Disappointed but Resolute

Madison falls short in America’s Best Communities competition

Committee members say city
will move forward with plans

DENVER (May 2017) – While it fell just short of the top prizes, Madison, Ind., will forever be considered one of America’s Best Communities, according to a press release from the contest sponsors.
Huntington, W.V., Lake Havasu City, Ariz., and Statesboro, Ga., finished as the competition’s top three, respectively. Those communities won $3 million, $2 million and $1 million as the top three finalists.

Top Finishers
1. Huntington, W.V., $3 million
2. Lake Havasu City, Ariz., $2 million
3. Statesboro, Ga., $1 million

The other competing communities in the eight finalists included Chisago Lakes, Minn., Darrington-Arlington, Wash., Tualatin, Ore., and Valley County, Idaho.
Since the contest began in September 2014, Madison has earned $150,000 in prize grants from America’s Best Communities, a $10 million community revitalization competition sponsored by Frontier Communications, DISH Network, CoBank and The Weather Channel. About 350 communities entered the competition.
Representatives of Madison in attendance in Denver included ABC Team members Valecia Crisafulli, Lindsay Bloos, Andrew Forrester, Jim Olson and Mayor Damon Welch. The prize ceremony concluded a day full of presentations from all finalist communities, with Crisafulli, Bloos and Forrester providing the presentation for Madison.
“While we are disappointed in the ultimate outcome, we walk away proud of what we accomplished in the competition the last two years,” said Mayor Damon Welch. “We have shown we’re one of America’s Best Communities, and we’re so grateful to every community member and organization who played a part in our projects; we never would have gotten here without you.”
Madison’s ABC efforts centered around the “Madison Connector,” which included reopening Hatcher Hill road as a bicycle and pedestrian trail and reinvigorating Mulberry Street. Hatcher Hill opened last October with improvements happening incrementally the last few months, while the Mulberry Street façade grant program made possible through ABC and a grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs is just now getting to the visible phase.

Photo provided

The ABC team members representing Madison, Ind., in Denver were (from left) Jim Olson, Lindsay Bloos, Andrew Forrester, Valecia Crisafulli and Mayor Damon Welch.

“We have been able to do so much through this competition on Hatcher Hill, Mulberry St, and with Madison Moves,” said Bloos, the Madison Chamber of Commerce executive director. “The ABC competition has laid the foundation for future success in our community, and I know we will build on it.”
Efforts to continue the work that was started through America’s Best Communities will continue, despite not winning the final prize, Forrester said. The Madison ABC team already has future meetings scheduled to discuss how to move forward on the Madison Connector trail as well as the work on Mulberry Street.
“Obviously, we’re disappointed. We thought we had a great shot to win,” said Forrester, the city’s Community Relations Manager. “We had so many people back home who had put in a lot of effort and were watching and cheering us on. But ultimately, we know our plan and Madison’s success doesn’t depend on winning the America’s Best Communities competition.
“We are going to move forward, especially with our pursuit of Stellar Communities and other opportunities to improve our community, even if it means our timetable is longer.
“Ultimately, we are proud to live in Madison. We know it’s one of America’s best, and we’re going to keep working with the whole community to make it better.”
Hundreds attended local “Prize Parties” at Boneyard Grill and the Red Bicycle Hall to watch the announcement live from an online stream. “Watching the video and photos from the watch parties back home was so encouraging, and we’re grateful to our community for their support. We met some amazing communities through this process and learned a lot from them that we can bring back and implement. This has truly been a win-win for all involved,” said Crisafulli, the Envision Jefferson County, Ind.,  Coordinator.
Madison was one of eight finalists and won $50,000 at the quarterfinals stage in May 2015 and then won $100,000 at the ABC Summit in Durham, N.C., in April 2016.
Created to inspire revitalization and growth in small towns and rural communities across the country, America’s Best Communities challenged local leaders to bring their neighbors together to envision a stronger future and build a strategy to improve lives and livelihoods. It has served as a catalyst for positive change by awarding seed funding to help communities turn their exceptional ideas from vision to reality.    
From the original pool of about 350 communities, the field was narrowed to 50 in the quarterfinals, 15 in the semifinals and down to eight finalists. Communities advanced in the competition based on the effectiveness of the revitalization plans developed, fine-tuned and implemented over the course of the three-year competition.
Throughout the competition, from its start through the grand prize round, an independent panel of expert judges reviewed and scored communities’ proposals based on an objective set of criteria. Their scoring and independent analysis determined winners. 

• For more on the competition, visit www.americasbestcommunities.com

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