KENTLAND — With more than 100 people in attendance, the new branding for the Town of Kentland was unveiled during a presentation on June 17 at the Kentland Community Center.

The new branding for the town included a new tagline or slogan “Boldly Moving Forward”, and a redesigned logo.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” stated Joseph Gonzalez, Creative Director of Vast Creative, which was hired by the town’s Opportunity Zone Task Force to help with strategic planning. “We are also going to revamp the town’s website to showcase what this town has to offer.”

The June 17 presentation covered several topics including the new branding, economic development ideas, current projects, discussion on the Opportunity Zone, and possible future projects.

“This is an outline of what we want to do over the next several years,” said Mike Davis Opportunity Zone Task Force Director. “Vast Creative and the town board have been wonderful partners. When I was asked to start a task force for the Opportunity Zone I thought we needed to go a step above and develop an actual economic development plan. The last plan I’ve seen coming out of Kentland like that was in 1977.”

Kentland Branding

Before any decision could be made on the new town branding, Vast Creative and the OZ Task Force wanted to get a solid foundation of how the residents see their own town. So based on a survey that was sent out to town residents, the “DNA and Pillars” of the town were established.

Kentland’s DNA

Quality: We take pride in our great quality of life, enjoying friends, family, casual recreation, and outdoor activities. Our top-notch school system, beautiful downtown, and parks are just a few of the amenities that make our residents so happy.

Community: Possessing a strong rural identity, Kentland is a small, welcoming, and affordable town to live and raise a family in. Our community maintains a close-knit atmosphere and takes great pride in caring for each other.

Dedicated: Long-time residents, businesses, and our local government are focused on forging a bright future for Kentland. This ongoing investment is part of who we are.

Kentland’s Town Pillars

Safe: We’re welcoming and highly value our town’s security. Our people take care of each other and offer a helping hand, especially in times of need.

Friendly: Our community is known for its friendliness, and we support our town’s values through a kind and generous spirit.

Driven: Our agricultural town was founded on a legacy of hard work. Embracing this tradition is a driving force in maximizing our potential within Newton County.

Future Projects

In a meeting with Rural Opportunity Zones Initiative (ROZI) the OZ Task Force defined two initial projects that were both suitable to Kentland’s Opportunity Zone and highlighted the community’s interest. The projects included an intergenerational wellness center, which would feature separate buildings for childcare, health services, and senior living, as well as a walking path, green space, and a playground for children. It also clarified new business development opportunities the town could pursue in order to draw in new jobs, residents, and investors.

From this meeting, a Concept Project was developed — the Thrive Intergenerational Wellness Campus.

A possible site for the project would be a portion of Batton Park. The wellness campus would ideally be completed in three phases with the first stage being a privately funded 28 unit Senior Living Facility.

Phase 2 could include a 5-classroom Childcare center for ages newborn up to preschool age.

Phase 3 would be the wellness center as the task force is currently exploring Urgent Care, Primary Care, Mental Health, and Nutrition.

The total project investment for the Thrive project is $4.5 million and would create an estimated 22 jobs at the minimum.

“Nothing has been determined with this project,” said Casey Ward of the OZ Task Force. “This is just a concept at this point. This project would be blending together three elements for the better of this community. The park space would be restructured but also updated. It would create new jobs and opportunities, but it would also be providing for us what we as a community need.”

As for new business development, Davis added the areas of focus could include new sector possibilities like solar, agribusiness, light manufacturing, warehousing and logistics, and real estate.

Projects in Progress

There are two major projects currently in the planning stages for Kentland. Kentland Fire Chief Matt Wittenborn spoke briefly about the new fire station that is moving forward after receiving funding. The new station will be located on Bailey Street on a two-acre lot and will be 9,911 square feet.

“This will be a much safer building for the firefighters and also be more efficient to serve the town,” said Wittenborn. “We hope to get it built next year.”

Funding for the new station came from:

  • $500,000 OCRA Grant
  • $300,000 Grant from Newton County
  • $250,000 Loan from Newton County (10 Years No Interest)
  • $150,000 Grant Jefferson Township Trustee
  • $100,000 Pledged from the Town of Kentland
  • $69,880 raised by the Town of Kentland, which includes a $10,000 donation from John & Kathy Cassidy and a $10,000 donation from Don & Abby Funk. These funds were raised through combined efforts at the Jasper-Newton Foundation.

Jim Butler, President of the Kentland Aviation board, spoke on the $4.5 million of improvements the Kentland Municipal Airport has made over the past decade with 95 percent of the funding come from the FAA and the state.

“The airport has been evolving to be a valuable piece of infrastructure and an important tool to help the town grow,” said Butler.

Currently, the airport is looking at a $1.3 million stormwater improvement project that will also add a new taxi area, new hangars, and a new terminal.

“The stormwater improvement will reduce the amount of peak flow to the Kent Ditch and will help reduce flooding at no cost to the town. The project will be funded 95 percent by the FAA and 5 percent from the state.

Opportunity Zone

The Opportunity Zone program is a federal program designed to spur community investment by providing tax benefits to investors who hold their investment between five to ten years.

“While the Opportunity Zone program is designed with the intention of being presented to potential investors, the beneficial effects of investments made in Kentland could be felt for years to come,” stated the presentation. “The results could come in the form of new industries taking root in the town, new jobs being created and more families taking up residence in Kentland.”