Boone County Economic Development Commision

Lebanon, IN— The 2022 Boone County State of the Community brought together elected officials to discuss community growth and investment.

The event held January 27, 2022 at the Boone County Fairgrounds, allowed residents, business owners, community partners the opportunity to ask questions of a panel of elected officials throughout the county.

The panelists included:

  • Elise Nieshalla, Boone County Council
  • Jeff Wolfe, Boone County Commissioner
  • Mayor Matt Gentry, City of Lebanon
  • Mayor Emily Styron, Town of Zionsville
  • Clinton Bohm, Whitestown Town Council President
  • Sara Fairfield, Town of Thorntown Council
  • Cookie Leeke, Town of Jamestown Council
  • Shari Johnson, Town of Advance Clerk-Treasurer

One topic that rose to the top of the discussion was the importance of quality of place.

Zionsville Mayor Emily Styron discussed a variety of quality of place initiatives such as the town’s wayfinding plan, creating amazing outdoor amenities through our parks and Big 4 Trail. The Big 4 Trail is designed to connect the 4 larger communities, Lebanon, Thorntown, Whitestown, and Zionsville, once completed. To date, $5.9 million in state funding has been appropriated to help create and finish the trail according to Boone County Council President Elise Nieshalla.

Lebanon Mayor Matt Gentry echoed Mayor Styron’s sentiments on creating a quality place through outstanding amenities saying, “we’re all growing together”. He continued, “We want to keep people living and working in Boone County.”

Whitestown Town Council President Clinton Bohm shared more about housing throughout the county and in Whitestown in particular. Through providing a variety of housing options the hope is for Whitestown to be a town that anyone can live in. That realization starts with providing the type of housing to meet incoming residents as well as plan for future growth.

The towns of Thorntown, Jamestown, and Advance discussed the importance of infrastructure for the growing towns as well the role parks play in elevating those communities.

Other issues discussed were workforce needs, childcare, and mental health. The panelists agreed that each of these areas provides an opportunity for improvement. From the county perspective, the Boone EDC leads the way in workforce development and attraction efforts with collaboration from the municipalities. They do this through a variety of programs as well as WorkInBoone.com, Boone County’s only job connector site that also houses workforce resources.

Childcare is a felt need throughout the county. While Boone County does offer a variety of services regarding childcare, there is a need to provide adequate care for our local workforce. In two of our smaller communities, programs like WAM (Advance) and WAVE (Thorntown) help provide children with a safe before and after school environment.

A question speculating a large, proposed development west of Lebanon on 32 was raised. At this time there is no development in progress.

The event touched on the balance required of a growing county such as ours to recognize and respect our heritage while also being open to the type of change our growing markets allow. Through the creation and preservation of outdoor spaces such as our trails, parks, and Zionsville’s upcoming Carpenter Nature Preserve we can continue to tap into our agricultural heritage while providing a quality place for families to fall in love with Boone County and make it their forever home.

The Boone County State of the Community event is a partnership of the Boone EDC, Boone County Chamber of Commerce, and Zionsville Chamber of Commerce.