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Editorial: Alliance’s focus: Help county reach potential

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Cooperation, rather than competition, is leading to improvements across Johnson County.

Committees are discussing ways to link Greenwood to Edinburgh with a usable and attractive trail system. A consistent zoning code would give buildings and signs along State Road 135 a uniform look, rather than a hodgepodge appearance.

Government leaders from Bargersville, Franklin, Greenwood, Trafalgar and Whiteland meet monthly to discuss countywide issues instead of working on them separately. As it finishes up its first year of work, Aspire Johnson County is mapping out ways to continue uniting the community to promote and improve Johnson County.

Business, government and nonprofit leaders have identified the most pressing concerns, such as how to build an identity for the county and attract the best young talent to live and work in the community.

“Everyone is asking how we can help each other benefit in a win-win situation,” said Stephen Spencer, founder of Advantis Medical and a contributor to Aspire Johnson County. “A lot of us have businesses, serve on nonprofits. We have the best leaders, people who are used to donating their time, and they’re not going to walk away from this.”

Aspire Johnson County is an initiative of the Johnson County Development Corp., which focuses on economic development in the county. The concept was to gather community leaders to brainstorm, research and put into action ways to make the county more attractive.

“It’s very refreshing to see the ‘you’ and ‘us’ turn to ‘we.’ There’s this global attitude, thinking what can we do from the top of the county to the bottom,” said Larry Heydon, CEO of Johnson Memorial Hospital.

After receiving a grant of $5,333 from the Johnson County Community Foundation, the group hired consultant Lee Lewellen to research, organize volunteers into committees and keep members on task. Since March, the effort has brought together people from organizations such as Ivy Tech Community College and the Johnson County Public Library with businesses such as Johnson Memorial Hospital and Advantis Medical.

“We’re bridging that gap that had been there, across all governmental offices,” Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers said. “We’ve made that commitment to sit down together and be able to talk about our issues.”

What started as a group of about 30 has grown to include more than 100 working to bring more business to the county.

Aspire Johnson County is a true success story and one that holds great promise for the area. Business and civic leaders realize that local communities can’t exist, let alone thrive, in a vacuum. By exploring common issues and looking for collaborative solutions, everyone wins.

As the organization moves forward it plans to examine specific issues, including recreation, specifically trails; attracting highly educated residents to the county; infrastructure; and branding.

Myers expressed the mission clearly when he said, “We want Johnson County to continue to grow and become a better community every day.”

We congratulate the organization on its work so far and look forward to its future accomplishments.

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