THE STELLAR PROCESS
The ISCP process occurs in two phases. Phase One entails the application and designation process and Phase Two is comprised of the post-award stages of planning, implementation, and continuum of support for program participants.
THE APPLICATION AND DESIGNATION (PHASE ONE)
THE APPLICATION AND DESIGNATION (PHASE ONE)
Applicants submit letters of interest addressing the four programmatic goals outlined in the Stellar Communities program approach: fostering regional investments; improving quality of life through comprehensive and transformative investments; encouraging sustainability and capacity building; and highlighting effective and strong civic leadership and community support.
Once the applicants’ letters of interest are submitted and evaluated, the state agencies select semi-finalists who are awarded up to $10,000 each to help develop or update proposals that include a Strategic Investment Plan (SIP). The SIP, which is produced by the local unit of government, identifies capital projects to be funded during the three-year ISCP period. The plan should:
1. Clearly identify the community needs, goals, and financial capabilities;
2. Create awareness for effective local planning;
3. Enhance cooperation and communication throughout the community and region; and
4. Serve to increase local government stability.
The purpose of the Strategic Investment Plan is to meet ISCP comprehensive community revitalization strategy. The state’s comprehensive community development strategy is defined as “a holistic approach to community and economic development.”
After SIP proposals are complete and submitted, representatives from the three state agencies conduct site visits of each semi-finalist community. This piece is critical to the program. It entails a three-hour visit, in which the community presents its projects outlined in its SIP. State representatives also have an opportunity to tour each proposed project site and to meet community partners and stakeholders. This allows state representatives to gain a better understanding of the applicant’s goals and objectives.
The evaluation of the Stellar Community proposals includes a review of several criteria to select the two Stellar Community recipients. All proposals are scored by an inter-agency selection team primarily comprising staff from OCRA, IHCDA, and INDOT. Once scored, recommendations are finalized by the executive leadership at the participating agencies and submitted to the Lieutenant Governor’s office for final approval.
Once the two finalists are selected, the Lieutenant Governor’s Office makes award announcements, which are typically followed in the community by celebrations to publicize the success. During this period, the state agencies follow up with communities not selected to advise them of the decision and to engage in dialogue about how some of their projects may receive funding and implementation in the near future.
PLANNING AND IMPLEMENTATION (PHASE TWO)
Once a community is awarded the Stellar designation, it enters into the next phase of the process. This phase consists of three stages from initial planning toward implementation in a three-year timeframe (see Conceptual Model of ISCP Phase Two and Map below).
Conceptual Model of ISCP Phase Two
Stage 1. Initial Planning. The first year of the program consists of project planning, property acquisition, procurement, grant and contract approvals by all three state agencies, as well as starting project design. To date, Delphi, Greencastle, North Vernon, and Princeton have completed this stage. The cities of Crawfordsvile and North Liberty began this stage of the process in 2015.
Stage 2. Transitional: Planning to Implementation. The second year of ISCP entails executing design and environmental assessments. This involves communities shifting from planning into implementation of projects in the target areas. Huntingburg and Wabash are currently in this stage of the process, while Bedford and Richmond have moved towards the implementation stage.
Stage 3. Implementation and Continuum of Support. The third year and final stage of the program consists of full implementation and construction of improvement projects in target areas. Currently, Delphi, Greencastle, North Vernon, Princeton, Richmond, and Bedford are in this stage of the process.
Map 1. Indiana Stellar Communities Program: Planning and Implementation Phases