City of Bedford, Indiana

Mayor Shawna Girgis Bedford Stellar Community Work Pays Off Press Release
Friday, March 01, 2019



Bedford Stellar Community Work Pays Off


For Release on February 19, 2019

Revised February 28, 2019



Shawna Girgis, Mayor

Marla Jones, Director of Business & Community Development                               

City of Bedford                                             

(812) 279-6555 -  office                                                                        


The City of Bedford was designated a 2013 Stellar Community, a statewide rural community revitalization initiative unique to Indiana, which is headed by the Lieutenant Governor and the Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA).  Funding for Bedford’s Stellar Initiative came from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, OCRA, Indiana Department of Transportation, as well as local private and public funds.  OCRA states that “the Stellar Communities program embodies collaborative government partnerships and successfully leverages state and federal funding from multiple agencies to undertake large-scale projects.  Through this program, Indiana is doing more with current resources and making a bigger impact in communities, even with a slimmer budget”.  This big impact is evident today in Bedford.  


The Strategic Investment plan for Bedford’s Stellar Community application was carefully crafted for the transformative impact it would have on the downtown area.  The plan was created from local planning efforts that resulted in the first comprehensive plan in 25 years, followed by a detailed and focused downtown revitalization plan.  Bedford’s commitment to future growth was the driving forces behind the Stellar proposal. 


The result of these efforts is a Stellar Investment Plan that was developed by Bedford for Bedford.  The first Bedford Stellar Community plan was proposed in 2011.  Although a Stellar finalist, Bedford was not selected to be funded or receive the designation as a Stellar Community.  However, several projects in the 2011 application including the Lincoln Avenue Roundabout, Milwaukee Rail-Trail, Stalker School Apartments, Lincoln Avenue and U Street Channel stormwater infrastructure improvements have been completed through grant funds outside of the Indiana Stellar Program and have brought over $10.7 million to the community as a result of state or federal grants.


Utilizing the City Comprehensive Plan and the Downtown Revitalization Plan as guides, the 2013 Bedford Stellar Community Proposal focused on the heart of our community, the downtown.  An impact area was chosen and goals of the 2013 Stellar plan were developed, which are listed below.  


      Promote Economic Development, particularly on Main Street

      Insure a Trained and Ready Workforce

      Cultivate a Vibrant Downtown District

      Enhance Quality of Life


To make these goals a reality the City of Bedford has implemented projects including the Limestone Downtown Connector Trail; relocation and renovation of the Milwaukee Depot; the Stone Gate Arts & Education Center; Stonecutters Place – Senior Apartments; Murals; improvements to the Downtown Bedford Streetscapes, Façades, and the Courthouse Plaza; as well as development of Harp Commons.  Projects that have yet to be completed include gateways to the downtown area and wayfinding signage. 


The City of Bedford led proposal development, but the Stellar Community designation was the result of a team effort that would not have been possible without local financial investment in this endeavor.  The City of Bedford worked with Hope Flores, Director of the Lawrence County Community Foundation to establish a Bedford Community Development Fund that started a local fundraising campaign.  When the Lawrence County Commissioners and Lawrence County Council pledged $500,000 toward a dollar for dollar matching fund for all non-city investment, fundraising efforts flourished.  To date, the 2013 Stellar Community projects have brought over $27 million of investment to downtown Bedford.  Of these funds approximately $945,000 came from the city budget.  The Redevelopment Commission invested $3.2 million and secured a $3.5 million USDA Rural Development low-interest loan using TIF funds to complete the StoneGate Arts and Education Center.  The remainder of the funding was provided through state and federal grants, private local investment, and donations. 


The City of Bedford is grateful to the following individuals and organizations for their financial investment in Bedford’s Stellar Community Initiative.  Private donations from local organizations and individuals total $1,169,340. 


      Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce

      Bedford Federal Savings Bank

      Bedford Redevelopment Commission

      Bedford Revitalization, Inc.  (BRI)

      Bedford Times – Mail

      Bedford Urban Enterprise Association (BUEA)

      Steve Fergusson

      General Motors

      German American Bank

      Hoosier Hills Credit Union

      Hoosier Uplands

      Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT)

      Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA)

      Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA)

      IU Health - Bedford

      Lawrence County Community Foundation

      Lawrence County Government

      Lawrence County Economic Growth Council

      Lee Marchant – Garden Villa

      Radius Indiana

      Regional Impact Fund

      Stone City Products

      Vision Group – East Gate Business & Technology Center


From 2011 - 2019 the City of Bedford invested just $1.00 of general budgeted funds to leverage nearly $20.00 in investment or 4.7% of the $38 million in projects that were initiated as a result of the Indiana Stellar Community Program.  The entire 2013 Stellar project area and downtown Bedford is in a TIF district, which enabled the Bedford Redevelopment Commission to invest in the project.  The Redevelopment Commission invested 17.8% of project funds with each $1.00 through TIF funds leveraging $4.59 of additional investment.


Mayor Girgis shared “Bedford’s 2011 and 2013 Stellar Community planning efforts and implementation demonstrates the commitment of city leaders to the growth and improvement of our community that would not have been possible without state and federal grant funds.  I am extremely grateful to the State of Indiana for investing in Bedford, as well as the commitment of the City Council, Redevelopment Commission, Lawrence County Government, and numerous private partners that believed and invested in this work.  It is because of each of these organizations and individuals that these plans have become reality.  I encourage future leaders to vigorously pursue state and federal dollars that would otherwise go to other communities.  These dollars enable us to improve the quality of place in Bedford, which is essential to attracting and retaining individuals, families, and businesses to the greater Lawrence County community”. 


Detailed information regarding each Stellar Community project funding sources including grants, city budget dollars, RDC/TIF funds, donations, USDA Rural Development, investors, and other investment is provided on the attached spreadsheet.  Please note that this information will be updated and will not be finalized until all Stellar Community grants and projects are completed and closed out with the State of Indiana.