Downtown groups planning to merge

Article by Steve Garbacz of KPC Media

Two organizations overlap in purpose, membership

KENDALLVILLE — Two Kendallville groups are planning to merge, which will ideally allow for one more active organization aiming to host events and promote the downtown.

The Kendallville Main Street Business Association and Experience the Heart of Kendallville are planning to combine into one group, Kendallville Chamber of Commerce executive director Lynette Leamon told the city’s Economic Development Advisory Council on Monday.

There’s some overlap in the goals of both groups, with the business association representing downtown shopkeepers and the experience group promoting downtown events, she said.

“It makes more sense to be together as one,” Leamon said. “That hopefully will bring more people to the table to work on downtown, get more merchants involved. I think it will help everyone come together.”

Experience the Heart of Kendallville was formed in 2015 as the city’s official entity under the state’s Indiana Main Street program. It includes members from the downtown business community, as well as city officials. That group was tasked with continuing downtown revitalization work, promoting the historic downtown and hosting several subcommittees to manage downtown design guidelines, promotion and economic development.

The Main Street Business Association has played a role in planning several downtown events and runs the lead on activities including the farmers’ markets, trick-or-treat on Main Street and the downtown vintage market during the Kendallville Apple Festival, among others, Leamon said.

There’s still some work to be done before the groups combine, such as coordinating how money will be transferred and earmarked in a merger, but the process is advancing, she said.