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 LAFAYETTE/WEST LAFAYETTE: From Good to Great 

 Cities of Lafayette and West Lafayette (Pop. 96,736)   
 June 2014

Similar to many other Indiana cities and towns, the cities of Lafayette and West Lafayette have developed a number of strategic plans aimed at improving quality of life over the years but have had difficulty in overcoming the challenges of sustained implementation.    

This time, the cities have banded together, along with Tippecanoe County and Purdue University, to create the Quality of Life Council to organize a sustainable structure for consistent, continuous implementation of Lafayette/West Lafayette’s quality of life plan, “Good to Great: Making Greater Lafayette a Community of Choice.”  The goals of the plan include efforts in openness and diversity, downtown vitality, wellness and sustainability, arts integration, economic development, transportation and university & city relations.    

The council reports to the Greater Lafayette Commerce Board of Directors.  Its seven council teams – one for each of the plan goals – are empowered to establish themselves as knowledge leaders and move forward with implementation.  An eighth team is dedicated to provide leadership and resources for plan implementation and evaluation.    

The Quality of Life Council has been careful not to duplicate existing efforts; rather, its members are working to unite existing organizations and achieve common goals.  Community members have also been a key component of the planning and implementation process, providing feedback in surveys, focus groups and other forums.    

While plan implementation will take years to complete, a number of initiatives have burst through the gates and brought early success.  

  • MatchBox Coworking Studio in downtown Lafayette. Through a partnership between Greater Lafayette Commerce, Purdue University, the City of Lafayette and Lafayettech (a local start-up community), a 10,000 square foot space is now available for local entrepreneurs, creatives, hackers, makers and designers to develop ideas and partnerships.  
  • Bicycle Lafayette.  This cycling advocacy and education organization aims to promote cycling as a safe, viable, and healthy form of transportation and recreation within Lafayette and West Lafayette. Currently, Bicycle Lafayette is working through the Lafayette City Council to establish a safety distance between bicyclists and motorists.  Similar measures have passed in West Lafayette Bicycle Lafayette’s help. 
  • “Inlaws & Outlaws” movie event.  The Quality of Life Council sponsored a viewing of the film “Inlaws & Outlaws,” followed by comments by the filmmaker Drew Emery and conversation circles on diversity topics. PRIDE Lafayette, the event organizer, plans to host additional events that address GLBTQ diversity topics. 
  • Campaign to Save the Amtrak Hoosier State Line. The Quality of Life Council worked with State Representative Randy Truitt and State Senator Brandt Hershman to champion the continuation of the Amtrack route between Indianapolis and Chicago, with a stop in Lafayette.  As the second busiest rail station in the state, efforts are being made to further grow demand to maintain this important link to Chicago. 
  • Boiler Bridge Bash. This event brings together businesses, nonprofit organizations, media groups and public art teams on the John T. Meyers Pedestrian Bridge to introduce Purdue students to community life on both sides of the Wabash River.  The 2013 inaugural event was so successful that the event has been adopted as the culminating event of Boiler Gold Rush, Purdue University’s freshman orientation program.

For more information about Lafayette/West Lafayette’s placemaking efforts, visit http://www.greaterlafayettecommerce.com/quality-life or contact Erin Nelson, Director of Greater Lafayette’s Chamber & Quality of Life Councils. Additional best practice resources can be found on Ball State’s Primacy of Place website


10 in 10 weeks Lafayettes map
This post was a part of Ball State’s 2014 “Ten Communities in Ten Weeks” series highlighting ten Indiana cities and towns that are committed to promoting quality of life for their residents, businesses and visitors.

Through its Primacy of Place initiative, Ball State University is committed to helping Indiana communities that desire to strengthen their local economies by putting human interests at the center of economic development.

Follow us on Twitter @BallStateBBC, share your own placemaking projects at placemaking@bsu.edu, and sign up for our bi-monthly Primacy of Place Updates.