May 29, 2016
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Family Ties

Brinker brothers revitalize Eagle Valley Golf Course
Dean and Dirk Brinker, president and vice president of Brinker’s Jewelers, took over ownership of Eagle Valley Golf Course.

“A labor of love, absolutely,” says Dean Brinker. “It’s a choice that you make, but to have a career in the golf business, you have to understand your limitations.”

Dean Brinker is the president of Brinker’s Jewelers, a well-known fine jewelry and luxury watch provider for three generations in Evansville.

Golf always has been more than an avocation; it has been intertwined in the fabric of the Brinker family for generations as well.

“There are four brothers; there are nine Brinker grand boys and one girl; they are the third generation from my father — everybody in my family plays golf,” says Dean. “We have great friends, memories, and moments with golf. The business I have today wouldn’t be the same without golf.”

Dean and Dirk, vice president of Brinker’s Jewelers, took over ownership of Eagle Valley, located at 10350 Petersburg Road, earlier this year. Their father, Roland Brinker, who founded the jewelry business, bought land in McCutchanville, Indiana, in 1994 and construction on the golf course started in 1996. The first round of golf was played there in September 1998. Sons Darren and Darrett helped Roland, who owned and managed the course for the last 18 years.

Two of the Brinker brothers Dirk and Darrett played NCAA Division I golf. Dirk played at Murray State University, Murray, Kentucky, and Darrett played at Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana. Dean’s son Kyle Brinker played at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana. Darrett competed in tour events from 1994 to 2000 and the 1996 U.S. Open.

“It’s been a family project that our father started. As time evolved, it was time to make more of a family transition,” says Dean.

The family project needed some work and care to bring it back to the standards the Brinkers always have had for the course.

The 18-hole layout features 6,692 yards from the longest tees at par 70. The course rating is 71.7 and the slope is rated 129. Robert M. Lohmann, a member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, designed Eagle Valley. Five sets of tees increase playability for all levels of golfers.

One of the primary goals for Dean with Eagle Valley now is to increase the number of overall golfers in the area.

“The whole golf industry has been down,” says Dean. “We hope to revitalize it by growing the game in the women and youth sectors. We’ve traveled the world playing golf. We have a lot of personal relationships with professional players, collegiate players and coaches, and elite instructors in the game of golf. With our network of people in the golf industry, we have got a good foundation supporting Eagle Valley.”

Eagle Valley has brought a few new people on board to enhance the golfers’ experience as well as make improvements on the course.

“We reached out and hired PGA professional Shawn Spears, former assistant at Evansville Country Club, as our head golf professional and Mandi Ashby, former University of Southern Indiana golfer, as assistant director of golf.”

Chris Halvorson has been hired as the new golf course superintendent at Eagle Valley. His former experiences include Apple Creek Country Club in Bismark, North Dakota; Wingsong Farm Golf Club in Maple Plain, Minnesota; and Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota, this year’s host to the 2016 Ryder Cup.

“We want to teach people how to play golf. That is why we have put such an emphasis on improving our practice facility. Eagle Valley’s practice facility is the only one in the area that features top of the line Titleist NXT Tour S range balls,” says Dean.

There are three junior golf camps planned at Eagle Valley. The camps are $295 and run through May, June, and July.

Teaching and showing adults and juniors how to improve their games while having fun is a major cornerstone of trying to grow the game, and the Brinkers are working toward making Eagle Valley a destination for all levels of golfers.

“The outing business is an important revenue stream for any golf course, and it is a great way to raise money for many local nonprofit organizations and the causes they represent,” says Dean. “If you are a beginning golfer, outings are a great way to get introduced to the game because it’s a scramble format where you have a team score versus having to count your own score. Every outing held at Eagle Valley Golf Course will feature golf professional instruction or tips before the start of each event.

“We know the course has been rough over the past couple of years,” says Dean. “Some of it was out of our control due to the effects of mother nature. We had several severe winters in a row that really affected the summer Bermuda turf in our fairways and on our tee boxes. Due to the decline in the local golf business, we did not have the capital or manpower to stay on top of the ever growing list of projects that a golf course has. It’s going to take some time, but we are committed to improving our product everyday.”

