Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett, Chamber Host 2019 City Update
Terre Haute, Ind. – Major topics of the new year were addressed by Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett during Thursday morning’s City Update, hosted by the Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by AT&T Indiana.
The annual event geared towards updating the business community is considered one of the Mayor’s “favorite” events. Bennett says he sees it as an opportunity to recap the past year and look forward to goals and plans for the future.
“I love it,” he says. “Every year there are always some good stuff to talk about and there are always a few negative things. That’s the nature of the city. The last few years we have been building momentum after the financial situation because of property tax caps, it was really holding people back and pulled us down, but once we had gotten over that hurdle and all of the sudden all these doors are opening to some exciting stuff and I think the key is encouraging people to focus on the positives and be cheerleaders for our community.”
During the hour long speech and Q&A session, Bennett addressed topics including city financials, the Margaret Avenue overpass, tourism, economic development and future projects; specifically the downtown Terre Haute convention center and proposed casino. Bennett acknowledged that both projects have received negative and positive community reactions. In terms of the casino, he says he’s focusing on the positive economic impact.
“There are some people that are opposed to a casino, but it’s going to go somewhere in Indiana and so Terre Haute is the most logical place,” he explains. “Here we are today in a situation that doesn’t often happen where they are going to move a license. Bringing that here is a strictly economic development decision for me.”
Bennett notes that the $150 million investment will bring in around 400 jobs, many paying $25/hour or more. In addition to the project paying property taxes and employees paying personal property taxes the casino would bring in millions of dollars to the community.
Another project Bennett didn’t mention in his main presentation, but noted afterwards was the city’s new police department. He explains the city is currently looking into financing options. He says once financing is secured, construction will begin, which he says will happen in 2019.
While wrapping up, Bennett outlined his four pillars for the future and highlighted joint efforts between the city and the Chamber of Commerce. With initiatives including West Central 2025, ribbon cuttings (47 in 2018!), Defense Development, community planning and Downtown Terre Haute, he applauded the efforts of both organizations.
“We want people to stay in Terre Haute,” he said. “So how do we as a community get behind them? Bring jobs, provide social services, all that is just a community effort. And I think that’s what we are trying to do; focus house by house, neighborhood by neighborhood and figure out how we can help then they will stay here and continue to invest in our community.”