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Friday, May 6, 2016

Call it Eli's or 'Big Mo,' this may be the start of something big

Friday, September 28, 2012

Greeting the gathered crowd with "good morning, welcome to a great day," DePauw President Brian Casey speaks of how the university's downtown bookstore came to fruition. Also speaking at the Thursday afternoon grand opening of Eli's Books were (from left) Lt. Governor Becky Skillman's Chief of Staff David Terrell, Mayor Sue Murray and Eli Lilly Vice President of Oncology Newt Crenshaw.
Capitalizing on Hoosier heritage and a longstanding connection with Greencastle, the new DePauw University bookstore downtown has been dubbed Eli's Books.

That's Eli as in Eli Lilly, onetime Greencastle resident and Indiana Asbury (now DePauw) student, whose initial venture into the pharmaceutical world that would become his oyster was a drugstore at the southwest corner of Indiana and Washington streets (that's where the Downtown Deli now dishes up some of the best grub in town, by the way).

And Eli's Books is a perfectly fine name. It's interesting. It's fitting. It transcends the partnership of town and gown that created the project that carries its name.

But "Big Mo" just might be more appropriate.

Because "Big Mo" -- as those who speak sportsuguese tend to call it -- is a pet name for momentum, the much-cherished quality with the power to increase or develop at an ever-growing rate.

Momentum in this community has been building since the announcement more than two weeks ago that Ascena Retail Group will be bringing nearly 250 new jobs to FB Distro by 2018. And buoyed again earlier this week with the grand opening of Phoenix Closures in an old Oxford Automotive plant that most thought would never be repurposed.

And then came Thursday's success story downtown.

You go, "Big Mo."

Yes, momentum is tough to come by, but when you have it, look out, world.

The Greencastle community perhaps last felt momentum like this in the days that followed the IBM Corp. departure in 1987. We built that into six new industries, hundreds of new jobs and an All-America City Award in 1991.

That first sign of momentum back then emerged when one of the companies that eventually came to call Greencastle home told community leaders, "We don't know where we're going yet, but we're coming to Greencastle!"

That seemed to be the vibe again Thursday afternoon. The bookstore/coffee shop ribbon-cutting celebration was creating shared optimism, steeped in Starbucks caffeine and basking in the glow of a Greencastle-DePauw partnership that may never be brighter than it is right now.

It's a given that Greencastle will continue to get exposure from this partnership, the first completed vision from the $19 million Stellar Community Initiative awarded to the city in March 2011.

As one of two original recipients of the inaugural Stellar Grants, Greencastle is considered the project frontrunner with several segments under way and other projects -- like the 151-space downtown parking garage at Indiana and Walnut streets -- on the drawing board.

And you can easily imagine the Eli's/Starbucks enterprise becoming a showplace for Indiana Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman to point to the success of the Stellar Communities Initiative that was started on her watch.

Is Becky Skillman excited about how the Greencastle project is going? She could not be here Thursday because of the death of a close friend but reportedly can't wait to come over on her own next week to see the progress for herself.

Her chief of staff, David Terrell who was here Thursday in Skillman's stead, said about as much, noting the Greencastle site will "become a legacy because of the successes we see."

"We're not grant givers," Terrell stressed, "we're investors, and we're already seeing phenomenal returns on our investment."

Already Greencastle is being contacted by developers and investors who may not have looked at us before, but are taking time to look at us now. And anything that investors will be doing here in the future will be without benefit of the Stellar Grant seed money to aid them.

"That's the secret to the success of Stellar," Terrell reasoned.

It's all about partnerships, Mayor Sue Murray will tell you.

And she knows mayors in dozen of cities across 91 other counties in Indiana would trade places with her in a heartbeat.

"This is the second time in one week," she beamed Thursday, "that I can say there's not one mayor in Indiana who wouldn't trade places with me today."

Yep, that's "Big Mo" all right.

Let's keep him working for us.