Since the fall of 2015, bridges and several tee boxes have been reconstructed. The clubhouse has been repainted and has a new roof. The bar, restaurant, and pro shop have all been updated. This is all a part of the process of bringing Eagle Valley Golf Course back to a strong life.

“All courses have ups and downs. We are not being subsidized by membership fees, like a private club, but by the daily rate customer. We are blue collar golf,” says Dean. “Just the other morning we had two gentlemen get off a third shift job at a local company and tee off at seven in the morning. They wanted to relax and have fun for a couple hours before going back to their daily routine.”

Dean and several of his family members live on the course. He walks the grounds daily to see where improvements can be made and has an active role in the overall vision of improving Eagle Valley. “I make notes everyday and talk with my staff to help prioritize our list,” says Dean.

The Brinkers are applying the principles that made the family successful in the jewelry business to their caretaking of Eagle Valley.

“You have to have infrastructure, communication, accountability, teamwork, and innovative thinking,” says Dean. “My son (Kyle) has helped me with each one of these principles. He and his team have upgraded our website and Facebook page.”

“We always wanted to own a public course, and who knows where it can go from there. We want to revitalize the game of golf in the Evansville area with teaching, friendship, and fun.”

Owning a golf course and keeping it thriving are major challenges throughout the country, but Dean and his family are trying to keep a good thing going strong with Eagle Valley.

“Evansville has a unique and rich history in the game of golf. I can’t tell you the number of kids who have received golf scholarships over the years and continue to play on the men’s and women’s professional golf tours,” says Dean.

Helping enhance the game of golf in the Evansville region has been in the DNA of the Brinker family.

“There are three reasons why I did this,” Dean says of his commitment to Eagle Valley. “I wanted to secure my parents, secure our family legacy, and show my love for the game of golf.”

For more information about Eagle Valley Golf Course, call 812-867-7888 or visit



A bald man and his buddy stand at the North Pool of the National September 11 Memorial.

I often lament to my wife and sons (actually complain) that while I am fortunate to genuinely love and appreciate the magazine publishing business and our tiny corner of it, I find there isn’t any time during the workweek to just … explore and perhaps enjoy a few unfettered minutes away from the vise grip of my phone. Even as a darn close to lifelong resident of Warrick and Vanderburgh counties, there are favorite and unexplored places that I can’t seem to get to anymore and just wander around a bit and be on no timetable, or feel the guilt that I am not doing something to help further my business efforts. This comes from the reality that everyone is doing more with less in the business world.

I don’t care how long you have called Evansville home or how adventurous you are, there is much to take in. A few things I have not done on my local list include canoeing Pigeon Creek or running the new University of Southern Indiana-Burdette Park Trail. We wrote about the Grotto in the basement of St. Boniface Catholic Church, but I didn’t have time to stop by. I have not visited Willard Library lately and I have heard the renovations and gardens are nice. Shelby Marshall’s antique store The Antique Market on Fourth Street is a treasure trove of everything, from old Evansville signs to a Rolls-Royce.
I am unable to get there, although these are but a few blocks away. I laughed when I recently read a letter to the editor in Evansville Living that an Evansville couple wanted to be tourists here in their own city for a week, I would imagine for similar reasoning.

I recently spent a week on spring break in New York City with my wife and sons. I was somewhat at a loss for words (yes, it even happens to me) when invariably someone would ask, “Well what did you do in the city?” To explain what we did on the trip is to describe exploring the city fairly aimlessly. Well it turns out, the French have a word for it called “flânerie.” I ran across the only French word I now know while perusing an old magazine (imagine that). While in the midst of looking for something else entirely, I ran across the word “flânerie” — which had it been on a menu I might have tried to order it for dessert. It actually is an older term (of course) to describe a favorite pastime of mine — and I guess old French dudes — of being an explorer but doing it at one’s leisure. Explore the streets, shops, and parks while enjoying the beauty and energy a city gives you.

In New York, it meant setting off with a very limited itinerary and exploring shop windows, parks, fish markets, architecture, and beautiful neighborhoods. We had an outstanding time “discovering” and walked close to eight miles a day doing so (of course, there’s an app for that). Now that I am home, I would like to try the art of flânerie here in Evansville. But if I am strolling down Franklin Street “window shopping” and someone stops me and says, “What are you up to?” If I say “practicing flânerie,” I might just wish I had said, “bar hopping” to avoid being “escorted back” to the East Side and the West Siders enjoying a good laugh at my expense.

