Crawfordsville Mayor Todd D. Barton addressed the "State of the City" at Monday's Lunch with League. This column is the first of two reporting on this presentation. The Mayor began by emphasizing the spirit of cooperation that now exists between city and county that will fuel the efforts of Montgomery County Economic Development.

"I truly believe that we must face today's challenges not merely as a city and a county but rather as a community," the Mayor stated. He also noted that many of our neighboring counties have been doing this successfully for years.

Economic development has been his top priority and thanks to the cooperative city, county, and MCED efforts, much progress has been made. "We are getting noticed and being considered for substantial projects that will bring new investment and employment opportunities to our community."

Re-use of the former Fleetwood Building is a success. Container Technologies chose Crawfordsville and will employ more and more of local residents over next few years. Main Street Properties invested more than $13 million in a new, state of the art healthcare facility near the hospital. Wellbrooke facility has already proven successful and is expanding our local market while employing local residents.

A key goal has been to focus on promoting growth among existing companies. In 2013, Crawford Industries announced a major expansion to their facility, choosing Crawfordsville over a site in Texas. Pace Dairy has undergone a major expansion, and our community was successful in a highly competitive process to win an expansion to Random House facility, which will nearly double in size and add an additional 300 jobs.

Moreover, Wright Implement recently announced plans to move their corporate headquarters to Crawfordsville, re-using the facility that formerly housed Ivy Tech.

Crawfordsville is combining forces with Wabash College to help take efforts to next level. Wabash College was recently awarded nearly $1 million from Lilly Endowment to undertake a collaborative effort with City of Crawfordsville and MCED in an attempt to address retention of college graduates. The city will be centered around creating a Center for Leadership and Community Development which will be located in downtown area and will begin fusing economic development efforts with the entrepreneurial spirit of young minds.

The city is fiscally sound. Mayor Barton praised dedicated efforts of City Council and diligence of Clerk Treasurer Terri Gadd. The 2014 budget came in less than 1 percent higher than 2013 budget in spite of rising costs of virtually everything and is still able to give fulltime employees a modest 1 percent raise and add three additional police officers.

With the changes made regarding employee Health Care with five largest tax supported entities coming together to improve efficiency, it is probable that actual spending may be held flat or decrease. The City of Crawfordsville operates with a strong reserve balance which far exceeds that required by Indiana for cities our size and may far exceed that of any Indiana city our size.

Implementing possible efficiencies, fleet maintenance has been consolidated, storm water operations were merged with Street Department, and utility billing operations have been fully integrated. Work is performed in Crawfordsville rather than contracting to out of town companies. This has been done much cheaper in-house, proving that government can out-perform the private sector at times.

The next column will address communications, tourism, updates on street, police, fire, planning, and park departments and efforts to maintain and improve our quality of life.

The League of Women Voters, a non-partisan, multi-issue political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase public understanding of major policy issues and influences public policy through education and advocacy. All men and women are invited to join the LWV where hands-on work to safeguard democracy leads to civic improvement. For information about the League, visit the website or send message P.O.101 Crawfordsville, 47933 or