Valparaiso Up for $3 Million Prize as America’s Best Community

LaPorteValpoFrontier4The City of Valparaiso has been selected as one of 50 finalists for America’s Best Communities, a nationwide program created by Frontier Communications, DISH Network, CoBank, and the Weather Channel. To advance to the next round of the competition and the final $3 million prize, communities are being asked to submit big ideas that will engage their communities and stimulate economic development.

Valparaiso’s BIG IDEA is to create an Arts District in the city’s downtown. “Creating an arts destination has so many advantages for our community. We see it as a place where people can create, showcase their talents, teach others, and find opportunities to sell their works,” said Mayor Jon Costas. The Arts District is planned for the Indiana Avenue corridor – from Campbell Street on the west to Valparaiso University on the east. “The location is ideal for linking the city to the university, bringing all ages together to learn and mentor one another,” said Costas.

The Arts District would also serve to maximize new technologies, such as digital media, computer graphics, and animation to encourage creative thinking. A committee is working together to develop the idea of an Arts District and showcase Valparaiso’s benefits as the city moves forward in the America’s Best Communities competition. “To advance in the competition, Valparaiso must demonstrate that the community is engaged and supportive of ideas like the Arts District,” said City Planner Tyler Kent. “We plan to hold public meetings over the coming months, inviting input from the entire community,” he said. To learn of these opportunities, you may follow the city on Facebook at “Valparaiso Now” and “Valparaiso for America’s Best Community.”

The committee responsible for organizing and advancing the Arts District idea includes City Administrator Bill Oeding, City Planner Tyler Kent, ValpoNEXT leader Matt Evans, Valparaiso Chamber President Rex Richards, Economic Development Director Patrick Lyp, Valpo Intern Lauren Orchard, and Grant Writer Mary Jane Thomas. For more information, you may call Tyler Kent at City Hall, 462-1161 or email Planning Intern Lauren Orchard at

America’s Best Communities was introduced to inspire communities to develop plans that stimulate economic development. The contest challenged communities from Frontier’s 27-state service territory to compete for support and funding based on their vision and plans for the future. A total of 347 communities entered and Valparaiso’s victory puts the city in the top 50 nationwide. The Valpo Chamber of Commerce nominated the city.