As always, I look forward to hearing from you.

Todd A. Tucker


Sterling Square

Brewery kettle honors site’s history

The old Sterling Brewery site presently may be home to financial services company SS&C Technologies, but a piece of the building’s storied past remains.

On March 14, workers from Powers Welding and Cranes and Odyssey Construction moved a 7,000-pound copper kettle from the old brewery onto the corner of the property’s garage.

“There was a lot of talk about where to put it,” says Mike Morrow, a contractor on the project. “We decided on the garage because the kettle is so big and would be out of the way.” It can be seen from the Lloyd Expressway.

Before being moved to its new spot, the kettle was pulled out of one of the buildings in 2014 and sat on the ground on the corner of the property on Fulton Avenue. Evansville Business first wrote about the development when the site was under construction in “Racing Ahead” in the February/March 2015 issue.

“The reason we put it on the corner was because guys would come through here and cut it apart at night,” says Morrow. “This way, the kettle could be seen 24/7.”

The decision to keep the kettle was an easy one.

It was the last kettle that was used to brew beer in the Sterling building, and Morrow and property owner and developer Jack Rogers wanted to honor the history of the site.

In the future, Morrow and his team plan on putting “Sterling Square” on the side of the kettle.

For more information about Jack Rogers Realtor, Inc., call 812-422-5656, or visit


Work Hard, Play Hard

Crosspointe Insurance scores hole-in-one with new office
Crosspointe Insurance Advisors’ interior design reflects the personalities of its co-founders Josh Mushlock and Drew Shockley.

Before starting a business together, Drew Shockley and Josh Mushlock fostered their friendship over the game of golf.

When the golf lovers moved their health insurance company Crosspointe Insurance Advisors Downtown in The Walker Buidling, the site of the former Welborn Baptist Hospital, in the fall of 2013, they brought that theme with them. Not only did they install a putting hole in each of their offices, they built a putting green out back.

The two co-founded Crosspointe Insurance in 2008 and had what Mushlock calls a “vanilla” office space on the East Side. The move to the heart of the city was not only to help accommodate the company’s West Side and Henderson, Kentucky, customers, but also to play a role in revitalizing Downtown.

They decided to go with a modern interior aesthetic with metal ceilings and exposed air ducts, large glass-paneled walls, dramatic lighting fixtures, and bold pops of color throughout to break up the sleek white gathering spaces.

“Insurance is typically a classic industry,” says Shockley. “We are, and our company is, young, and the environment just kind of matches where we are right now.”

The design reflects two of the qualities the company prides itself on — innovative and technology-driven.

Several walls have been coated in chalkboard paint and the glass-paneled walls in offices double as dry-erase boards, allowing the office space to become a functional part of the team’s workflow. “It does have an industrial feel to it, but it also serves a purpose,” says Mushlock. “And that always marries together nice.”

Four large flat-screen TVs come together to form one screen in the primary gathering area.

Team members can step out back next to the putting green and play on the basketball court. For a more reserved stress reliever, a table tennis court overlooks the green space.

“We definitively have a work hard, play hard mentality, and that’s something we wanted to reflect in our space,” says Shockley.

The two believe that an office space has the ability to tell a client a story before an employee can open their mouth. “Clients get to see who you are before you even get to tell them,” says Mushlock.

A primary example comes from his office, where a wall is adorned with several different types of guitars. A music lover, Mushlock has a band and plays guitar at his church.

The purpose of the office space is to not only create and foster a team-focused aspect among its workers, but also to be an inviting place that clients get excited about visiting.

For more information about Crosspointe Insurance, call 812-401-7556 or visit


Identity Check

Hafer rebrands after evolution of architecture firm

When Hafer launched its rebranding of the company, a major piece to its new look included the website.

The architecture and design firm, previously known as Hafer Associates, was founded in 1978 in Evansville and has grown dramatically and expanded into new markets. Hafer’s service line offerings also have expanded to include architecture, interior design, mechanical and electrical engineering, and landscape architecture.

The evolution of the firm called for an examination of Hafer’s identity and “a complete overhaul,” says Jill Rawley, director of marketing. After a year and a half process, Hafer announced its rebranding in January and its new website in February.

