Angela Rose, La Porte native, makes it her duty to connect her community to the endless possibilities the city has to offer. Her vision started at a very young age and never stopped.
“I grew up in La Porte, in the country. I was always begging my parents to go into town to see all the things that were happening,” Rose said.
Halfway through middle school, Rose started noticing that downtown was starting to grow desolate, with the roller rink and movie theater shutting down. However, her parents’ professions showed her that anything has the ability to transform.
“My dad is a carpenter and runs his own construction company, and my mom is a German cabinet maker by trade. They opened my eyes to how much I loved refurbishing old furniture and making things beautiful again.”
Rose went to La Porte High School and then straight to Ball State University where she got her bachelor's degree in urban planning and development. She achieved her master’s of science in historic preservation there, as well.
“My first year at Ball State, I was taking intro classes for Urban Planning, Architecture, and Landscape Architecture. I was able to explore the many facets of urban planning and envision the various ways I could use it to improve communities,” Rose said.
She noted that her bachelor’s degree and master’s were a perfect match.
“Historic preservation and urban planning go hand in hand, alongside development. Historic character is a big draw for people! My plan is to unveil that more in downtown La Porte,” Rose said, noting her memory of the beautiful woodwork and historical details of many buildings downtown.
“I am an army wife and got married right after college. I was out of the La Porte area for a while and when I came back, I started noticing that downtown buildings were being improved,” Rose said.
Downtown La Porte is classified as a Main Street Community partly because it has enough downtown historic integrity intact. Because of this, unique doors are opened for funding and grants to maintain, upkeep, and preserve the historical architecture.
A program called Urban Enterprise Zone was established to fund these projects, a program controlled by the nonprofit La Porte Urban Enterprise Association (LPUEA). The Zone facilitates urban revitalization, economic growth, and development.
The grants are delegated to all types of scaled projects depending on the needs of the business or organization. Sometimes it's a tuckpointing and a fresh paint job, new awnings, or replacing inappropriate non-historic materials.
“The grants help combat disinvestment and rejuvenate downtown,” Rose said. “A majority of the buildings were built from 1800-1940.
So how does Rose play a part in this rejuvenation?
“My profession is funded through five different agencies: The City of La Porte, Urban Enterprise Association, The Chamber of Commerce (merged with Greater La Porte Economic Corporation) and the La Porte County Convention and Visitors Bureau,” said Rose.
Through these agencies, Rose serves as the Downtown Director for La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership and has the opportunity to develop the city of La Porte through various connections. Community tradition is a big part of her initiative as she creates events that draw and improve the quality of life. In fact, when she answered the phone for this interview, she was picking up a movie for the downtown movie showing that evening.
Rose has become the propeller of replenishing cherished traditions that have dwindled away. Such traditions like the Santa Parade, the Cookie Walk, and the Holiday Scavenger Hunt are on their way back. These activities promote community members to explore the possibilities of downtown.
“I also focus on economic development for business attraction. When people want to relocate their business to downtown, I provide the database for available properties, market those, and streamline that process for them,” Rose said.
As part of the Urban Enterprise Association, Rose is familiar with many available grants, administers them for downtown businesses, and sets up showings to facilitate the process.
As far as promoting, Rose spends time strategizing on social media.
“I am becoming more active on promoting downtown La Porte by sharing businesses in the community like Dick’s Bar, Go Aerial Yoga, or Grit and Grace,” Rose said.
Right now, Rose is focusing on creating a grant for signage as many buildings don’t have the correct sign, or even a sign at all. She also travels to other communities to see what could possibly fit into La Porte.
“I spend a lot of time going to different communities to see if businesses want to open a second location in La Porte,” Rose said. “We have some really good restaurants, but we are lacking in entertainment and specialty things.”
Just recently Rose was involved in helping Ben Konowitz and Katie Misiak find a space for La Porte’s first ever Escape Room. Find them here www.lpescape.com.
Rose is just one of many builders and shakers in the City of La Porte. Play your part by visiting the city’s website and discover what you can do to promote the vision.