First off, it is no longer the Shipshewana Town Center.
Thursday evening, the Shipshewana Town Council approved a recommendation to change the name to the Shipshewana Event Center. “The name change is to more closely portray what happens at that building,” Shipshewana Town Manager Mike Sutter told the town board. “It is not a convention center. It is an event center.”
The new name is the first of several changes going on at the event center. The board was told Thursday that a new event coordinator was hired. Adison Glick, a recent Indiana University graduate, was hired to replace Ryan Ferris, who left this month for another position.
Sutter told the board that he was extremely impressed with Glick, who “nailed” the interview and even provided a suggested marketing plan for the building. “He has energy, creativity and the kind of enthusiasm needed for the job,” Sutter stated.
Roey Marcon will take on the responsibilities of facilities manager, and will oversee the building and staff.
Sutter noted that the facility did not have a good reputation before. “Because nothing was consistent. It was open. It wasn’t open,” he pointed out. “In all fairness, the staff was doing the best they could.” However, with a gap in the town manager position, there was a lack of direction for a while.
“We have to go forward,” Sutter insisted. Marketing for the facility had been absent, with the facility relying on repeat business instead of working on bringing new visitors in as well.
“It’s going to take a consistent and proactive approach to get back the confidence of the community and the area merchants,” Sutter acknowledged.
One change will be a redeveloped website. Plans are also in the works for a new sign, sporting the facility’s new name, as well as a video display and a “Merchant of the Week” section.
Sutter is looking to his staff at the center to be a big part of the turnaround, as well. “They are very enthusiastic people,” he said. Sutter said he plans to give them the freedom to do what they can come up with to make the center better. “They have a wide open horizon,” he added.
The Hostetler’s Hudson Museum is set to reopen April 2. Look for some of the Hudsons from the museum in the 2013 Mayfest Parade.
Sutter noted that J.R. Hostetler, who is with the museum, is working to recruit and schedule volunteers for the museum. One of the things volunteers will be doing is a “Tour of Rural Shipshewana.” The tour will include using a few of the antique vehicles to provide tours of the surrounding countryside, giving visitors an opportunity to see some of the natural beauty of the community.
“We’re looking to host as many events as we can,” Sutter continued. Already, they have a major commitment from the Blue Gate Theater through 2015 with more major acts coming to Shipshewana. The Riegseckers have also invested in the event center with upgraded sound and lighting equipment.
The center is teaming up with the LaGrange County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), serving as a stopover point for visitors to provide a welcome to Shipshewana as well as work to increase traffic to the facility.
Up next will be a request to the county for a Major Moves loan to help make the center more solvent. “This is a great economic asset to the community,” Sutter said.