Hafer’s new brand identity reflects its mission to create inspiring designs, reveals its creativity, and honors the company’s heritage. Rawley says the website has a modern, fresh look with large bright photography and video. Users can navigate more easily and information continuously is updated. The website is fully responsive on all mobile devices with tabs to connect on social media.

Don’t Miss:
Hafer’s website emphasizes the people behind the firm, featuring professional profile portraits that transform to fun, out-of-the-office pictures with the hover of a mouse. “We wanted to focus on our people,” says Rawley. “We feel like they are an important part of our company, because people hire people. We wanted potential clients and prospects to see the website and get the feel of who we are as people to show the personal side and the quality of our projects. We are fun to work with but also very talented.”

Site Designed and Maintained By: OOHology LLC, Louisville, Kentucky

Video and Photography: Black Pixel Studios, Evansville


Humble Beginning

eLuxurySupply disrupts online market by growing exponentially
Andrew Saunders, operations manager whose brother Paul Saunders is the owner, and Jeff Cox, vice president.

Serving as a U.S. Marine, Paul Saunders learned the value of a comfortable bed.

So after seven years of sleeping wherever he happened to land, he returned to his native Evansville and combined his affection for fine linens with a longtime love of e-commerce. The result was eLuxurySupply, a grassroots bath and bedding company launched from the garage of his home.

“I guess I just got tired of sleeping in the woods,” he teases.

Saunders says he wanted to provide online shoppers with quality bedding but at an affordable price. Tired of what he called “smoke and mirrors” e-commerce, he was looking for an honest product, he says, one that could “disrupt” the online market — in a good way, of course — and be successful and grow.

And grow, it has.

From its humble beginnings in 2009, eLuxurySupply has grown exponentially, 14,000 percent over the last three years. It generated $18.2 million in revenue in 2014 alone

Inc. 500 Magazine last year named eLuxurySupply the 15th fastest growing, privately owned business in the country.

That growth continued in 2015, Saunders says, and earlier this year he and his business partner, Jeff Cox, the company’s vice president of e-commerce, announced a major expansion. The company will be expanding its headquarters on Kotter Avenue by moving its Martin, Tennessee-based manufacturing operations — a company eLuxurySupply purchased in early 2015 — to Evansville, creating more than 100 new jobs over the next four years.

eLuxurySupply now manufactures and sells dozens of products, including cotton bed sheets duvet covers, pillow cases, mattress toppers, goose down comforters, bath robes, towel sets, and even soap, and a lot of hard work is only part of their tremendous success.

Growth in the e-commerce industry, the men say, comes with being willing to take risks and being flexible to an ever-changing market

They do not plan to limit their potential with a traditional five-year plan.

“One of the great things about e-commerce is that it disrupts nature,” says Cox. “It changes business models and creates opportunities. We’ve got several things on the drawing board right now, but this industry is so rapidly developing that there are new opportunities every day, ones you wouldn’t even dream of.”

In April, eLuxurySupply acquired a majority stake in Sleepmade, a Mississippi-based manufacturer and distributor of advanced sleep products. “The acquisition of Sleepmade, and their ‘bed in a box’ model allows us to expand our addressable market and to continue providing our customers with the high quality bedding products,” says Cox.

One aspect of their future they do know, however, is that it will stay right here in Evansville.

“This is our home,” says Cox. “This is where we have chosen to raise our families … we’re committed to this area, and we want to continue to bring jobs here.”

For more information about eLuxurySupply, call 800-977-7433 or visit


Basketball Crazy

Mike Blake accepts Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame award
In March, the Indiana Basketball Association honored Mike Blake with the Pacers Silver Medal award.

Basketball was a game changer in Mike Blake’s life. In high school, the Munster, Indiana, native played the sport, though he admits he saw more time on the bench than on the floor. When his career in news broadcasting began, it would be in the Evansville high school sports scene, including basketball, where he would make his name. Now his work covering local athletics has earned him a spot in the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame with the Indiana Pacers Silver Medal award.

