After years of hearing from the public and business community alike about increasingly negative perceptions of Hopkinsville, the local Chamber of Commerce, Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, and Economic Development Council initiated efforts to re-envision the Hopkinsville brand to spur growth for the city.
The group selected a vision plan steering committee, raised $70,000 in funding through community donations, and hired a consulting firm to guide and facilitate the process. The steering committee worked to promote the plan process widely and broadly throughout the community via focus group meetings, one-on-one interviews and paper and online surveys; feedback was used to establish four primary goals. A speaker’s bureau of vision plan advocates was also developed to continue two-way communication, build support, and make adjustments based on ongoing citizen feedback. Interested community members were invited to join task groups developed around each of the four goals to set benchmarks for advancement and work toward measurable progress in each area.
The engagement in this visioning process laid the groundwork for many improvements, detailed in Hopkinsville’s featured projects.
Hopkinsville is Focused on WINS
For nearly 15 years, Hopkinsville has become increasingly intentional and strategic in efforts to promote inclusive, cross sector collaboration with the singular focus of elevating opportunity for all residents.
The Hoptown-Christian County WINS Initiative is $21 million plan focusing on the importance of Wellness, Infrastructure, and Neighborhood projects critical to the future Success of Hopkinsville.
The initiative has brought many new projects to the community, including commercial and residential updates to enhance the community and improve quality of life. After eight months of citizen engagement and debate, the revenue stream and projects were approved with extremely favorable results. Implementation is still underway with projects including:
In addition to improving the quality of life of residents, the projects serve to enhance the tourism sector – the fourth largest economic generator in the area.
Eclipseville: Home to the 2017 Great American Solar Eclipse
In 2004, local officials learned that Christian County had been designated by NASA and scientists worldwide as the scientific epicenter of the upcoming Great American Solar Eclipse in 2017. At 2 minutes and 40.1 seconds of totality, this eclipse would make Hopkinsville home to the longest duration of this natural phenomenon.
Because of this news, the city had to prepare years in advance for the influx of eclipse-goers. However, Hopkinsville wanted to prepare not only for tourists who would descend on the town for this one-time event, but also benefit residents through several beautification and infrastructure priorities, such as a new welcome center.
Two years before the big date, the city began to prepare. They developed a marketing plan, recruited hundreds of volunteers and designated spaces for viewing as well as for a festival to celebrate the occasion. Additionally, a dry run inaugural festival was held in August 2016. All the preparation required coordinated logistical plans with city, county, and state officials, private groups and businesses, and residents throughout the region.
On August 21, 2017, all the effort and planning paid off. Hopkinsville and Christian County residents and over 116,000 visitors from 47 states, 25 different countries, and 3 U.S. territories witnessed the Great American Solar Eclipse from Hopkinsville. All told, eclipse weekend generated an estimated $28.5 million in economic impact.
Now that the eclipse has passed, Hopkinsville is proud to remain positively committed to progress and well positioned to persist in making it happen.
Grace and Mercy
Grace and Mercy, a residential program serving women coming from incarceration or homelessness, was born from years of volunteers participating in a jail prayer group and wanting to do more to reduce jail recidivism and facilitate mainstream reentry into community life. The nondenominational faith-based program combines best practices for addiction elimination with learning about and developing a relationship with the Lord to help ones remain clean and productive in a new life.
The facility is equipped with bedrooms, including an ADA accessible room, in dormitory style with a large kitchen, pantry, dining rooms, and multiple gathering spaces including a private outdoor area. Transportation is provided as is assistance with applications for public assistance such as food stamps, so residents will have support for their basic needs even when they relocate.
When physically and emotionally prepared, the ladies are assisted in finding productive employment and transitioned into independent living along with family reunification support.
The group’s activities are funded through two revenue streams, the largest being donations from individuals, foundations, and churches. The second source is earned income from two thrift shops and the production of Gracefully Sweet Fudge made by residents.
The organization also relies heavily on volunteers and collaborations with nonprofit agencies. Pennyroyal Center provides residents with services in behavioral health and substance use, as well as case management, employment coaching and assistance and connection to local resources.
All told, Grace and Mercy has touched the lives of 102 women and graduated 40 individuals from families representing 174 children.