Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch tours Propeller

Mike Wolanin | The Republic Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce President Cindy Frey, left, and Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop, right, greet Indiana Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch before she tours Columbus Propeller in Columbus, Ind., Wednesday, March 8, 2023.

COLUMBUS, Ind. — State officials learned more about a local innovation center that is receiving $50,000 in matching grant funds from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority.

Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch and IHCDA Executive Director Jacob Sipe toured Columbus Propeller on Wednesday. The local makerspace recently completed a successful crowdfunding campaign for an external makeover by using the IHCDA’s “CreatINg Places” matching grant program and Patronicity.

Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop, Propeller board members and other community leaders were among the group that welcomed the lieutenant governor to the makerspace and told her the history of its development.

“You all are propelling Columbus and the state of Indiana,” Crouch told them. “So thank you. I’m anxious to learn more.”

More than 100 donors contributed more than $72,000 for Propeller’s crowdfunding effort, and since the campaign hit its $50,000 goal before a Jan. 16 deadline, the IHCDA is providing another $50,000. Altogether, the campaign raised $122,819, said Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce President Cindy Frey.

“We look forward to making this a destination for making, creating and innovating,” she said.

Plans for exterior improvements at Propeller include a street mural, painted building façades, wayfinding, a viewing platform for watching planes, greenery, signage, seating, a grill area and lighting, said Lulu Loquidis with Landscape, Art & Architecture (LAA) Office.

“Propeller has engaged the services of LAA Office to manage aspects of the exterior renovation,” Propeller leaders shared in a recent newsletter. “The work begins immediately. You’ll have an opportunity to participate in build days as we engage volunteers in the work. Several projects will take place on the Day of Caring May 5.”

Loquidis said they plan to implement the project primarily during this spring and summer. Next steps include releasing a Request for Qualifications to find two artists who can propose façade designs.

A ground mural is also in the works. “Early May, we’re hoping to collaborate with the United Way Day of Caring and work with those volunteers to implement that piece, and then installation of a viewing platform and the plants will happen later in the summer,” she said.

For the complete story and more photos, see Friday’s Republic.