Each year, the Hall of Fame committee selects an individual who has contributed significantly to Indiana basketball in some way other than being a player or a coach. The honor was established in 1962 and past winners include former Indiana University basketball coach Bob Knight, University of Evansville Hall of Famer Arad McCutchan, and former Evansville Courier and Press writer Dan Scism.

“I think for anyone who grows up in Indiana … basketball is, I don’t know if you’d call it a religion, but it’s more than just another game,” says Blake, who is a graduate of Loras College, Dubuque, Iowa, and the University of Iowa, Iowa City

Blake made his start at 14 WFIE-TV in 1970 as a nightly weatherman and in 1971 began his duties as sports director at the station. Over the 41 years he had covered sports — Blake’s 46-year-plus career still continues at WFIE — he has covered numerous sporting events in the Tri-State, including the tragedy of the UE men’s basketball team plane crash in December 1977. It has been a career that surprises even Blake.

“Ironically, shortly after my wife Jenny and I got married, I said, ‘Honey, we’re probably going to have to leave Evansville.’ Career-wise I wanted to get to Chicago or New York,” he says. “Fortunately that never happened because if it had, I would have never had the opportunity and privilege to cover so many wonderful athletes, coaches, school officials, athletic directors, referees, fans, and parents. All the people that make up this basketball-crazy state.”

Blake and his wife traveled to Indianapolis March 23 to accept his award in front of a sell-out crowd of 1,150. It was a truly wonderful, overwhelming, and humbling day, says Blake, but one he was honored to be a part of. In his three-minute acceptance speech — keeping to three minutes was the challenge Blake says with a laugh — he thanked his family and his co-workers at WFIE through the years.

“I had said, ‘They never made a movie about high school basketball in North Carolina or Kentucky. But they did about Indiana, because Indiana basketball is special.’ Hoosiers are special,” says Blake. “This truly is a once-in-a-lifetime honor and I’m so grateful to have been recognized for it.”

For more information about the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, call 765-529-1891 or visit

Issue CoverEvansvill Business April / May 2016 Issue Cover

On the Move

Regional Cities Initiative places the Southwest Region in the spotlight for developments
A provided map details each of the 19 projects that will shape the Southwest Region in the next five years.

In 2014, the Indiana Economic Development Corp. commissioned a study of 11 peer cities across the nation that experienced strong population and economic growth. Through examining the communities, the study considered the questions of why those areas were successful and why others lacked.

The Regional Cities Initiative, first proposed by Gov. Mike Pence in early 2015, promises to pay $42 million to three regions in Indiana that will help build a quality place to live, add to the economic foundation, and attract and retain future generations of Hoosiers. The initiative is funded through Indiana’s Tax Amnesty Program, which raised more than originally targeted. Plans also are funded through public and private investments.

Seven regions across the state submitted applications by July 31, 2015, and presented their proposals to the Strategic Review Committee in October. In December, the committee elected to select three recipients, rather than the expected two, including the North Central Region (St. Joseph, Elkhart, and Marshall, Indiana), the Northeast Region (Greater Fort Wayne, Indiana), and the Southwest Region (Evansville Metropolitan Area).

“The fact that they chose us and we won, there is a psychological aspect to this,” says Greg Wathen, president and CEO at Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana, who guided the Southwest Region in the Regional Cities Initiative. “It is recognition that the region provides value to the state and our strategy is one that can be implemented and it will transform our region. It happened in the original 1958 Fantus Report as you looked at our region and how it was struggling, and again in 2011 we commissioned the Garner Economics Study out of Atlanta that said: you have tremendous assets but the real barrier to development is us. People are recognizing the fact that what we put forward can help transform the state of Indiana. The psychological recognition that we did this is just as important as anything else.”

On April 5, Gov. Pence ceremonially signed the House Enrolled Act 1001 to grant $42 million for each regional city at the Signature School’s Robert L. Koch II Science Center. HEA 1001 will go into effect July 1 and was signed into law on March 23.

“Through the Indiana Regional Cities Initiative, we have seen regions across the state working in partnership to inspire and generate the development of long-term and dynamic plans for the future,” said Gov. Pence at the ceremony. “Indiana’s Great Southwest plan will be key in attracting and retaining a skilled workforce and cultivating a strong business climate for long-term economic development and improving quality of life for the benefit of Hoosiers.”

