The NWIndianaLife.com team and Ideas in Motion Media founder Chris Malhmann headed to South Bend to sit down with South Bend Mayor Peter Buttigieg and talk about the state of the city, what's on the horizon for 2015 and what good news he knows we'll find as we expand into South Bend and St. Joseph
Buttigieg is excited about the future. With a slew of recent projects and upgrades to the city, South Bend is about to undergo a renaissance of business, culture and industry.
This begins with the 150 anniversary of the city, with a yearlong celebration consisting of community, art and recreational activity. The actual anniversary weekend, which also takes place on Memorial Day weekend will be celebrated with outdoor concerts and events.
“This is a city that has had a lot of ups and downs, it's evolved in a very rich and complex way,” says Buttigieg. “I truly believe that this decade will be remembered as the one where South Bend really turned forward and turned its trajectory in a new direction.”
After Studebaker left South Bend in 1963, many worried whether the city would be able to survive without the major auto maker’s influence on the city. Buttigieg, however, is excited for the new and future developments making their way to South Bend, many of which stay true to South Bend’s economic roots.
“What’s happening now that’s so exciting is a lot of advanced manufacturing and innovation including a lot of areas that didn’t even exist when I was younger like data centers and data analytics,” says Buttigieg. “
Buttigieg feels that this renewed vigor in the city has influenced its residents in positive ways and claims that everyone from younger people to retirees can be seen enjoying the renewed life and energy South Bend has delivered.
“We have traditional job growth with companies like Fed Ex and manufacturing companies like Nello,” says Buttigieg. “For exports, we’re exporting cars from AM General and Mercedes to China and Germany, not the other way around. It shows that we can win in a global economy.”
With the renewed interest in South Bend’s economy, strong emphasis has also been placed on revitalizing the downtown and living areas with renewed effort to make the area a great place to shop and live. This includes more public arts, investments in parks and the reconfiguration of streets to make them more accommodating to drivers, as well as pedestrians and cyclists.
Non-profits were also an important factor in the growth of the city and its connection to its many communities.
“We have many facilities and places too numerous to count when it comes to recreation and education,” says Buttigieg. “They all do something to make our community better. They’re doing things that we would have to do otherwise and honestly not as effectively due to fewer resources.”
South Bend’s Four Winds Field has also been a point of pride for the city, particularly now as the new home of the South Bend Cubs has brought on a surge of interest from sports fans and the community of South Bend.
“So many people have that connection to the Cubs and Chicago baseball that this is just a great milestone and really goes with our goal of the revitalization of the downtown area,” says Buttigieg.
For the future of South Bend, big changes are underway and the forward momentum of a city ever-growing and ever-evolving is something that is not only deserved, but essential for the residents of South Bend.
For Buttigieg, it is not only his wish as a mayor to see his city succeed, but a personal wish as well, driven by his strong connection to the community and the people in it.
Buttigieg, a former reservist stationed in Afghanistan credits his duty abroad as strengthening his ties to the South Bend community.
“I actually met a friend from high school who was serving as an Air Force officer, and throughout the experience, along with all of the Facebook messages and care packages I received from home, it reminded me that you’re never alone and your community comes with you,” says Buttigieg.
Despite his young age, Buttigieg hopes to use his desire to make South Bend a great place to work and live, and his fresh perspectives to accomplish his goal.
“The community doesn’t pick a rookie unless they want to send a certain message about being future oriented and thinking about where our city is heading in terms of embracing innovation, questioning habit and looking for creativity,” says Buttigieg.
Buttigieg also credits the embracing of social media as an effective way for him to connect with the community and give those community members a voice that may otherwise go unnoticed.
“If we use social media as a way not to blast out propaganda, but to gather information to make better decisions and to better convey why we make those choices it makes everyone’s relationships stronger and the government closer to the people. The government belongs to the people and this makes everyone better off. “
*Be sure to stay tuned for future video content featuring interviews with Chris and Mayor Buttigieg