Beardsley Ave. business owners and residents have been gearing up to market their neighborhood to the outside world. All this work has led to their soon-to-be-revealed new name and logo. To find out more, we talked with two people who helped guide the historic neighborhood through the branding process: Elkhart City Director of Development Services Crystal Welsh and Elkhart County Convention & Visitors Bureau CEO Diana Lawson.
“This project belongs to the Beardsley Ave. business owners and residents.”
-Crystal Welsh, Elkhart City Director of Development Services
“It is always inspirational when people become engaged in shaping their future. Our places and our people all have stories to tell. ”
–Diana Lawson, CEO, Elkhart County Convention & Visitors Bureau
What does branding mean?
Diana Lawson: Branding is a process that helps define the vision for the future of the neighborhood.
Crystal Welsh: Through the branding process, the local stakeholders decide on a shared vision and character to use when they promote their neighborhood to the public.
What was the branding process like?
Diana Lawson: The brand process was an inclusive progression of discussions and decisions about the future of the district. It included a series of meetings that allowed all neighborhood stakeholders to contribute and decide together how they want to portray their neighborhood.
Crystal Welsh: The stakeholders’ energy and enthusiasm for the branding and revitalization efforts for their neighborhood was contagious. They worked hard to honor both the industrial and architectural history. It is very exciting that the community has come together and is working to improve their neighborhood.
Why does the Beardsley Ave. neighborhood need its own brand?
Crystal Welsh: The goal of branding is to revitalize the neighborhood and spur economic development. Branding will help promote the Beardsley Ave. neighborhood to many different groups: current and future property owners, businesses, residents, and visitors. This process has been aspirational yet authentic, and I believe it will promote a strong economic strategy.
Diana Lawson: It is always inspirational when people become engaged in shaping their future. Our places and our people all have stories to tell. Discovering those stories, shaping them in a way that allows others to see the past and the future, is a powerful transformation.
Is this branding part of the city’s overall redevelopment plans?
Crystal Welsh: Yes. The Elkhart Redevelopment Commission established a Redevelopment Area and Plan for the Beardsley neighborhood in 2005. This plan outlined a series of public improvements that the Commission might undertake to spur redevelopment.
Is this project part of the SOMA initiative and Gateway Mile?
Crystal Welsh: The Beardsley Avenue branding process is not directly related to the SoMa or Gateway Mile projects – those are part of the Downtown Redevelopment Area Plan. However, this initiative was modeled after the success of these projects. The Beardsley Ave. branding project coordinates with the redevelopment and economic development plans for the other districts around the City, as well as the overall promotional strategy for the City of Elkhart.
Who owns this project?
Crystal Welsh: This project belongs to the Beardsley Ave. business owners and residents. The City of Elkhart is not branding Beardsley Ave. The Elkhart Redevelopment Commission is providing financial and technical resources that help support that community’s effort to develop a brand and neighborhood character they can use to promote their area.