The Proposal

The Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana worked with lead consultant Lochmueller Group, Garner Economics of Atlanta, and VPS Architecture to tell the compelling story outlined in the proposal.

“One of the things I think was really compelling about our proposal is we had so much concentrated in an area that they could see it transform as they were driving around,” says Wathen. “The great thing about our Downtown being the core is that it is a very concentrated area and it is easier to transform an area when it is smaller than when it is so vast.”

The “Great Life, Great Community, Great Environment, Great People” plan, Southwest Indiana’s proposal, was the largest and pledged to invest more than $926 million in public and private funding with a goal of increasing the region’s population by 70,000 people. The plan is separated into two categories that will see transformations — the City Center and Gateway Projects.

City Center Projects

New Urban Living Research Center — Haier America, the world’s largest manufacturer of household appliances, and Vectren, an energy holding company headquartered in Evansville, plan to pursue a Downtown housing development that will serve as a new urban living research center where people can live in the experiment.

Multi-Institutional Academic Health Science Education and Research Facility — The largest investment of the Southwest Region at $9 million, this city center project looks to fund lab space that will be within the campus promoting research.

Downtown Housing & Fitness Campus — The Downtown YMCA, home to 10,000 members, will be seeing changes. The campus could possibly expand with the construction of a new and modern fitness facility on an existing parking lot owned by the YMCA. A sky bridge would be built from the old gymnasium, converted into housing, to the new. The YMCA also has the possibility of tearing down the old structure and building an entirely new facility. Regional Cities funding has given this project $5 million.

Downtown Housing & Development — The Market Development project plans to incorporate residential living with commercial
and retail opportunities. Presented by Brandon Scott, director of brand strategy and digital at Ten Adams, and Mark Thompson, director of operations at Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp., in an initial focus group meeting, the mixed-use development will be a gathering spot for the entire region, says Wathen. Regional Cities will set aside $5 million in funding for this project.

Signature School Science Center — Signature School, located in Downtown Evansville, is the No. 1 school in Indiana and the No. 1 school in the Midwest. “Signature School has a challenge with space and we will help them expand to up to 90 students,” says Wathen. “You have people as far away as Terre Haute who send their kids there and people who say they will relocate to the area if they have a shot at sending their child there. We have more of a demand to get in there than we have space.” The Southwest Region will add classrooms, labs, and common areas in a science center with an investment of $2.5 million. “This is an historic step for Signature School,” says Signature School Executive Director Jean Hitchcock. “It will enable us to advance our already excellent program, offering spots to more students while maintaining our sense of community.”

Regional Connector Trails — Trail connectivity is an essential community resource to attract young professionals and families. Regional Cities funding in the amount of $3,170,000 will be used to implement the Regional Connector Trails projects.

Gateway Projects

Oakland City University Downtown “U” — Because Oakland City University’s residency halls require updating or replacing, the Southwest Region will invest $3 million in Regional Cities funding to help rebuild downtown by putting student housing combined with retail right on the main street of downtown Oakland City.

Warrick County Wellness Trail  — Located near the Interstate 69 and Lloyd Expressway cloverleaf intersection is the Epworth Road and U.S. Highway 66 Medical District. This location is well suited to become a regional healthcare hub and using $1.5 million in Regional Cities funding, the Southwest Region plans to help complete the remaining infrastructure improvements.

Evansville Regional Airport Terminal Renovation — The Southwest Region plans to invest $5 million to remodel “the front door to our region,” says Wathen. The terminal structure opened in 1988 — prior to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 — and has an outdated security layout. The inside of the terminal will be gutted and remodeled with amenities available for the 21st Century traveler. “Evansville Regional Airport is an important driver of economic activity in our entire region, so making investments that lay the groundwork for additional affordable choices for flyers and better facilities for passengers is incredibly important,” says Doug Joest, Evansville Regional Airport Director. “Before companies decide to locate in our region, they often look at how accessible it is — every dollar that we invest in Evansville Regional Airport is a dollar that we invest in our region’s job creation.”

New Harmony Arts & Food Project — The Southwest Region, using $500,000 in Regional Cities funding, will convert the former New Harmony High School into the Working Men’s Institute, a local not-for-profit educational institution with farm-to-table programs, renovate the Odd Fellows Hall to serve as a storefront and children’s museum, create a covered, extended-season outdoor market, and repurpose the New Harmony Way Bridge into a bike and pedestrian trail and park.

