home-grown businesses.” A new and different identity.
We have many “broad cross sections” invested in developing our community. From leaders of the Main Street Association and LWVMC climate, economic and health teams to the library, Carnegie Museum, Lew Wallace Study, Tennebaum Center, Wabash College, our industries, business owners, local boards, clubs, religious communities, nonprofits, the list goes on and on. It’s impossible to tag them all, but each contributes to success in the present and future.
Dr. Morfu for introducing the idea of bringing Vision Three here and facilitating the teamwork of school corporations in this and other emerging initiatives. Barton also praised Colin Moran.
Crawfordsville is the first and currently the only city to create content for Vision Three. A partnership that aligns the County’s fiscal goals with Vision Three’s plan demonstrates confidence in our community. We have a great park system, a great start to a trail system, museums, libraries, a college, strong schools, and a downtown that has recently shown promising “home grown businesses.” Our energy sources are more sustainable. We have attracted housing developers and redeveloped many old buildings into housing.
We have room to grow and improve. When high school students visit Fusion 54, put on VR goggles and tour a place like Ellis Aviation takes apart an engine, our city can send glasses to companies looking for a new site. Those companies can save money on travel but still get to experience Montgomery County.
All content created for VR experiences has a cost. The city benefits from American Rescue Plan funds and TIF-business tax revenue. Local businesses have not yet signed on with Vision Three, but as the technology becomes more widely adopted, they may find that their return on investment improves, especially if they use grants from the state to offset the upfront cost of creating marketing and recruiting. Similar content to the city. In the long run, Vision Three’s education plan will not only generate more interest in high-paying careers locally, but will also help the county attract more of those jobs.
The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan, multi-issue organization, promotes informed and active participation in government, works to increase public understanding of key policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. All men and women are invited to join the LWV, where working hand in hand to protect democracy leads to civil progress. For information, visit the website at www.lwvmontcoin.org or the League of Women Voters of Montgomery County, IN Facebook page.