Downtown Development director says marketing is first step

With a new interim director and plans to open a park in the center of Muncie, members of Muncie Downtown Development looked optimistic to take the next steps in revitalizing the city.

Former Muncie mayor Dan Canan, the interim director of Downtown Development, said during the meeting that there is a need for marketing in the city.

"There's still a lot of support out there, many supporting our organization through donations," he said.

Downtown Development had been running under the supervision of program manager Cheryl Crowder and other members of the organization. However, it had not had a director in about three years.

Canan said he decided to become the interim director because he wanted to help the community in its appearance and presentation.

"It's important we have a vibrant, clean downtown, with a lot of amenities in it," he said. "I became the director because I have big passion for [the community] and I have the free time for it; I am going to do it as long as I can."

During the meeting, Crowder said there is a need for an identity to distinguish the organization that has helped the community.

"There's kind of a confusion out there, so I feel like we need to decide at some point what we are called and what it is that we do," she said.

The name of the organization has been changed over the past few years several times, which is confusing for community members and sponsors, Canan said.

Secretary of Downtown Development Carey Hayes said confusion in the naming and branding of the organization became an issue when they applied for cultural district recognition. The city of Muncie's application for recognition of its cultural districts was turned down by the Indiana Arts Commission last week.

The commission said the frequent name changes indicated a lack of organization, which played a role in the rejection.
Hayes said the naming and branding of the city needs to focus on the community as a whole, as opposed to focusing only on the downtown area.

"We need to keep the big picture of Muncie, so the entire community is included," Hayes said.

Members of the Muncie Arts and Culture Commission will meet Friday at the Cornerstone Center for the Arts to discuss the issues that brought the Indiana Arts Commission to reject Muncie's application, including the branding.

An update was also given on how plans for a new park in Muncie are going.

The Canan Commons City Park, located at the south end of Walnut Street downtown, will be going under construction starting in mid-March and completion is set for the middle of summer. The area for the park was purchased under the Canan administration and funds for the construction were obtained through grants.

The space will include a performance stage, eight solar- and wind-powered lights and rain gardens to help clean storm water.

"The park will help make the downtown area more attractive for the community, and I think it will also help with the district," Hayes said. "There is a lot of community and financial support for it and it is a major asset in the development of the district."


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