Victoria National Conference Center — The Regional Cities Initiative looks for ways regions can enhance their national and international brands. In the Southwest Region, Victoria National Golf Club aspires to develop a golf course and associated facilities that will result in being selected as a venue for PGA and USGA major golf events on a regular basis. The Southwest Region will invest $2 million through Regional Cities to build a new conference center that will be open to the public and utilized during tournaments.

Broadband Demonstration Project — In order to attract new residents to an area, it is essential that the area have an affordable, high-speed broadband service. Regional Cities funding will set aside $1 million for this project.

What’s Next?

The community will begin seeing changes around Evansville as early as the end of 2016, says Wathen.

“We are considering 2016 a planning year, but a couple projects will break ground this year. You’ll see most of the projects start next year,” he says.

Wathen says he plans to hold a celebration after each new groundbreaking, and assures that if a proposed project does not come to fruition, there are several supportive plans such as Mesker Park Zoo, Haynie’s Corner Arts District, and more able to receive Regional Cities funds.

“Lots of communities do plans. In many cases, like it or not, a lot of really great ideas in plans sit on someone’s shelf. This will not and we will do it in less than five years,” says Wathen.

 For more information about the Regional Cities Initiative, call 812-423-2020 or visit


Natalie Hedde

Hometown: Campbelltown, Indiana

Job: Director of Corporate Communications, Vectren

Resume: Senior Biological Products Specialist,Sanofi Pasteur, 2004-2010

Family: Husband Chuck, son Clark, 3, and daughter Haven, 2

Working in the field of communications wasn’t something Natalie Hedde had planned while attending the University of Evansville. Her original idea had been to pursue education, but a talk with her academic advisor changed that.

“During a conversation with her, I shared my plans and she sort of laughed and said, ‘How about communications?’” says Hedde. “It’s as if she knew something I didn’t. I look back now and realize how influential that conversation was.”

For the last six years, Hedde has found a home at Vectren, and most recently as the director of corporate communications. It’s a company and job she truly finds rewarding.

“When you work for Vectren, you work on a team. You work for an organization that will work as hard for you as you choose to work for the company,” she says.

What do you enjoy the most about working in the energy industry?
What I enjoy most, including that of the areas we serve, is that energy is evolving. We challenge ourselves with anticipating what our customers are going to demand of us in an evolving energy market. As we learn from our customers, we too will continue to evolve and do our best to communicate to our customers the value and quality of the service they receive for the price they pay.

What is the most challenging aspect about your job?
The unforeseen. I think that pretty much sums it up.

What other organizations are you involved with in the Tri-State?
I recently finished serving six years on the board of Gilda’s Club Evansville. It is a tremendous organization doing a multitude of good things for our community. I also have given time to March of Dimes the past several years and am excited to see their Signature Chefs Auction event become even better. I remain active within the UE Schroeder School of Business. I really enjoy collaborating with my old professors to bring work to the classroom in a way that hopefully better prepares current students for the challenges of a career.

What is something you enjoy doing off the clock?
My husband and I, having both played athletics at UE (Natalie played softball and Chuck played basketball), really enjoy Aces games of just about any sport. We have a lot of fun being able to take the kids, who currently think any team dressed in purple is the Evansville Aces. We’re working on that. They love to be ‘announced’ out of the locker room and come running down the hallway at home like it’s the tunnel leading to the game floor. They each are co-captains on Team Hedde.

When I take the time, I also enjoy cooking. I’m not certain that it’s the food that I enjoy as much as what sitting around a table and sharing a meal with people you care about means to me. I grew up in a home where we ate dinner together; my husband did as well. We still get together with our parents very regularly and dine together. The sound of laughter that erupts during these times is a sound I will cherish and remember the rest of my life.

How do you balance your home-life with your career?
For all women, moms who pursue a career and to those who work full time for their families at home, cheers to all in their effort to strike a balance. It isn’t easy but there is a great deal to learn from one another and for that, I’m grateful.

Do you have any advice for someone who wants to jump into communications?
Be nimble and practice patience. There are so many facets to communications, a person can work broadly or find a niche within this area of practice. It is a great platform from which to grow.

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